The Cloud Effect – Enterprises Adopting Internet Strategies

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1 – The Changing Nature Of Enterprise IT

1.1 – Tear Down This Wall

The last time a major wall came down, it was Berlin in 1989; the wall was known simply as the ‘Berlin Wall’; and it had divided a country, its resident families, and friends for over 28 years. Just prior to the destruction of the wall there was euphoria all around, a whiff of freedom in the air, and a tear in just about everyone’s eye. The impact of the wall’s takedown was massive and affected over 75 million people living all over the country. The result of this historical moment was unprecedented as Germany rose from the ashes to become a major world power.

It’s been nearly 22 years since that monumental event, and now it’s time for another. This time however, the wall is the ‘enterprise firewall’, and it has separated the enterprise computing systems from the outside world of the web for far too long. This time too, in anticipation of the wall’s teardown, the atmosphere is electric, the possibilities seem endless and the potential feels completely untapped. The impact of this wall’s takedown will be humongous and will affect billions of people living all over the world. The result of this upcoming phenomenon – brace yourselves, cause we are about to find out!

1.2 – A Giant Leap For Mankind

Lately, the blogosphere has been hijacked by an era of ‘Acronym Anarchy’, and with good reason. SOA/WOA/ROA… SAAS/PAAS/IAAS… all point to but one thing – the simple fact that two great worlds – the enterprise and internet are about to collide in what shall be the biggest bang yet.

For years, the common enterprise architect had no choice but to direct his troops to live within the confines of the enterprise firewall, to build isolated information silos, and then to somehow connect them all together; while at the same time keeping costs at a minimum, performance at a maximum, and achieving ROIs set by CIOs to scarcely believable figures. Then arrived the age of architecture nomenclature which introduced the enterprise systems to whole lot of design patterns, which led to a whole lot of expenditure, without a whole lot of return. Shockingly however, this virus of architecture overexposure did not attack the thousands of web based startups springing up every year, and they seemed to do just fine without it, as rags to riches became a common Silicon Valley story. Clearly, the enterprises had a lot to learn, and now it seems like the class is finally in session.

With the advent of web 2.0, a number of highly promising new concepts, ideologies and technologies have emerged which shall forever reshape the landscape of enterprise IT, while at the same time creating a seamless world of integration between 2 widely different computing platforms. For years it was believed that the dynamic, light-weight, volatile web patterns could not possibly be applied to the rigid, heavy, rule-based enterprise systems. It was believed that the flaky web constructs could never perform the workhorse role of enterprise applications. It was believed that the implementation, sustenance and distribution mechanisms of the web had no place in an enterprise architecture governed by the iron fist of its ivory tower bound architect. However the recent success of web based SAAS/PAAS/IAAS in the world of the enterprise tells a very different story. The wise folks who overcame their fear, let down their barriers, and let in the web based services through their enterprise firewall were instantly rewarded with cost savings, state of the art functionalities and frequently updated specialized software. This may have been a small step for a high rise CIO, but it was most definitely a giant leap for mankind.

1.3 – On The Origin Of Species

The invasion of the enterprise world by the ever conquering web warlords has however set in motion a new chain of events, one whose history dates back to the origins of the world, and one whose reach far surpasses human imagination. This enigmatic natural phenomenon was first discovered by a man named ‘Charles Darwin’, and he then proceeded to enlighten the rest of mankind about its existence in his publication called ‘On the Origin of Species’, which established the theory of ‘evolutionary adaptation through natural selection’. The 2 distinguished computing worlds fighting for existence in the same space shall see certain technologies taking a ‘rudimentary form’, certain ideologies eliminated through the ‘survival of the fittest’ and certain concepts being diminished due to disuse through the ‘inheritance of acquired characteristics’. However the most exciting prospect of this invasion is the gradual change of various existing systems to adapt to their modified environments, and ultimately, accumulating over time to form a new species. It is through this factor that we shall soon find ourselves talking about the Enternet, a new breed of IT spawned through the successful evolution of the enterprise and the web through natural selection, and its stride as one combined unit out to dominate all of machine kind.

This progression however requires adaption. Thus, this junction is an important one as it splits into two roads, one leading to evolution, and the other leading to extinction. The enterprise systems would be forced to shed weight, to become more flexible, and to inherit a view of unified open standards. This journey is being refuted as impossible by many, especially given the enormous investments made by CIOs in the existing enterprise architectures, primarily SOA – which has gripped the attention of enterprise architects worldwide with its numerous long term promises. However, what shall make this job a lot easier is the fact that the SOA must not be viewed as a hindrance, but a key enabler of migration to more advanced systems, as it is widely believed that the web itself is the world’s largest SOA in existence.

Keeping the upcoming challenge in mind, the propaganda of IT architects everywhere must manifest itself into a new form when constructing a modern application and their vision of the enterprise system must be updated with a dose of reality. The internet has grown over time into the IT world’s greatest ever success story, and has done so by accumulating a set of personality traits which have helped it develop into the beast it is today. Many of the prominent internet traits can infact also be leveraged into the enterprise world to create a new breed of IT constructions which are capable of surviving in their new habitat. The enterprises have been learning from their past experiences and have been developing increasingly better systems, however, as the following comparisons of their various aspects with those of the web shall prove, the future lies in adopting many of the successful internet attributes to some degree within the enterprise systems, in order to help them keep up with the technological advancements in the ever growing IT sector.

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