The Cloud is with us and it is real! We have all heard something about it; accepted it; rejected it; or are still thinking about it. In some respects it is the old “outsourcing” debate all over again. Outsourcing is “good” because it focuses the company on its core competencies. Outsourcing is “bad” because the company loses control over vital operations. Accepting and utilizing the Cloud is just another of the revolutionary changes (PC, smart phone, etc.) that we have encountered over the last few years.
In one sentence: Cloud computing eliminates: (1) staffing; (2) maintenance; (3) obsolescence of hardware, software; and (4) capital investment.
That's a lot of benefits to ignore. Let's elaborate:
- You do not need a technical staff because someone else is acting on your behalf - they are your staff.
- Clouds offer tiers of service: you can start small and upgrade as required.
- With software in-house, it's often all or nothing. And in-house software usually requires a larger up front investment.
- Legacy applications are designed to automate information and process flows that were built to operate within the four walls of the enterprise. But these internally focused tools lack the ability to support commerce where it really occurs – between companies.
- As far as losing control over vital operations; the answer is simple: a well-written “service level agreement”.
In the opinion of Ajay Sanghi of EDISPHERE, a "Cloud" is closely associated with the "virtualized" platform (operating system). Unlike other hosted models, 'cloud' offers "redundancy" (property of the virtual platform), which along with "software-appliances" (which are traditionally hardware), helps in shaping the architecture of the cloud we need.
Shandra Locken of Aurora EDI Alliance reports that Cloud based services are growing by leaps and bounds! According to IDC (International Data Corporation), cloud computing sales brought in a revenue of more than $21.5 billion in 2010. That number will grow to $72.9 billion by 2015. As more and more companies see the benefits of SaaS (Software As A Service), my guess is that EDI providers will up the ante in terms of their cloud offerings. And in this competitive climate, what sort of bells and whistles will we see being offered? I can't wait to find out...