The Growth of Hybrid Cloud Computing
Companies large and small are beginning to use the different hybrid cloud computing models to knit together services with both routine and innovative process environments. The future evolution of many interesting business process services can be characterized as belonging to three different areas:
Commodity business process services: These services are common to most businesses and are technically mature. They include services such as e-mail, accounting, and payment services. Although critical to the operations of most businesses, they’re not a differentiator. They simply are business requirements.
Specialized business process services: These services make a huge difference in the way a company competes. They could be specialized services, such as one used for molecular modeling or predictive analytics. These tend to be highly complex services to build and manage. Also, most companies won’t necessarily need them or have the infrastructure to continually support them.
Foundational building process services: In some situations, organizations need to customize business processes in unique ways. This is where products to create business process workflows come in. With this type of capability, companies can use templates and best practices from a cloud-based provider to create sophisticated linkages between business partners. This capability requires sophisticated underlying middleware that can broker between services and manage the data between services.
Business processes destined for the cloud
Some applications that embody business processes are inevitably destined for the cloud because of their high number of users and their ease of use in a cloud context. These applications form two groups:
Existing applications that are migrating to the cloud. The cloud makes the most sense for these established applications (for example, e-mail).
New applications that are taking off in the cloud faster than they are through the use of software installed in data centers, or where use of a data center isn’t available. For example, a service that analyzes data from MRI scans in remote applications can provide incredible value in remote locations. Sophisticated collaboration applications can provide a complex process management environment that would be too expensive for a small- or medium-sized business.
Business processes hidden in the cloud
Nearly all the important business processes of web businesses are run from the cloud, often at low cost. For example, unless you run a very large website, the web statistics software you use is most likely provided by Google. Your e-mail system likely runs on your web server, which itself is probably hosted by an Internet service provider (ISP). If you carry ads on your website, you’re probably using an ad server of some kind, which, again, doesn’t run out of your offices. Selling ads to fill the available space on your site is probably outsourced to an advertising broker.
Your website is probably running on software built by someone else with various software modules provided by yet another company. The photographs displayed on your website may well be sourced from another website, and even some of the content may be sourced from content syndication operations.
It’s easy to come up with a list of the business processes and applications that will, as a general rule, be run from the cloud in the future. A few organizations will run such applications themselves, for reasons of security or possibly technology integration, but most will not because of the cost.
Business processes already flying high
Many processes sold as on-premises productivity applications will become standard cloud environments. However, this transition will not happen overnight. Companies that make a living selling office software may be reluctant to move to a cloud model. In addition, an important market will remain for sophisticated consumers who deal with very sophisticated processes and will need the process on-premises. So, for now, hybrid business process environments will be the norm.
Here is a list of business processes that are already available from the cloud:
Clerical activity: Office software such as word processing, spreadsheets, and so on
Collaboration: Desktop-to-desktop capabilities, from webinars to collaborative work and file sharing
Communications: Unified communications, e-mail, instant messaging (IM), voice, conferencing
Data backup and disaster recovery: The ability to store information in a cloud service for both immediate retrieval and to protect against the loss of a system
Payment technology: PayPal, credit cards, voucher schemes, and so on
Research: Including marketing research, technical research, patent research, and almost all other areas of research
Website work: Design, content, advertising, and SEO