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Does Cloud Computing Provide a Good Foundation for Agility?

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As David Linthicum brings up in the blog, The Cloud, Agility, and Reuse Part 1, and which leads me to ask: Does Cloud Computing provide a good foundation for agility?

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  • Foundation - Yes... I am even willing to go as far as "first floor - lobby level" :)

    Three (of many) examples of cloud-driven agility:

    1. A number of startups and small businesses run solely on cloud infrastructure maintaining no IT presence of their own.

    2. Clouds provide an excellent low cost DR capability.

    3. Clouds provide an excellent platform for dev-and-test, collaboration, and innovation.

  • From the business-perspective, how could computing, of whatever kind, ever enable agility, given computing is a variant of automation, which has standardization as pre-requisite, which - in turn - requires repetition of ever the same kind of procedure to be useful?

    Loss of agility, due to adoption of computing technology by the enterprise, may sometimes be mitigated by properly changing automation patterns, but the driving force enabling the corresponding amelioration is located in the heads of software engineers, not communication-technology people

    Thus, it seems: In the IT-context, a good foundation for agility might well be a fairly reluctant decision making on automation projects. Inexpensive availability of required manpower and infrastructure should be lower-ranking.

  • The potential for agility is there but, like SOA, it all hinges on execution. Cloud computing done well simplifies and streamlines IT, allowing it to be more lean, nimble, and responsive. Cloud computing done poorly increases complexity and risk, potentially rendering IT more sluggish than before.

    Given the conceptual similarities between SOA and cloud computing, I believe more companies will fail than succeed initially. Those cases will get press and drive a wave of disillusionment. (This has already begun, by the way.) In the background, though, smart companies will succeed and evolve to more dominant positions in their markets. As Tarak alluded, SMBs will have the advantage since they have less baggage to convert.

  • Cloud computing brings the abstraction of technical IT considerations to a new level. Similar abstraction (of technology) is already reputed for its agility effects, as we have witnessed in software systems and middleware (for example metadata driven systems). Coupled with the additional abstraction brought by the Cloud, we’re certainly in for more agility than we have ever known before.

  • In many ways, Cloud Computing enables SOA implementation at the Enterprise level which otherwise appear to have little chance of success. And SOA delivers modularisation, technology and location transparency, easy integration... all of which facilitating Enterprise agility.
    The Cloud enforces agility even more by introducing a "lease" rather than "own" IT business model that renders "try before you buy", deploy, operate and eventually change services and suppliers easier, faster and cheaper. One does not have to wait for depreciation of an asset to update the Enterprise operation.
    Important though is to keep the Enterprise big picture (EA) in mind white transiting to Cloud.
    Here is an article about the Cloud Enterprise enabled eventually by SOA: http://www.bptrends.com/publicationfiles/TWO_04-09-ART-The_Cloud_Enterprise-Grigoriu_v1-final.pdf

  • Cloud Computing is a too general term, as far as Agility is concerned. The answer could be yes or no depending upon the type of Cloud Computing services and upon the actual implementation.
    As far as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is Concerned it does provide a basis for Agility, because it is easy to Scale up and Scale down and it is easy to change the number of instances. However, the answer is less obvious as far as SaaS is concerned. On hand SaaS services are changed more often than traditional applications, but on the other hand, There is a trade off between Multi-Tenancy and Flexibility. As Flexibility is one of the most significant attributes of Agility, SaaS could also be a barrier to Agility.

  • If agility means time-to-market, support for changing business needs, elasticity of infrastructure and application and ease of procurement then clearly cloud computing provides a good foundation for agility. Virtualization from an infrastructure perspective and SOA from an application/architecture point of view are two such technologies that enable agility. Cloud Computing encapsulate both of these technologies thereby providing a solid foundation.

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