Cloud computing, often referred to as simply “the cloud,” is the delivery of on-demand computing resources – everything from applications to data centers – over the Internet on a pay-for-use basis (similar to how we use electricity on a day-to-day basis). The Cloud will become so commonplace within industry and personal lives that it will become part of the pervasive computing suite, embedded in such a way that the connectivity is unobtrusive and always available. There are excellent opportunities for companies using cloud services to outsource various IT capabilities and allow them to focus on core business/innovation developments.
Undertaking a Post-Doctoral position within the Irish Centre for Cloud Computing and Commerce, I examined the business value of cloud computing from a number of perspectives. The influence of information technology (IT) continues to alter our understanding of the business environment. It continues to shift computing paradigms to afford greater accessibility to business capabilities. This is yet again evident through the emergence of Cloud Computing. Cloud Computing allows various key organisational resources to become more efficiently available, for example, software, information, storage, and business processes. Cloud Computing allows organisations to gain access to sophisticated services through Internet channels. The fund amental benefit of Cloud Computing is its ability to share resources ‘on demand’ at considerably reduced costs. This has led to the explosive uptake of Cloud Computing. According to the latest Cisco report, “Cloud is now on the IT agenda for over 90% of companies, up from just over half of companies (52%) last year” (Cisco CloudWatch Report 2012). However, availing of services through a systematic manner can become a very complex entanglement of business processes. Understanding the complexity and value of ‘the Cloud’ offers immense opportunities through service analytics (i.e. measuring performance). Thus, understanding and organising how Cloud resource are exchanged while assessing organisational ability to provide services ‘on-demand’ requires an assessment framework to assist in strategic business and IT alignment. If organisations are to enjoy the benefits of Cloud developments, it is important to stratagise how they can assess the business and technical factors to transform their Cloud capabilities. This is particularly true for the survival of Small-to-Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs). While I anticipate that Cloud Computing will revolutionise the way SMEs operate and compete on a global scale, assessing the business value of cloud computing from an SMEs perspective will be a key development.