Cloud Computing – Threat or Opportunity? Part 1

Cloud Computing – Threat or Opportunity? Part 1

Threat – an indication or warning of probable trouble

Opportunity – a good position, chance, or prospect, as for advancement or success

A new technology, a new way of thinking, a new environment, a paradigm shift – these are often threats to established players who dominate the landscape. However, these same things often offer opportunities for others to thrive.

Consider the dinosaurs. While a meteor impact is considered the most probable cause of their extinction, scientists believe it is actually the changing climate in the aftermath of the impact that killed them. However, warm-blooded mammals began to flourish. In other words, the changed environment after the impact was a fatal threat to dinosaurs, but an opportunity to mammals in that they became the dominant life form on the planet. Thank God they did, otherwise there would be no humans ruling Earth today.

At the same time, consider the shark. Sharks have existed for over 420 million years, easily predating dinosaurs. How then did they survive? Simple – by adapting to changing circumstances. Consider that the Great White Shark, one of the most fearsome predators of the seas, is a mere 1/20th size of its ancestor, the Megalodon. The Megalodon died out millions of years ago, but its sleeker, smaller descendant lives on.

My apologies for the lesson in history, but I wanted to draw parallels between sudden change as experienced by dinosaurs and sharks, and that experienced by IT companies due to the emergence of cloud computing. In other words, cloud computing can be considered a threat to established players, an opportunity for some newer businesses, and in the rare case, both a threat and an opportunity for some established companies.

Now, no company wants to be in the first category – they would rather be in the third. HP and Oracle resisted the wave for some time before they too decided to join it rather than fight it (See: HP Declares Ambitious Plans in Cloud Computing Space and Oracle On Cloud Computing Road Trip Around The World).

Microsoft, one of the giants of the IT industry, albeit old, tried to fight off the “dinosaur” tag with its Azure PaaS offering, but found few takers as compared to Amazon’s and Salesforce.com’s offerings. Now it has introduced the cloud version of its popular Office suite in an effort to stave of Google Apps (See: Microsoft Office 365 and Google Apps – Part 1). In other words, they are adapting, or at least, trying to.

Of course, there have some companies which have grown by leaps and bounds on the strength of cloud computing alone – Rackspace, VMware and Salesforce.com readily come to mind. Some others, like Amazon and Google, have found the cloud to be an attractive source of revenue in addition to their main lines of advertisements and online retailing. Amazon found that the huge IT infrastructure it had could easily be rented out, and that started its march towards the cloud. Therefore, it found an opportunity in cloud computing.

In conclusion, I can say that cloud computing is certainly a threat to the likes of Microsoft; but, if they manage to address customer expectations, it can turn out to be a great opportunity as well. As for those who are already on the cloud big time, unless they have regular SNAFUs like the Amazon outage in April (See: Lessons from the Amazon Cloud Outage), things can only get better.

By Sourya Biswas

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