Dominant Power: Why The Cloud Tsunami Changes Everything?
London, UK - 5th January 2010, 14:30 GMT
Dear ATCA Open & Philanthropia Friends
[Please note that the views presented by individual contributors are not necessarily representative of the views of ATCA, which is neutral. ATCA conducts collective Socratic dialogue on global opportunities and threats.]
Where once fire, brute force, mechanised violence and then wealth through industry and trading were dominant forms of power in the world, information manifest as digital capital is now becoming the dominant power in the 21st century. Those nations and organisations with the greatest freedom of information and means of transmitting it have now become the most powerful, influential and the strongest economically. The collapse of the Soviet Union came about primarily due to its authoritarian control and limiting the freedom-of-information to its citizens and interlocutors. The same may happen to nations like China and those organisations that continue to curtail access to information to their citizens and stakeholders.
The Cloud Tsunami
2010 starts the year with the information technology that powers our daily lives in a state of extreme flux. Moore's Law used to be the guiding principle to know what to expect from the next great wave based on faster and cheaper computing power every 18 months. However, the Cloud Tsunami is creating an unprecedented paradigm shift via the new Software-as-a-Service -- SaaS -- revolution that can rapidly scale up and scale down enterprise power like "Transformers" to make players extremely agile, very large or very small, highly cost efficient and with near zero response time. This is metamorphosing Moore's Law into turbo acceleration mode! Those who embrace the Cloud Tsunami correctly are thriving via this new opportunity, and those who embrace it incorrectly or don't embrace it at all, are weakening significantly only to perish over time. It is as simple as that!
Remember: in corporations, non-governmental organisations and government agencies, there may not just be legacy systems, but legacy people too with mind-sets from the previous century, or the century before that! Given their natural vested interests, resistance to change, and with that the rampant affliction of the "not invented here" syndrome, it is more likely that new players capitalise on the Cloud Tsunami to undermine completely "The Emperor with no Clothes" in a matter of months. Expect major players to be created from nothing in less than a year, and some established players to perish overnight. Self-assembling, trans-national, intelligently searchable, self-propagating and extremely dynamic community structures are unfolding before our eyes.
In plain English, socially responsible and forward-thinking organisations including companies can be set up quickly and cheaply -- and these players have indefinite potential for earnings and localised, targeted, economic development in new areas and sectors, hitherto un-envisaged. The Cloud Tsunami can be compared to the effect of a large sharp blade that cuts both ways: it delivers competitive advantage yet it mercilessly levels the playing field rendering established brands with size and history obsolete in many cases.
What is the Cloud Tsunami's result in a nutshell? It changes everything via faster innovations and rapid transitions: either a win-win or wipe-out! This in turn puts enormous pressure on leaders and their cabinets on the one hand, and chief executives and their boards on the other, because the old fashioned decision making lenses from the last few years have to be thrown out yet again! Further to your excellent feedback in regard to the "Cloud Tsunami" ATCA Briefings so far:
4. 2010's Key Evolution: The Next Generation Web;
3. Innovation, Anthropology and Cultural Relativity;
2. Digital Capital and Cloud Computing's Asymmetric Risks; and
1. Why There is Hope: Chrysalis to Butterfly
It is worth noting the following Cloud Tsunami observations before taking any major decisions in 2010:
All Digital World
Today almost all human generated content originates and remains in digital form as invaluable Digital Capital. Even physical objects we buy, touch, use and keep, are mostly mass produced replicas of digital blue-prints. The past ideas about content creation, control, ownership rights, patents, syndication, distribution, publishing, and access all need massive re-thinking in the wake of the Cloud Tsunami! Such a reorientation in strategy must be customised swiftly, whilst cruising at full speed, to retain the fast eroding competitive advantage as our society goes "All Digital" with a massive yet silent bang!
Increasingly our Digital Capital is managed on Cloud-powered Software-as-a-Service -- SaaS -- platforms. Google, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr etc are all using some type of public or private Cloud to power the applications we utilise every day. These services have become part of our daily lifestyle, and increasingly part of our own or our stakeholders' livelihood!
Small is Beautiful
With Cloud Computing it is now possible for a small, capital efficient start-up to solve a big problem for a big audience. Here lies the threat for large incumbents unless they redistribute themselves as small, highly competitive, autonomous clusters, with diffuse power. This means more solutions to choose from, but with choice comes the desire to make the optimum decisions within the moment. The key question is how to do this accurately and wisely? The answer lies in the following eight-fold path:
i. Dismantling vertical hierarchies and vertical integration solutions step-by-step;
ii. Not going for a flat hierarchy but autonomous clusters of hierarchies;
iii. Choosing virtual over physical solutions;
iv. Choosing pay-as-you-go over ownership solutions;
v. Establishing a synchronised yet distributed command and control structure that appears totally diffuse from the outside;
vi. Working with the competition and in partnership with smaller players as equals;
vii. Having Cloud-enabled infrastructure to service all stakeholders efficiently as well as to keep in touch with all contacts 24/7; and
viii. Being able to access the digital capital and work environment from anywhere in the world with total flexibility and security.
No question about it: Clouds are creating global co-operation systems with collaborative processes. Anyone can tap into A given Cloud, but there is no such thing as The Cloud, yet! In an ideal Cloud architecture, the technical functionalities -- processing, storage and transmission -- need to be implemented on top of a more human orientated infrastructure. This focuses on human identity management, technical support for trust in human statements, and non-repudiated settlement of human transactions and exchange-of-ideas, with total confidentiality, integrity and authentication. There is a need for a solid base of trust between the people that are supposed to share their resources in order to get their computational, storage and data exchange needs satisfied.
Twelve Guiding Principles for Critical Cloud Computing Decisions
I. Deploying Cloud Computing in an organisation needs to be evaluated from multiple standpoints beginning with the unique and perspectives of key stakeholders;
II. There are many advantages and disadvantages to Cloud Computing and it is important to evaluate all the alternatives carefully;
III. Getting past the Cloud Computing initial pitch is essential to examine the real benefits and burdens, and how they apply practically to present and future needs;
IV. The individual user of Clouds has to determine what design suits their needs best for a specific application, ie, self-assembling bottom-up design and not centrally imposed top-down design;
V. Whenever possible open data formats and standards need to be chosen for Cloud Computing so that data is portable and "future" proof;
VI. It should be possible to take data away from a Cloud if one wishes to change providers;
VII. Multiple Backups for Clouds - at least one primary and one secondary are necessary. Look for SaaS offerings that can store data in multiple Clouds, where each environment is reliable enough, but gets extra protection with more than two separate systems;
VIII. Choose Cloud services that live by the theme: It is your data and we are trusted caretakers
IX. Look for strong encryption, when using the Cloud to store data. Privacy protection depends on encryption. This means the underlying Cloud storage provider cannot see the contents of private Digital Capital including intellectual property, emails, files, photos, audio and video tracks etc. because all data is encrypted to the Cloud provider;
X. The Cloud can only be secured by the architect of a specific Cloud, and many different security architectures have been presented by various architects;
XI. When Cloud Computing use is incorrect, this can swiftly damage or destroy an organisation or hold it to ransom; and
XII. Cloud Computing, when used correctly, offers much better return on investment in many mission critical scenarios where Digital Capital needs to be managed securely, reliably and cost effectively.
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