Shape of future IT emerges through the cloud

29 Mar 2013

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As cloud computing matures and its reach within business continues, some signs are emerging through the fog about what the future holds for IT. Market watcher Ovum has forecast what a very changed technology landscape will look like by 2020. Closer to home, technology entrepreneur Robert Baker has posited a view of how the sector might look after a shakeout among the current crop of tech giants.

In a research note, Ovum said a wide range of interconnected, social, mobile and cloud-based collaboration platforms on multiple devices mean that workers in 2020 will face a very different work life from today, “never tethered to one location and able to share and access knowledge more easily”.

The firm highlighted Citrix, Google, VMware and Yammer as the companies leading this “radical change”, due to their own “unique vision” of how continued growth in enterprise mobility, the cloud enterprise application ecosystem, and the behavioural impact of social networks can enable businesses to function more efficiently and creatively in the future.

“The way in which we work will change dramatically over the next seven years, more than in the previous 30, meaning the enterprise of 2020 will need to be more agile and more responsive than it is today,” said Richard Edwards, principal analyst at Ovum.

“To remain successful, there will have to be significant change in operations, systems and cultural levels. By 2020, knowledge workers will need and want a set of tools far different to those of today, so for the CIO, the important choice will be which vendor to follow.”

Rise of new clouds of clouds

Robert Baker, CEO of Baker Security and Networks (BSN), has worked in the technology sector since the late Eighties. In 1993 his company connected the first Irish Government department to the internet.

Baker suggests a series of cloud ecosystems will emerge, each operated by a technology provider offering access to a range of apps aimed at meeting most needs of an organisation.

In some ways the wheel has turned full circle back to the days of mainframes, when the hardware, operating system and application software were proprietary to an individual vendor such as IBM, Digital or HP, and businesses by default became closely tied to one supplier.

With the cloud, Baker believes a similar model is emerging again. “Now the operating system at the desktop is irrelevant, so what’s relevant now is the cloud environment. The guys who own that environment are the new Microsofts,” he says.

“The disruptive players at an industry level are going to be Amazon, Google, probably IBM because you can never discount them, and Microsoft. The also-rans will be SAP and Oracle because they are well established in the corporate market. For example, Oracle has so much penetration and so much code written around it in corporate environments, it’s going to be very attractive to move the data from corporate data centres to an Oracle cloud environment.”

Baker’s company BSN is a Google Enterprise Partner and has managed projects to move organisations like the GAA and UCD to the Google Apps platform. Robert Baker says many SMEs – especially start-ups – have been faster to embrace cloud, partly because they have less legacy IT systems to migrate.

“Among the established businesses we’re seeing the usual profile – first are the early adopters and now we’re starting to see the movement of the middle core. It hasn’t happened yet but I feel it’s going to happen this year. I’ve just returned from the US and the middle core are moving there already: these are old traditional mid-sized general businesses that have gone to the cloud.”

The trend is starting to happen in Europe, with Spanish bank BBVA moving 110,000 users onto the Google Apps platform and French pharma giant Roche doing likewise.

Overall, Baker says the move to cloud is a positive development. “I think it’s a win-win-win: It’s good for the vendors, it’s good for the business, it’s good for the consumer. It’s slashing the cost of production and that has to be good. It’s good for the environment – the cost of operating and distribution software is far less than it used to be. Software can be an order of magnitude less expensive. People are getting more data that’s integrated, more reliably, it’s more secure and they’re getting it at lower cost,” he told Siliconrepublic.com.

Cloud business image via Shutterstock