In a recent interview I did with Chris Drumgoole, chief operating officer of IT for GE, it was clear that applications were the linchpin of his cloud strategy -- which is based on a bold decision to migrate all of GE's IT to the public cloud over time. Like most IT leaders, Drumgoole understands the importance of enabling developers to deliver more and better applications that increase engagement with customers and partners, not to mention the company's own employees. But Drumgoole also sees applications as the lens through which GE saw that public cloud computing would ultimately cost less than the company maintaining its own IT infrastructure.
Cost and business dependency have provided two strong arguments against big shifts to the public cloud. Conventional wisdom goes like this: Sure, if you enlist the service of a cloud provider, you don't need to make the initial capital investment in hardware and software, but over time you'll pay as much or more. Plus, you're at the mercy of the cloud provider; if it jacks up rates or suddenly loses its ability to execute, you're out of luck.
Rather than focus on the comparative costs of systems or services, Drumgoole claims GE has a very deep view of the cost of applications, and when everything is taken into account, applications deployed in the public cloud cost less. Plus, to mitigate the business risks of depending on one public cloud, GE deliberately spreads itself across many providers, with a deep, near-real-time view into operating costs across all of them.
GE's perspective is highly advanced. Why shouldn't it be? The company is a leader in the Internet of things, with a keen eye for the inherent value in immense quantities of data that will stream from sensors embedded in a loads of industrial equipment manufactured by GE. The company is on the leading edge of our hyperconnected future.
The more connections between objects, the more the center of gravity rises to the cloud, because the data is already streaming across the Internet. In our data-intensive future, I can't imagine the overhead of endlessly syncing and securing countless locally maintained data stores. Most of the major cloud providers already have better security than you do -- and will improve those defenses faster than you can -- ultimately providing a safer home for data critical to your business.
As Salesforce reminded us last week, lots of important data is already "up there" in the cloud, which will spawn all kinds of new connected cloud applications. Granted, many obstacles to critical data ascending to the public cloud persist, not the least of which are government regulations -- and legacy systems that work perfectly well need not go anywhere. But heed the signs. Year by year, the rumblings of a mass skyward migration are growing louder.
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