A nebulous 2009

Anyone reading this issue of Information Age closely is going to spot a recurring theme.

Google features prominently in four of the main articles. As one of the pioneers of cloud computing, it is central to our cover story on the experiences of early adopters of this new model of IT service delivery (‘Into the cloud’). As the leader in web search, it
features heavily in our portrayal of how businesses and public sector organisations are applying search to track and access their growing mountains of unstructured content (‘Journey of discovery’). It is the main subject in the book review section where we look at Planet Google by New York Times writer Randall Stross.

And the company is also a central character in the write up of Information Age’s recent IT for the M Business conference (‘The middle way’) – as is one of its poster children for cloud computing, the construction and demolition services company Erith.

Ten years ago, it might have been Microsoft featured with such frequency in articles. Twenty years ago it would have been IBM.

But, arguably, what that shows is that Google’s time for engagement with the enterprise has come. And, by many accounts, that feeling is mutual.

In the last few weeks alone, Information Age reporters have talked to a half a dozen senior IT decision-makers who are trialling Google Apps, the Office-like package delivered as a service over the web. We have also talked to global companies – investment banks, no less – interested in using Google’s storage-as-a-service offering.

Until recently such discussion would have been about small-scale trials – tens or maybe even hundreds of users, possibly in remote branch offices or those on the move.

But recent discussions are on a different scale altogether. In a specific case, one of the world’s largest business services companies is currently trialling 1,500 Google Apps seats; and the early feedback is that it is going to extend that roll out to all 15,000
of the company’s employees (Information Age will be profiling that company’s
groundbreaking decision early next year.)

There are plenty of reasons behind such commitments. While even
Microsoft acknowledges that cloud computing is going to play a central role – perhaps the central role – in business IT delivery in the future, the economic downturn is accelerating such thinking.

Under pressure to cut costs but maintain high-quality IT services, organisations of all sizes are investigating how the pay-as-you-go, subscription pricing of cloud
computing (and all its constituent parts, software-as-a-service (SaaS), platform-asa-
service, storage-as-a-service and so on) can help them move capital expenditure in IT to the operating expense line.

Plenty of other companies are blazing that same trail. Salesforce.com (in SaaS
CRM), Rackspace (applications hosting) are just two others. But whether
customers chose Google, Microsoft, IBM or HP or some other partner to provide their first cloud services, the sense is that 2009 will see the initial wave of enterprise cloud adoption.

David Cliff

David Cliff is managing director of Houghton le Spring-based Gedanken, a company specialising in coaching-based support and personal development. Cliff is an experienced trainer, manager and therapist,...

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