Atlanta, GA – Everywhere you looked, everywhere you listened, you caught some mention of “the cloud” this year at Microsoft Convergence 2011. While walking around the Expo Hall, I noticed about 4 times the amount of cloud application hosting providers over the previous year. Most focused on their ability to deliver Dynamics software into a cloud environment.
As a SaaS vendor whose been delivering HR applications on the web since 1999, I was a little confused about the hype of “the cloud”. To me, the cloud was something I would add to a flow-chart 10 years ago to illustrate the internet. “What’s the big deal,” I thought? This is old news.
Flowchart using the (old) cloud:
However, it isn’t old news to companies considering moving their entire payroll, HRIS and financial systems to a server hosted at a data center somewhere in the world. It’s a big step when you consider the complexity of the software, and its centrality to a companies’ mission. It’s a big step when you think about the feeling of a loss of control by companies who have entire departments dedicated to maintaining those systems.
The “private cloud” I learned, isn’t a term to describe a secure cloud application (although it could be used in that way), but rather it describes a company’s ability to reserve a specific server in a specific data center for it’s private use. Seems like that should be rather standard, but I guess it’s not so much. Many cloud application hosting providers do not dedicate servers to specific customers, but rather bounce them around as needed. That doesn’t work for organizations, like Canadian governments, that have specific laws surrounding the location of their data.
All of this is very good for traditional SaaS application providers. As IT gets more and more comfortable with having their applications online, not only does it get easier for systems to integrate, it means they’ll be taking advantage of online software even more.
And that means I’m thankful for the (new) cloud.