Four Public Cloud Computing Scenarios: Planning For The Cloud

Scenario planning is used by business strategists to prepare their companies for different futures. Why is this necessary? Simply because predicting the future is not an exact science. If the future cannot be known it is only prudent to be prepared for several permutations of possible futures. A popular way of scenario planning is sketching four possible futures that are governed by two important influencing elements. Each elements has 2 opposite outcomes. The combination of the opposite outcomes of each element create four permutations of the future.

The two most important influencing elements governing the future uptake of public cloud computing are the availability of public cloud infrastructure and the trust put into security and compliance. If public cloud computing will be widespread, infrastructure will need to be available and accessible around the globe. If such a widespread infrastructure is going to be used, enterprises will need to be sure that their data will be secure and compliant. The figure below lays it all out in four resulting scenarios.

The happy cloud scenario is the scenario that most cloud providers are banking on. In this scenario there is a widely available public cloud infrastructure and it turns out that public cloud is actually more secure and compliant than legacy IT implementations. Business customers will happily get their IT from the cloud and there will be few tasks left for the IT department.

The patchy cloud scenario is a scenario in which there is a widely available public cloud infrastructure but there are real issues around security and compliance. In this scenario, only applications that are non critical and have no compliancy requirements will be put into the public cloud. The IT department will build private clouds and will dictate cloud access.

The exclusive cloud is a scenario where there is a limited availability of public cloud infrastructure and public cloud has proved to be more secure and compliant than legacy IT implementations. In this scenario, the Internet is no longer content neutral and as a result there will be less public cloud infrastructure. Those that can afford it will be able to get it, but at a price. There will be demand for public cloud because of its superior availability and on-demand features.

The blue skies scenario is a scenario where there is a limited availability of public cloud infrastructure and there remain real issues around security and compliance. In this scenario, the Internet is no longer content neutral and as a result there will be less public cloud infrastructure. In addition, the usage of the infrastructure that is there is hampered by security and compliance problems. The IT department will build private clouds and there will be little to no cloud access.

Even though none of these four scenarios might actually become reality, it is likely that the future of public cloud computing will have elements of all four included. It is therefore only common business sense to be prepared for it. Are you prepared for (elements of) these scenarios? Or are you putting all the money on the happy cloud? Let us know!

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3 Responses to “Four Public Cloud Computing Scenarios: Planning For The Cloud”

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  1. Hi again Pim

    Nice segmentation. Two other factors that I think impact the propensity of an organisation to purchase cloud services are complexity and propensity to outsource.

    Some companies have a history of outsourcing and see the benefits of engaging a third party to deliver IT and business services. These organisations will therefore find the concept of using a third party to deliver cloud services more attractive than organisations which have preferred to in source. Those that don’t already outsource some activities are less likely to find the concept of using a third party to deliver cloud services attractive.

    If your IT is highly complex and has undergone extensive customisation to meet very specific needs, it is less likely that a cloud service will meet your needs. If your IT is comparatively standardised, cloud services are much more likely to meet your needs. I can see a matrix in my mind. What do you think?

    Cheers

    Andrew

  2. Hi Andrew,

    Agreed. Such a matrix would also serve to position different computing environments within an organisation. E.g. ERP highly complex, so maybe not ready for cloud, and email or webconferencing simple, so why do this yourself, lets take this as a cloud service. Who was it that coined the term “your mess for less” for outsourcing?

    On the whole I think any organisation should (and wants) to strive towards simple IT. I think there are two roles for the IT department that are important in striving for simple IT : the innovator role, and the facilitator role. Simply put, any CIO should not try to build something that is readily available from the market for a fair price (the facilitator – guess you could call this “cloud first”). If not available from the market, a CIO should shine in creating custome and bespoke innovative IT (the innovator role). In this innovator role, the CIO should consider business needs first and foremost.

    I see much of the innovator IT role in companies being taken over by business, who do innovative things with public cloud IT. Where is the CIO? Do you agree?

    Pim

  3. Yes, the role of the CIO has to change dramatically. With much IT being standardised and commoditised, the CIO will need to understand his/her business in depth in order to offer any value, by using IT in non standardised ways. Some organisations will get to a stage where most IT resources can be sourced from the cloud in which case the IT department (which will probably be re-named) will act as a service desk. I think that you already said this in an earlier post.