Public cloud solutions remain mired in a sea of distrust because of their inability to overcome enterprise governance and reliability concerns. Yet, these solutions are still finding inroads into enterprises if they can present specific business solutions to line of business managers who are championing them. In today's business settings, where are public cloud solutions most likely to succeed, and what can public cloud providers learn from this adoption to enhance their chances for future adoption?
First, offer a solution that delivers economy that enterprises can't resist!
Several public cloud solutions are gaining traction in this area. Among them are:
Public cloud IaaS (infrastructure as a service) enables enterprises to forego building new data centers or expanding existing ones. They do this by offloading their application development, testing and staging to third-party cloud providers. Since they can pay a baseline subscription that increments or decrements on a pay-as-you-go basis, enterprises incur no new capital expenses and they also reduce the risk of resources that sit idle during times when application development, testing and staging activities are slow. As long as a cloud provider has governance and data protection policies that meet enterprise standards, outsourcing is an option that can be extremely attractive to CIOs and CFOs.
During peak processing times like the holiday retail season, enterprises can increment processing and storage by "renting" the resources they need from the cloud. The financial benefit is much the same as it is for application testing and staging.
Again assuming that the cloud provider can meet corporate governance standards, some enterprises are opting to offload historical data from their data centers to the cloud. This assumes that the data will not be needed for big data trends analytics, and is for long term storage purposes only.
The jury is still out on VDI, which began as a "hot" idea to reduce office software licensing fees, but resulted in both performance and management issues for VDI—but it is still on corporate CIOs' radars.
Next, offer a solution that solves an issue that enterprises can't solve on their own!
ERP (enterprise requirements planning system) was designed for internal processes and operational integration within the walls of the enterprise. Unfortunately, businesses going global need to manage thousands of suppliers worldwide through a series of external business processes and data exchanges that their internal systems are ill-suited for. A number of cloud-based providers are making a splash in the supply chain area by offering integrated networks of suppliers and companies—all with secure access to a uniform data repository.
So much work has gone into revenue generation that enterprises still find themselves losing on profit margins because of inefficient back-office operations that eat up profits, and that they can't seem to fix. Especially in industries like brokerage and financial services, there are now cloud-based analytics solutions that determine where back-office "profit bleed" is occurring—and stop it.
Field-based operations like sales are another example of an external business function that is difficult for traditional enterprise systems to address. A plethora of cloud-based solutions are being utilized by enterprises that enable real time access to sales management and customer relationship management systems, giving everyone in sales, marketing, service and the C-Suite 360-degree visibility of the customer and of sales progress.
Project management activities in enterprises have suffered for years because of inefficient and monolithic project management systems that depended on a central project administrator to keep tasks updated as information came in. Needless to say, the accuracy of project status suffered—often spelling disaster for project timelines and deliverables. Now there are cloud-based solutions that link together every project participant and stakeholder, enabling real time updates to projects and real time collaboration that project managers have never seen before.
While these use cases are promising for public cloud providers, it doesn't change the fact that many public cloud providers are still struggling to attain the market shares they want because of continuing enterprise skepticism over the strength of their governance—and their ability to deliver solutions that are significantly better than what the enterprise already has. No doubt, these perceptions will continue to haunt public cloud providers in the near term. This makes it more important than ever to fill a need that enterprises can't meet—or to deliver a cost savings proposition that is so compelling that it is impossible to ignore.
Mary E. Shacklett is president of Transworld Data, a technology research and market development firm. Prior to founding the company, Mary was Senior Vice President of Marketing and Technology at TCCU, Inc., a financial services firm; Vice President of Product Research and Software Development for Summit Information Systems, a computer software company; and Vice President of Strategic Planning and Technology at FSI International, a multinational manufacturing company in the semiconductor industry. Mary is a keynote speaker and has more than 1,000 articles, research studies, and technology publications in print.