The fundamental challenges associated with moving to a new cloud business model dominated the morning keynotes at the UBM Tech Cloud Connect conference, which is under way this week in Santa Clara, Calif.
"Nature abhors a vacuum, and organizations abhor change," said Alistair Croll, vice president of Cloud Ops Research. "Cloud computing is about converting an organization into an organism, in which the component parts are acting in the service of a greater whole."
A variety of speakers described their vision for where cloud computing will lead the industry, and also business-as-a-whole.
"The Internet will soon begin to transform industrial functions as machines become intelligent and connected," predicted Bill Ruh, Global Technology Director at General Electric. "This will continue to evolve as long as we can demonstrate a resulting increase in productivity.
Ruh said that in preparation for the onslaught of smart devices, General Electric is investing heavily in the development of sensors that can extract data from a wide variety of devices in order to enhance optimization and profitability.
"Keep in mind that in any industry, there are 10 to 20 levers that can transform the entire industry if you can improve margins by five points," he said.
Meanwhile, Lew Tucker, CTO of Cloud Computing at Cisco, predicted a growing population of 50 billion connected devices by 2020. "We will become increasingly focused on smart grids, smart buildings and smart factories in which large volumes of data will be used to optimize a variety of different functions, including just-in-time manufacturing," he said. The likely outcomes will include disruption, opportunity and economic growth."
NEXT: Deciding How To DecideAnother keynote speaker, Mitel CTO Jim Davies, noted the importance of establishing a somewhat formalized framework for cloud decision-making.
He recommended that business executives start by asking, "Does the app meet my business requirements? There is no graceful way out, if you get this one wrong, so consider it carefully," he urged. "Next decide how you want to deploy the application. You might opt for an appliance, or the public cloud, a private cloud, or a hybrid cloud. The good news is that this decision can be revisited multiple times in the future, if desired.
"Next, decide how you want to pay for it," he continued. "This can be through a capital purchase, or through Opex. You can buy the average and rent the peak, or you can opt for pay-for-use. Consider application lifespan and variability in demand when making this decision."
On the cloud security front, Michael Barrett, the chief information security officer of PayPal, told the gathering that passwords, as we know them, have outlived their usefulness. He put up a slide depicting a gravestone that set the lifespan from 1961, with the beginning of time sharing on mainframes, and ending in 2013.
"Passwords are difficult for users who need an ever-growing number of them, difficult to secure, and impossible to scale," he said. "The cloud has removed the effectiveness of hashes in securing passwords. They are becoming much less difficult to crack, and it can be done by 'script kiddies,'" referring to inexperienced hackers who often use widely available hacking kits to supplement their own limited knowledge.
"Authentication needs to be easier and more secure," he continued. "One option is to authenticate the device and then let the device authenticate to the specific services. Another option is to use biometrics, such as fingerprints, as a means of establishing authentication. But, however this is accomplished, better authentication will enhance cloud adoption."
Security has frequently been identified as one of the main inhibitors of cloud adoption.
PUBLISHED APRIL 3, 2013