Industry analyst Jeff Kaplan from THINKstrategies has been focused on cloud computing long before the term was coined and the bandwagon was full. And with his busy travel schedule, you could say he has his head in the clouds most of the time these days.
I recently sat down with Jeff to discuss the market landscape, the evolution of cloud computing adoption, and the importance of integration to cloud success.
What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen from both a customer and vendor perspective?
Jeff Kaplan: Everyone is talking about the “cloud.” In fact, many organizations have moved beyond asking “what is the cloud” or “why the cloud” to now looking at specific ways they can capitalize on the rapidly expanding array of cloud solutions which are coming to market. In fact, this is the “good news/bad news” aspect of today’s “Cloud Rush.” Organizations of all sizes, across nearly every industry, have an opportunity to leverage cloud solutions to innovate and gain a competitive advantage; but tying these cloud resources together with their legacy systems and data sources is essential for success. So, cloud integration is a major concern. Fortunately, advancements in integration tools and techniques are allowing organizations to quickly overcome these challenges.
If you could give IT organizations one piece of advice about moving to the cloud, what would it be?
Jeff Kaplan: Although the cloud looks like a panacea for many business problems, it can also create a Pandora’s Box of additional issues as organizations attempt to effectively integrate cloud solutions into their legacy environment or tie cloud solutions together with one another. Therefore, IT and business decision-makers should thoroughly evaluate their data integration requirements in order to maximize the value of the cloud before procuring these on-demand services.
What about software vendors?
Jeff Kaplan: In the old world, ISVs could get away with putting the burden of integration on their customers and channel partners because it was assumed that every software deployment was going to be highly customized with specific integration solutions. Today, customers are willing to accept more standardized solutions in order to accelerate the deployment process and increase the productivity of their business applications. Therefore, embedding integration capabilities into today’s applications and building tightly connected partner ecosystems in order to enable customers to reduce the time to value is essential to satisfy their needs and gain a competitive advantage.
Cloud data management is getting more and more attention these days. Why is that?
Jeff Kaplan: First, because cloud solutions are creating a new strata of resources that are generating and utilizing important data that is being layered on top of that which is being produced by organizations’ legacy systems and software. Second, the data being generated by cloud solutions can be accessed real-time and aggregated across multiple sources. Third, capitalizing on this data is an important part of maximizing the value of the cloud. Therefore, creating effective cloud data management capabilities is essential.
Haven’t we seen this movie before? What’s different this time?
Jeff Kaplan: Yes, the emergence of the PC in the 1980s and client-server architecture in the 1990s created similar explosions of data and concerns about integration. We are fortunate that many of today’s cloud solutions are built on a narrower set of industry standards and today’s integration tools are more flexible and economical to deploy to meet the latest challenges.
What’s next for you and THINKstrategies?
Jeff Kaplan: We have been talking about the transformation of the tech industry from a product-centric to a service-driven business model for the past decade, and the rapid adoption of cloud solutions is the clearest example of this phenomenon. In addition to educating corporate decision-makers – both customers and vendors – about the business implications of this market shift, we are also providing help and advice to them about how they can capitalize on these trends to achieve their corporate objectives and gain a competitive advantage. So, we are now shifting our focus from the horizontal solutions market, which is quickly maturing to industry-specific strategies for success which is quickly evolving.
Thanks Jeff! Safe travels.
Jeffrey M. Kaplan is the Founder and Managing Director of THINKstrategies, a strategic consulting firm that helps IT enterprise decision-makers with their sourcing strategies; solution providers with their marketing strategies; and venture firms with their investment strategies. Jeff is also the founder of the Cloud Computing Showplace, the largest vendor-independent online directory and best practice resource center of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) solutions, including Managed Services.