Cloud, or X-as a Service is not the end game.

I’m a  big fan of cloud computing, over 2 years ago I wrote that in my opinion “SaaS was here to stay” because it was a natural evolution of traditional IT. In fact it was ICT, finally fulfilling its TCO promises.

But its not the end game. As good as it is, I think that the phenomenon has unwittingly instigated its own demise…

I think, businesses have been given a taste of value, and that this will be the key driver for change. At the end of the day, CEO’s want outcomes. They are raving about “service” now (which only highlights what a failure the traditional IT model has become in the business users eyes), but soon they will demand more.

I think that the next big thing will be outcomes. Business lead buyers (our new reality), heavily influenced by consumerisation, will move on and focus on how what you are selling achieves their outcomes.

“You take our CRM system, and your sales efficiency and hence revenue will increase to ..”

“Buy and system to collaboration, and productivity per employee will increase by 15%”

At this point in time, people buy technology to create a system to deliver a business outcome. Not the most efficient supply chain.

The trend toward technology becoming irrelevant is already in train, paying for the technology is next.

"Outcomes" the next big thing…

The proprietary debates comes back to life

There seems to be a constant debate in cloud computing and media as a service circles about proprietary systems. Sinclair Schuller today asks if the future is cloud is proprietary silos, while Bob Warfield and others wade into the Apple Adobe dabate.

This whole phenomenon is a balance between controlling the user experience and operating a free market to deliver choice.  It’s a question of timing…

Here is an anology based on an observation…. Societies that don’t know when their next meal is coming don’t worry about animal welfare or organic food. That’s a luxury, something you can only do when all your basic needs are being met.

Technology is the same.  When you are building disruptive services that are in the early phase of their adoption (which cloud still is), the user experience across all facets of the value chain is normally below the good enough line for the majority. That is they are still worrying about the basics.  The only way to bring that ‘good enough” experience to the majority is for the developers to control most aspects of the delivery. 

To do that you vertically integrate and write proprietary code to ensure that you can control the experience. 

This is why Apply closely tied the proprietary iTunes to the proprietary hardware (iPhone).  DRM wasn’t working, so they took a different approach and locked down and integrated the hardware with the content platform. Philosophical reservations aside, the iTunes to hardware experience as a consumer is great….Again, the only people griping about that proprietary ecosystem are those who are more technically savvy, past the “good enough” , line and demanding greater choice.

Cloud will be the same. Private clouds are becoming vertically integrated. WAN’s, compute, storage and management are all being delivered by one proprietary stack (take VBlock). The providers can control the every aspect and deliver on the user experience…

But this will change,  but only when technology matures enough and the ‘good enough experience is delivered to the majority…. When that happens users will demand choice, far greater choice than a single vendor with a proprietary vertically integrated stack can deliver. The kind of choice that only comes from open standards…

This pattern has happened time after time in every industry, shipping, electricity, Telecommunications, it will happen for Cloud.