I moved to Singapore over fourteen years ago and one of things that struck me almost immediately when doing business here and elsewhere in Asia was the preference of concrete over abstract, value over valuation and now over future.
Let's start by elaborating on the first point. The richest people here have built their fortunes on property, manufacturing and trading. Why - because partly those are tangible things that can be valued easily and they can be valued now. This is very much in contrast to the United States where many of the billionaires have become rich by inventing new concepts that are often really difficult to put a price tag on.
Secondly, there is a clear propensity here to understand what the value of any action is, at any given time. Again, in the United States, the collective perceived valuation often takes precedence over actual value.
Now what does this have to do with cloud or even IT? Well, the concrete, and tangible hardware still has a special place in the heart of the IT managers and CIOs over software and services. Owning hardware is to be in control of our business and is something, which people cannot take away from us easily, just like a piece of property or a stupendously expensive car. But it's also more than that - it's a status symbol for the company and the person who manages those IT assets.
The cloud does not fare well in this comparison because it's exactly the opposite of any of those things - intangible, abstract, and a utility (while a nice watch is a subtle way of displaying of status here, it is not as common for us to hype up our electricity bills).
The returns from using the cloud are often difficult to measure or justify on pure dollar value. The value provided by the cloud is about whether or not an enterprise can achieve certain outcomes by using cloud services. One outcome might be to save money, but the value of the cloud comes in many forms. Trying to measure the ROI of using the cloud is a lot harder than it is for a piece of hardware or software.
If the cloud is understood at all, it's mostly reduced to three components: compute, storage and virtualization. But that is as if we were to claim that a car only consist of a chassis, engine and tires. What makes a car an ultimate driving machine are all those other neat little things like seats, suspension and air-con.
The very same is true for the cloud. What makes the cloud an ultimate driving machine are all the services build on top of the hardware, consisting mainly software. Automated back-ups, high-availability and scalability are the equivalent of the onboard comforts we enjoy when we proceed from a gantry to gantry on our daily journeys.
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