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Editor's note: This two-part series is excerpted from the new book "Business in the Cloud: What Every Business Needs to Know About Cloud Computing," by long-time IT executive and agility strategist Michael Hugos. In Part I, Hugos discusses responsive business strategies, cloud-related IT issues and the environments in which cloud initiatives are most likely to succeed.

Introduction: Disruptive Change

Cloud computing is having [a disruptive] effect on vendors who sell traditional versions of computing technology and on the people who make their living operating traditional computing technology.

Companies that have large investments in traditional in-house computing technology will not abandon those investments immediately, nor should they. The transition of companies to cloud-based technology will be quicker for some and slower for others, depending on their individual circumstances. But the change will happen.

History shows that resistance to the spread of new technologies is almost always futile, and often fatal. People and companies that resist are finally forced out of business and replaced by others that do adopt new technology. Clearly the best strategy is to actively explore the opportunities for cloud computing and begin appropriate projects to gain experience in its use and to understand its strengths and weaknesses.

Agile, Responsive Business Strategies

On one hand, cloud computing can be considered primarily as a cost-saving technology that's used here and there on cost-cutting projects and for quick fixes to provide point solutions to specific operational problems. On the other, cloud computing can be understood in the context of an overall business strategy based on agility and responsiveness.

Cloud computing certainly provides cost savings in some situations, but that is not the most important benefit. The real value of cloud computing is the way in which it can be used to support an overall strategy designed to create agility for the business.

Companies that create a foundational business strategy based on agility put responsiveness before efficiency. This strategy emphasizes the ability to make continuous incremental changes and adjustments in operating procedures so the company can respond as new business conditions unfold. It also emphasizes continuous exploration of new business opportunities along with rapid growth into new markets when it is sensed that they will be profitable.


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