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Cloud Computing Intersects IT Innovation

Five main areas of IT innovation and their relationship to cloud computing

Recently, I attended SOAWorld 2009 in New York City, and I had the pleasure of listening to many distinguished speakers talk about extremely interesting topics.  One of my favorite talks was given by a fellow IBMer, Kareem Yusuf. During the course of Kareem's keynote, he discussed SOA, cloud computing, and areas of innovation in the IT industry.

The areas of innovation were of particular interest to me, and Kareem highlighted five of them:

1. Automation and Management
2. Elastic Applications
3. Software Delivery
4. Pricing and Licensing
5. Cloud-based services

As I look at each of these areas of innovation, it is pretty clear that each have a relationship with cloud computing. For instance, automating the provisioning of IT resources and effectively managing that automation are two of the key concepts of cloud computing. No more waiting around for an "administrator" to provision extra storage, compute power, software, etc., the cloud computing solution takes care of that within the context of some management and governance.

Elastic applications are perhaps the ends to which cloud computing is the means. Cloud computing is all about providing resources to consumers in a dynamic manner. There may be no more important consumer than an application since that is typically the end-user facing component in IT systems, the revenue-driver if you will. By putting solutions in place that allow applications to grow and shrink based on demand, we deliver a more efficient, responsive experience.

The ways in which vendors deliver those elastic applications and other software is radically changing. There has been a gradual movement away from physical media like DVDs and CDs towards electronic media such that you download the software from the vendor's website. With the increasing adoption of Software as a Service, users no longer even need to worry with downloading the media. They can simply access the software running on the vendor's infrastructure via a browser or some other thin client.

The fourth of the areas of innovation is perhaps a direct consequence of cloud computing. Since cloud computing is focused on providing the right amount of resource at the right time, pricing and licensing models for IT resources (from hardware to software) are changing. Cloud computing often entails a utility-based pricing model in which users only pay for what they use. When users consume more resources from the cloud, they pay more, when users use less, they pay less. This seems like a simple enough concept, but it is radically different from how hardware and software are priced today.

Finally, the last area of innovation Kareem mentioned was cloud-based services. The tie-in to cloud computing here is obvious, but it was interesting to note the emphasis on service. Cloud computing technology is cool stuff (at least to us geeks), but at the end of the day that technology must provide a useful service. It's useful cloud-based services that will spur the adoption of cloud computing, not cool technology.

I'll be watching these areas of innovation over the coming months. In particular, I'll be curious as to how innovation in these areas is influenced by cloud computing and vice versa. You can read more about Kareem's thoughts on these areas of innovation and more by visiting his blog.

More Stories By Dustin Amrhein

Dustin Amrhein joined IBM as a member of the development team for WebSphere Application Server. While in that position, he worked on the development of Web services infrastructure and Web services programming models. In his current role, Dustin is a technical specialist for cloud, mobile, and data grid technology in IBM's WebSphere portfolio. He blogs at http://dustinamrhein.ulitzer.com. You can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/damrhein.