I hate talking about topics of the week, such as the debate around Yahoo's new CEO, Marissa Mayer, telling her staffers to stop working from home.
First, in my opinion, CEOs are allowed to make such statements to their employees, and you can't judge unless you work there or own stock. Second, it probably won't help Yahoo one bit.
However, what is relevant about this issue is the use of cloud computing by a remote workforce. What are those synergies? That's worth discussing.
The work-at-home movement drives a great deal of interest in cloud computing. Public cloud platforms are typically better at providing IT services over the open Internet than enterprise IT is capable of doing. Thus, the public cloud can better serve a workforce that's as likely to work at the local Starbucks as the corner conference room because they can push processing, storage, and enterprise applications to a middle tier between the company and the user. In other words, connectivity, security, capacity management, and resiliency become somebody else's problem.
Indeed, the more distributed your workforce, the more public cloud computing can benefit the support of that workforce. Innovative enterprises are adopting Dropbox or Box.net for file sharing services, taking up Google Apps for office automation and collaboration, accessing SaaS-based solutions such as Saleforce.com for CRM, and beginning to migrate large portions of operational data to public IaaS providers such as Amazon Web Services. If you add mobile computing and BYOD to the equation, the public cloud becomes even more compelling.
Of course, some companies push back on public cloud computing with the normal excuses, including security, privacy, ownership, and so on. But those busineses typically don't offer work-at-home options to their employees, I've found.
While a remote workforce issue is typically not the only benefit that drives business to the cloud, it's often on the radar. Moreover, companies innovative enough to create a strong remote workforce are typically the organizations that accept cloud computing. If they trust people to work poolside, then trusting public clouds is not much of a stretch.
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