At a recent industry event, someone asked me what my position on the cloud is. At first this seemed like a silly question. After all, we’ve come a long way from the days when cloud technology was seen as strictly a pro or con issue. But on further reflection, I realized that I do have strong opinions on this topic. There is a lot of debate about cloud storage and file movement via the cloud.
To be a leader in the cloud arena, you need to have a clear definition of what cloud technology means to you, and your approach to cloud computing. I call this the “Cloud Credo.” Mine is built on three key points: content should be free; SaaS is here to stay; and, “design for the cloud” is worth the effort. I’ll provide details on the first two ideas here — and stay tuned for more thoughts on design for the cloud in another post!
Content Should Be Free
We’ve all heard the mantra “the customer is always right,” and that rings true in terms of cloud computing as well. I believe that customers should be free to choose where their content resides.
In terms of the movement of large files, that means products should be designed for storage independence. Modern storage decisions are complex and situational – some classes of assets might be kept on premises, while it might make sense to store others in private clouds, and still others should be sent to the public cloud. Technology providers shouldn’t take a position on what content should go where.
For example, consumer file-sharing services are built on a model of storing customers’ assets in a specific multi-tenant public cloud environment. But, this isn’t the only option. I believe customers are better served through a cloud philosophy that is focused on providing innovative, high-performance tools to support the storage profile of the end users’ business, whatever that might be.
As cloud technology continues to evolve, object storage systems such as Amazon S3 and Azure have become a hot topic. Some extra “secret sauce” is needed to accelerate the movement of large files (even petabytes of information) into these object storage systems, and this requires an investment. In my opinion, that investment is worth it.
Many organizations have decided that, despite the buzz around cloud storage, they prefer to keep their information closer. I predict that vendors that offer choices in terms of where files are stored (either on-premises or in the cloud) will be those that thrive in the future.
There are many storage options when dealing with large files, but at the end of the day the most important consideration is what will best meet the end user’s needs.
SaaS is Here to Stay
The fact that the world is moving toward SaaS is now undeniable. As I mentioned, organizations have different needs and some still want on-premises solutions, which are better for certain applications. But, the excitement over SaaS is clear.
IT folks appreciate the reliability and scalability of SaaS, but the real eye-opener for me is how much value it brings to end users and their managers. The big win for them is rapid innovation. For example, frequent automatic software updates allow end users to take advantage of new features without all the aggravation of an on-premises software upgrade process. This is particularly significant in the media business, where downtime for software upgrades is fundamentally incompatible with a 24/7 operation.
I’ve also noticed a trend of end users rapidly moving through the cycle of accepting – and then actually preferring – the consumption-based pricing associated with SaaS. This, too, aligns well with the dynamic, project-oriented nature of the creative industries.
Cloud technology is constantly evolving, but by offering flexible solutions that benefit the end user, it’s possible to stay ahead of the crowd. What’s your “cloud credo”?
Margaret Craig is CEO of Signiant.
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