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Cloud Computing: Key Trends

Kishore S. Swaminathan Chief Scientist Accenture Sanjeev Narsipur Lead, IT Strategy and Transformation Accenture

It seems as if cloud computing is mostly about efficient allocation of computer resources and capabilities, but that is only part of the story. To understand its powerful and long-term potential, we need to shift our focus elsewhere. In this article, we look at the bigger picture for enterprise users and examine why cloud computing has the potential to change the IT and business landscape.

Given the diversity in the expectations of enterprise users, their security requirements and objectives, cloud providers are offering services to their clients under four broad operational modelsprivate, public, community and hybrid.

From Concept to Reality


A common misconception about cloud computing is that it is a do-it-yourself model for business and IT services, requiring no customization at all. While it is true that companies do not have the headache of investing in and managing on-premise IT resources, cloud computing is by no means a plug-andplay or turnkey solution. At the very least, it will require IT executives to manage multiple external cloud providers and an internal IT environment, which is likely to be a combination of old and legacy applications and new applications that run in a virtualized environment (an internal cloud). Since at present, the integration of such services is not part of the technical or business models of cloud providers, enterprise users will need to seek out integration services elsewhere. Another view you are likely to come across is that cloud computing will eliminate the need for outsourcing or integration services. As explained above, companies will need to manage a complex and hybrid IT environment. They will, therefore, need help in:

Cloud Basics
Cloud computing is a model or, as some call it, style of computing that gives subscribers on-demand access to configurable computing resources as a service via the Internet. Consequently, Business Process as a Service (Baas), Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) can be dynamically provisioned and then released with minimal management effort or involvement of the service provider. Although not quite as simple as turning your electrical switch on and getting billed for electricity usage, the analogy makes a pointyou pay only for those hardware and software resources and capabilities (in the cloud) that you use. Today, we live in a world where users expect technology to adapt to their needs, and not the other way around. So the most desirable situation is for cloud services to be intuitive, userfriendly and in keeping with the business objectives and industry needs of clients.

Overcoming a number of concerns pertaining to information security, data integrity, speed, efficiency and service availability Designing business models that are more dexterous and agile because they can adapt their very business design on the fly and are based on services from multiple providers Designing industrial scale applications and services that are readily and securely configurable in accordance with their specific environment, needs and business goals For these reasons, the important integration and advisory roles played by some outsourcing providers is likely to continue in the near future and in all likelihood usher in a totally new era of outsourcing. Furthermore, we may even see strong collaboration between service providers and clients aimed at innovation. In the conventional model, the main aim of integration services is to ensure that multiple vendors work together to manage basic services in a common and consistent way. In the cloud computing environment, integration is about ensuring data consistency across multiple services, a task that calls for an understanding of the end-to-end business process at a company. These aspects will become the focus and point of differentiation for cloud providers in the future.

Cloud to Serve an Entire Industry


Cloud computing has the potential of giving a comprehensive view of the disparate segments of an industry and increasing the scope of business-to-business initiatives. You may recall that in the 1980s when Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) allowed inter-dependent segments of an industry to share data, very complex supply chains could be managed. In the travel industry, airlines, car rental companies and hotels could share information to provide travelers an integrated travel experience. However, since the business logic was hardwired among systems, information sharing was limited only to a small number of business partners. As the practice of cloud computing matures, the data and process divide between and among companies is likely to narrowdevelopment that will transform the IT landscape in fundamental ways. That is because the moment a companys IT systems migrate outside the firewall, they can communicate and exchange information freely with other IT systems to execute business processes across company borders. Thanks to integration standards such as web services and serviceoriented architecture, cloud computing can facilitate the on-demand configuration and re-configuration of interenterprise business processes at an industrial scale.

In other words, cloud computing makes it very easy for companies to configure business processes that integrate internal components and many external components into complex yet fluid processes around their business needs. Today, many industries are fragmented and too small in size to invest in sophisticated business applications and IT capabilities. For instance, the construction industry comprises architects, builders, workers, material suppliers, construction equipment makers, warehouses, operators, building inspectors and many other entities. These segments are presently underserved by the IT service providers, given that data centers and applications support the needs of (mostly large) companies from within the confines of their respective firewallendoskeleton model of ITinstead of providing the same support from outside the firewallexoskeleton model of ITthe modus operandi of cloud computing. Since cloud providers can meet the requirements of small as well as large enterprise clients, they can serve the needs of an entire ecosystem by consolidating the process and data flows of the segments that compose an industry.

In the not too distant future, cloud computing is likely to solidify and expand the reach of business process utilities companies that provide simple, common and repetitive business processes such as sales tax calculation, collection and remission on a massive scale. Today, a few such examples exist. VeriSign provides creditcard authorization to millions of e-commerce vendors, and PayPal provides payment options to small vendors for small transactions. In the very near future, we are likely to see the rise of hundreds of such utilities specializing by industry and geography. This, in turn, will make enterprise systems simpler by avoiding the replication and maintenance of common business processes.

In the Coming Years


The bigger and more impactful cloud computing stories will be less about low IT overhead, ondemand pricing, cost reduction, flexibility, scalability, speed-tomarket and high performance computing accruing to specific companies or segments of an industry. They will, in fact, be more about how cloud computing is helping an entire industry to: Transform the way it does business Operate at a much higher level of efficiency and profitability Invest savings in strategic programs Expand its reach across geographies Increase the range of offerings

With these developments, we are likely to see the emergence of new integrated industry business models that call for greater internal and external collaboration among companies at various levels within an industry. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the future of cloud computing is anything but cloudy. In fact, when the momentum picks up on an industrial scale, it is likely to rain cats and dogs!

Here is how we help clients


IT Strategy
We identify a clear cloud roadmap and prioritize significant opportunities across infrastructure, applications and business processes. This pragmatic approach ensures alignment with the business objectives of our clients and helps develop new areas of business.

Implementation and Management We draw on our experiences in migrating and managing complex environments as well as on our deep understanding of governance models when providing services in both conventional and cloud based business models Industrialized Delivery For more than a decade, we have developed our capabilities and cloud factories around an ecosystem of cloud leaders such as Salesforce.com, Microsoft Azure, Google, Amazon, vCloud and Workday, which makes us a reliable partner in the eyes of our clients

Accenture Cloud Computing Center of Excellence


Accenture has a Cloud Computing Center of Excellence in Bangalore, India that serves clients around the world. The Center provides scalable and end-to-end cloud services in key areas including IT strategy, public and private cloud infrastructure, application build and migration into cloud, and cloud security. The Center has seasoned experts who are highly knowledgeable about cloud technologies and have implemented complex cloud projects.

Infrastructure cloud: build, integrate and manage


Our cloud experts help clients build agile, scalable and dynamic services from their current legacy environments, integrate them seamlessly into public clouds and manage the integrated environment.

Cloud security
As organizations move their applications and infrastructure into the cloud, our team of security experts help clients thoroughly re-evaluate their existing security delivery models, architectures and processes to ensure that we not only help them meet their cloud adoption objectives but also safeguard their cloud infrastructure, applications and data.

Cloud application and SaaS solutions factory


We provide support to clients who want to build their own applications, implement prepackaged software services or re-platform legacy applications onto cloud-based platforms by leveraging our expertise in Proprietary Methodologies We use proven roadmaps, Q-Cloud methodologies, Accenture Cloud Accelerator, Accenture SaaS Business Solutions suite and implementation frameworks, all of which help clients minimize risk and optimize cost

Research and innovation


Our vision is to innovate and develop services that have a positive impact on the bottom line of a company in the longterm. Our cloud services allow clients to reach markets that were previously unapproachable due to high cost and capital investment or other restrictions and to reshape industries by utilizing innovative distribution channels, stronger analytics and altered competitive landscapes. Accenture's Cloud Program has been working with industry experts to develop industryspecific point of view (PoV) papers for the opportunities that cloud computing will generate in the coming years. These PoVs are bound to generate interest and excitement among clients as they will help them meet specific needs of their respective industries.

About Accenture Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, with approximately 236,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries. Combining unparalleled experience, comprehensive capabilities across all industries and business functions, and extensive research on the worlds most successful companies, Accenture collaborates with clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments. The company generated net revenues of US$25.5 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2011. Its home page is www.accenture.com

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