ovumA couple of days ago I was one of the presenters at an Ovum/Butler strategy briefing at the Ambassadors Hotel in London. Smart421 were sponsoring the event and I wanted to share something real relating to cloud computing – and not just give a thinly-veiled sales pitch (not really my style – and also I’ve sat through enough of those from vendors/SIs to last me a lifetime) or explain what IaaS/PaaS/SaaS are to an audience for the millionth time.

So, after some steering from the Ovum analyst who was performing the introduction to the subject, Laurent Lachal, I settled upon the subject of what organisations need to do and consider today in their Enterprise Architecture teams in order to gear up and exploit the opportunities provided by cloud computing. It’s always better to have a map before you set off on a journey, and so I explained how we would use the Open Group’s TOGAF architecture development method (ADM) to help us navigate and address all the impacts of cloud computing in an organisation. Anyway, the presentation all went well with just the right amount of pre-match nerves to get me excited before I went on – and some good audience questions. Although my colleagues tell me that apparently I have a couple of bad habits when presenting that I need to work on :). Drop us a line if you would like a copy of the presentation.

The main observations that I wanted to share in this blog post were relating to the nature of the audience, as they provided an interesting insight into the cloud computing market itself. As this audience had been generated from a list Ovum subscribers mainly, they were quite a different mix to other cloud events I’ve been to or presented at:

  • Awareness – The level of knowledge of the subject was relatively low. You might say “that’s why they’ve come to a cloud briefing session you dummy” and that would be fair, but I am contrasting this to the knowledge levels I’ve seen at other, perhaps more techy events. My conclusion – it is very easy to get misled about how well understood the subject is by the market when you work in a “consulting bubble”. There is still a significant amount of “educating the market” to be done.
  • Strategy – When the audience were asked “who has a cloud strategy/adoption plan in place today?” that the answer was – virtually nobody out of 50+ delegates. One hand went up.
  • Execution – What was clear to me from the various vendors/presenters was that no one has really done this yet. Whilst I know that there are lots of case studies that can be trotted out etc, the reality on the ground is that outside of the true early adopters, it just has not gone “mass market” yet. SaaS adoption is the exception to this rule as this is more of an evolution of the previous ASP model, but PaaS and IaaS really have tiny market take up at present in the larger enterprises. My view is that SMEs are generally adopting quicker than larger enterprises.
  • Risk – The audience did not feel particularly risk-averse. Again, I guess they had “self-selected” to attend, but I didn’t get any of that “corporate fear” paralysis sensation about data security etc that I’ve witnessed in some enterprises. So I felt like these guys were really going to make something happen over the next year or so, which I felt was particularly encouraging for both the industry and the UK economy.

One closing comment I would make about the event is that there were some points made during the day that I knew were just plain wrong, some of which fell into the FUD category. I managed to keep my mouth shut. Amazing as it may seem, I am also wrong on occasions, so I’m not having a pop here specifically – it’s just that even in the vendor/SI space we’re all still getting to grips with a disruptive technology and there is a lot of hyperbole and urban myths to be thrashed out and dispelled yet.