Cloud Insights from expert Simon Draper and on it’s future growth

Tell us about your involvement with Cloud?
My first cloud business was called XOffice back in 2006, we built an open source email to mobile, with calendar and contracts syncing service for business – basically google apps or Office 365, in the cloud. Regrettably, as with most early stage ventures, the market place was not ready for us. And back in 2006 the routes to market we’re dominated by the partner services channel, with Exchange on premise being the natural fit for SMB’s, and the services that came along with the install of each Exchange would net the reseller partner around £10k revenue, and we we’re asking them to swap this out to a solution sold on a monthly model for £10 per user per month. This compounded by the 2006 average bandwidth of 512k download, so the business environment was less than ideal.


How do you feel Cloud has grown since you first started working with Cloud?
In real terms the cloud has not changed in terms of what’s delivered, but how it’s delivered, moving from cloud models such as IaaS, PaaS, public, private, and hybrid cloud to concerns such as control and performance, productivity and time to market, security and compliance. The models the user consumption and acceptance has grown dramatically, with the likes of MS, Oracle, and Apple delivering significant consumer focused applications which have helped raise the profile of cloud and accelerate adoption across all market segments increasing demand for new cloud services.

How has adopting the Cloud changed with private, public organisations?
In real terms cloud has been around for a long time within corporate businesses, they we’re just called datacentres, which were used to run LOB applications.
With changing these applications to public cloud environment, it’s allowed business to not so reliant on VPN services, so employees are freeing up there working environment to not be tethered to the office giving greater flexibility and work life balance for individuals. Where Blackberries, tended only to disturb the balance, cloud having de-centralised work spaces to allow more people to work from home as given some of the time back to workers.


What are your views on G-Cloud?
G-Cloud is a just a buying frame work which is essentially more red tape to ‘deal’ with the public and government sectors, which owing to the intrinsic difficulty with trading with this space don’t get much focus from me, as there are around 5.2 million business that are rather easier to target as the efforts required is less, and the size of the organisations like G-Cloud are very resource intensive compared to working with small and medium businesses.


Do you feel that how businesses perceive Cloud is different to when you first worked with Cloud?
As with all new systems where the benefits outweigh the drawbacks, businesses have embraced the benefits that cloud brings, and tended to not be overly concerned with some of issues, such as the security risks of unwanted data leakage.


What is the potential for growth of Cloud and where do you see it in 5 years’ time?
Immense. The revolution is just beginning, as software development moves from locally installed applications towards “webware” running from browsers. We can already see we have arrived at Cloud 2.0 and multi-tenancy architectures underlying a PaaS. Multi-tenancy is not a geeky term for software optimisation. It’s a business term that captures the essence of delivering a service, not software per se. It also captures the need to focus on building re-usable business logic and delivering cost-effective economies of scale to create a successful service. Because this is what, in essence, the cloud does best. It commoditises building optimal economies of scale. Hosting a SaaS offering on-premise has its own problems, especially around how to optimise investment in new clouds apps and SaaS offerings. By definition, this dilutes ISV investment to core competencies but still makes investment in operational services pale into insignificance when compared with the industry average and what large vendors can offer for the same money. It can be a no win-situation.
Even if the money is available to go ground-up, Cloud 1.0-style, the prebuilt business logic of a PaaS takes away the peripheral concerns and allows ISVs to focus on their core competency and differentiators – not re-inventing core software infrastructure over and over again. This is a battle not yet fully won with all CTOs within traditional ISVs coming from a packaged software and ground-up software development background.