What is the cloud? There are many different (but also similar) answers to this question. Some view the cloud as a gateway to providing online access, while others view it as a relatively narrow supply of remote servers. Technical definitions consider any network managed by a third party to be the cloud, and others consider it a location where data and applications are located and accessed. All of these are technically correct – at least partially. However, each of these views taken in isolation or even combined does not quite do justice to the essence of what the cloud has become and will continue to be.
The cloud is much more than a remotely accessible location of remote servers, applications and data on a network and systems managed by third parties. Gartner provides this definition that encompasses the essence of the cloud:
“Cloud computing is a style of computing in which scalable and elastic computing capabilities are delivered as a service using Internet technologies.”
The term “computing style” is particularly revealing. Style refers to a way of doing or forming something or a way in which that thing appears. It therefore follows that the cloud as a “style of computing” is a form, a way and an appearance of computing. To be its own style, the shape, path, and look of the cloud must be different from the styles of computing that came before it. Therefore, when thinking about the cloud and cloud computing more generally, the definition and meaning has come to include digital transformation. Cloud computing has fundamentally transformed the way companies do business, moving from previous computing styles to the computing style made possible by the cloud.
Just as the cloud is more than the location of resources on third-party systems and networks, digital transformation is more than just moving those resources from on-premises locations to those third-party systems and networks. The process of offering products and services on the cloud is a paradigm shift that must meet the needs, organization and culture of the company. This comes with many benefits: modernizing aging infrastructure, reducing the need for manual processes, responding faster to customer requests, automating workflows for services, accelerating deployment of new services for customers, and engaging across multiple channels: any device, anywhere, in real time or on demand. However, these benefits are not achieved simply by moving to the cloud or moving existing resources to the cloud. Changing between styles of computing requires not only a change in technologies, but also changes in business strategy and operations.
By embracing cloud computing style, enterprises can deliver scalable, resilient, and elastic services to their customers on a scalable modern architecture that meets expected real-world demands and expectations. To transition to this new style of IT, the business will need to adapt its processes, people, and technologies to meet the challenges of such a paradigm shift and plan for the desired business outcomes.