Homing In on Best Use of the Public Cloud

When new technology arrives, it’s not always clear how best to use it. Mobile phone makers invented the text message because they thought it would be of use to technicians in their troubleshooting. Since then the SMS has become one of the most popular means of communication for the general public ever. Similarly, public cloud capabilities have been through the mill with users adopting or discarding uses for them. The applications that have turned out to be the most popular so far have elements in common relating to one of four main advantages of the cloud: immediacy, accessibility, capacity and reach.

The immediacy of the public cloud makes it instantly attractive for applications such as short-term application testing and staging. Rather than wait for an extension to its own data centre, an organisation can use public cloud resources available today. And when the testing is done, they can stop the use of the cloud service and avoid having machines within their own IT department standing idle. Similarly, the financial accessibility of public cloud via pay-as-you-go offerings also makes it attractive for other one-off projects, or for seasonal computing loads that come and go. The capacity of the cloud means it can absorb such requirements easily, including large-scale (for the customer) data archiving.

While the immediacy, accessibility and capacity of the public cloud were all visible from the start, the surprise factor has perhaps been the way that the cloud consolidates computing between teams and business partners. In sales force management, supplier management and project management and collaboration, a number of companies are finding the cloud does what they need, and what they couldn’t do using their internal systems. However, the public cloud still raises issues about governance when a corporation’s data is ‘out there’; even if a ‘victim of its own success’ is a little premature as a conclusion. The tug of war between supporters and critics of the cloud in this sense will continue to shape the uses made of it into the future.