In Part I of our series on developing Cloud Sense for the enterprise, we introduced a practice-based framework to guide successful application of the Cloud to business. The Cloud Sense Framework outlines ten critical areas companies need to master as the Cloud industry evolves. In Part II we will focus on Level 1 of the framework, the Cloud Capability Frontier.
The Cloud Capability Frontier describes the rapidly growing collection of business and technological Cloud capabilities and services offered over the Cloud. The frontier expresses the state-of-the-art offered by industry participants and peers at any given point in time.
Leading companies must keep a close watch on the competitive environment because new Cloud innovations, capabilities and providers are emerging all the time. Advancements in the Cloud Capability Frontier can quickly level the playing field and eliminate previous competitive advantages. Therefore, familiarity with the latest state of the Cloud Capability Frontier is a must.
Evolution of the Cloud Capability Frontier
The evolution of the Cloud Capability Frontier is built on a 40-year history of innovation in computer science and information technology. As seen in the chart, many advancements contributed to the development of the Cloud we know today, and the Cloud will continue to morph and advance over time.
By 2006, the basic technologies were in place for Cloud computing. But 2008 was a definitive milestone: new providers began to offer distinctive business capabilities to companies on demand. It transformed the Cloud from a technological toolbox to a business toolbox. Soon the Cloud offered specialized databases, access to specialized talent, specific business functionality, and an expanding set of business applications.
The Current Cloud Capability Frontier
Five types of providers currently characterize the Cloud Capability Frontier. These providers include deep technical domains that support a vast range of hardware and software services, and business domains, and advisors that provide capabilities for specific industry verticals (e.g. automotive, healthcare, financial) or business functions(e.g. cash management, supply chain, merchandise, order management, industrial sensors). The five types of providers are:
- Cloud Capacity Providers – these companies make the technical side of the Cloud work. They develop, offer and distribute basic building blocks and resources to enable companies to work in the Cloud and integrate existing technical capabilities with Cloud capabilities, including hardware, networks, data centers, monitoring and management tools, security and privacy tools, and other technical capabilities for the Cloud.
- Developer Ecosystems – developer ecosystems exist for every basic software technology and represent the technical talent for writing code, developing tools, assembling software components into platforms, and creating a range of universal connectors that interconnect diverse machinery and systems.
- Consultants and Advisors – individuals and firms that provide strategic, design, development, project management, and operational talent to apply Cloud capabilities to specific business problems and needs.
- Cloud Software Vendors – develop and sell apps, integrated applications, and other horizontal or vertical software solutions using Cloud architectures and capabilities. Many leading Cloud software vendors also develop and sell non-Cloud based applications.
- Business Capability Providers – a growing group of companies that focus on providing a rapidly expanding collection of business capabilities via standards propagated by the Cloud that can be provisioned on demand. For example, GE, Accenture and Amazon recently formed a strategic global alliance, called Predictivity, to help companies collect, analyze, and disseminate massive data sets.
The Cloud Capability Frontier has been evolving from simple Cloud capacity to a greater emphasis on delivering business building blocks or Cloud capabilities that enhance business results. (see Joseph King’s blog post: Shifting Clouds: Capacity to Capability).
In Part III of our series on Cloud Sense, launching December 16, we look at the darker side of the Cloud Capability Frontier.