Not so long ago, cloud solutions were viewed as alternative or fringe options for large enterprises — useful for limited purposes, but not viable as mainstream solutions.
However, given the rapid rate of technology evolution over the past 12 months, there is now an air of inevitability around migration to the cloud.
In the past, the focus was on the risk to enterprises of moving to the cloud. That focus hasn't gone away but the debate has now moved on.
The cost imperatives and speed-to-market capabilities are so compelling that we will be forced to find solutions to address any impediments arising from security, privacy, data sovereignty, etc. And it's only a matter of time before just about everything will be delivered as a service.
Cloud as a disruptor — parallels with offshoring
The approach to cloud has some parallels with the migration to offshoring. Not that long ago, the risks and challenges around offshoring created enormous angst and political heat.
But due to various imperatives — a lack of onshore skills, cost, and the need to rebuild controls — a "new normal" has emerged with a significant proportion of IT and business processes migrated offshore.
Ironically, cloud solutions have the potential to create a far greater disruption for the local IT industry than was the case for offshoring. They displace the need for existing IT resources across an entire IT stack — from the data centre through to infrastructure and apps — impacting on supporting IT resources across those layers.
Speculation is now rife as to the long-term impact of cloud on the traditional IT sector.
Cloud as a driver of our competitiveness
What matters now is the speed and sophistication with which Australia takes up cloud given the opportunities that cloud implementations provide for huge leaps in competitiveness. Is Australia lagging behind regional and international markets in the take-up of cloud, and if so, what are the impediments?
In particular, are there legal or regulatory impediments, recognising that Australia's privacy laws set a high-water mark for protection of personal data across the Asia Pacific region?
Are Australian enterprises more conservative in the take-up of cloud, as compared with their competitors across our region? And are Australian in-house IT teams adopting an approach of self-protection in relation to cloud? That is, are they behaving like 'box-huggers', wanting to retain control over their own IT shop regardless of the cost consequences?
Opinions vary greatly: this was a hot topic of debate at a recent industry forum held at Gilbert + Tobin. Why does it matter? Because Australia's use of technology such as cloud will go to the heart of our competitiveness across all areas of the economy — from the corporate world all the way through to the local restaurant or retail store.
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