The Next Cloud Era Is Coming

Nov 21, 2013

Photo: Wolfgang Von Brauchitsch

Cloud computing is fundamentally changing the way people engage in everyday actions from banking to buying, selling, and listening to music. For businesses, storing data and software "in the cloud" - as opposed to on physical, onsite servers - and having the ability to remotely access that data and software from anywhere there’s an Internet connection has opened up new possibilities.

In its simplest form, cloud computing fulfills low-hanging fruit, or cost-driven, implementations, such as websites and email, as a one-time transaction based model. But a confluence of forces - open, flexible and collaborative IT infrastructure, the emergence of Big Data analytics, and the increased use of mobile devices - demands a higher-value cloud that can provide businesses with the infrastructure necessary for growth and, ultimately, transformation.

The open, higher-value cloud integrates technologies so that systems can connect and scale. It is based on open standards, enabling interoperability, collaboration, transparency and, most importantly, the security needed to scale and transform businesses for future growth. It creates flexibility, allowing businesses to take advantage of the cloud without being locked into a proprietary platform or a single cloud service provider.

The open cloud also allows for accelerated innovation. It makes it possible for businesses to quickly deploy or modify the infrastructure they rely on, in less than a minute. This deployment speed endows businesses with great power and flexibility. Take, for example, the accelerated rate of innovation coming out of the medical, education, home health services and social networking areas. We also see many smaller, newer companies born on the cloud providing superior products and services and going quicker to market.

Cloud computing, as we know it today, is just the beginning. As the technology matures, who knows how we may be using the cloud even a year from now. Concepts such as the internet of things and Smarter Cities are growing ever closer to becoming the norm as organizations begin to realize that the cloud can do so much more than simply speed up or reduce the cost of their IT. The fact is, the cloud can totally transform IT and move the conversation beyond it -- ultimately, fueling the next wave of innovation.

Jim Comfort is IBM General Manager of Global Technology Services

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