Is cloud computing being adopted by the small and medium-sized business (SMB) space or large enterprises? What is the business case for its adoption?
Instant messaging, customer relationship management and HR applications based in the cloud are increasing. We also observe the adoption of hosted applications such as virtual desktops. Remote infrastructure management is now happening over the cloud. We have also seen Web-based application platforms.
Most of the adoption is by medium-sized businesses. Clients usually have contentions about the cost of entry of a software package, if you buy licensed software. Hence, vendors provide the option of renting applications. For example, consider a medium-sized business like Oxford Book Store. A full-sized Web engine is not financially viable for the organization, so it hired a Web platform from TCS.
Another limitation that SMBs face is underinvestment in technology. To make the next leap, they should invest in creating a huge infrastructure or look into the cloud framework. In the case of SaaS, many companies were earlier saddled with additional fees and development delays each time a front-end change was involved. Do you think cloud service vendors will be able to tide over these shortcomings?
Why not? Cloud computing models in use now are highly customisable. For example, if you want to have more storage capacity, it can be dynamically allocated. It's a fallacy that only packaged software can be customisable. If you closely examine these cloud-based applications, back-end components are the same, but the front end is highly customisable.
Software which has been picked up for the SaaS model has usually been in the market for a while. For example, take CRM software itself. Due to years of extensive experience in industry domains, the vendor knows what the customer's requirements are, and keeps on fine tuning the solution's capabilities. So overall, cloud computing services are quite customisable.
Cloud computing is not for businesses with a highly dynamic requirement (say 10 to 12% increase in processing loads) on any given day. However, most organisations have standard transaction patterns, and cloud computing is apt for them.
There are certain things that cloud computing cannot do as of now. However, with newer developments, they may be able to gear up to become dynamic enough to suit on-the-fly requirements. Today you have virtual desktop services, where you can effectively create 100 PCs within an hour. If required, those 100 PCs can be removed in the next hour. How much more can cloud computing be dynamically flexible? If a business wants to opt for a cloud-based service, what are the aspects that it should specify in the service-level agreement?
Data security is one thing that comes across clearly. This is followed by acceptable latency and downtime.
The next aspect is about how dynamic the service provider can be. If you reduce or increase the number of users very fast, can they cope with it? The degree to which the service provider can customise its service for business needs is also essential to consider. Are the security concerns that surround cloud computing justified?
Security concerns associated with cloud computing is just a perception, and will go away with time. It'll be similar to how people have become comfortable using credit cards for online transactions over the years. What would be your advice for Indian businesses that are thinking of adopting cloud computing?
Definitely go for it, and look at applications which can be used on the cloud. There should be a short-term, medium-term and long-term strategy. Don't blindly opt for cloud computing. It doesn't make sense if you've invested in a very expensive software package but opt for a cloud-based service just because it's new. Have a mix of cloud as well as traditional applications. Don't move completely into the cloud. You need to evaluate the applications to be ported, with an unbiased frame of mind. There are various applications available on cloud platforms, and while all of them may not suit you, there will definitely be some you can opt for.