Right before the entire country knocked off for fireworks and barbecues this week, Google Enterprise VP Amit Singh wrote up some of his observations from meeting with CIOs across the country. And the number one takeaway from these conversations: The consumerization of IT is accelerating, and it might just be a good thing for the enterprise.
“After all, we’re the same person at home and at work, and we like having access to the same devices and tools regardless,” Singh writes in his blog entry.
Basically, Singh argues that at the same time that the IT pro’s job really began to shift from innovation to the mere maintenance and upkeep of legacy software and hardware, the movement towards mobility and the cloud began putting all sorts of bleeding-edge new tools directly into the hands of end-users.
For Google itself, this means extending its paid enterprise-level SLAs and control to its consumer offerings, rather than reinventing the wheel – consumer Gmail and Gmail for Business is pretty much the same product, plus or minus a few administrator settings. The benefit here is that the latest technologies become available with a mere browser refresh, Singh says.
The same goes for Google App Engine, Google Chrome for Business, the new Google Compute Engine, location service Google Maps Coordinate or any of the other enterprise-specific offerings in Google’s portfolio. By contrast, legacy vendors are offering newer, slightly shinier versions of the same things they have for a decade, and don’t have the consumption models (bring-your-own-device, for example) that modern users expect in mind.
“With the explosion of computing devices, ubiquitous high-speed internet, and mobile workforces, there’s a fundamental shift happening in business. The question is: do you want to cross a bridge to continue working in the past…or move to the cloud so you can live and work seamlessly in the future?” finishes Singh’s argument.
ServicesAngle has talked a lot about the potential for the cloud to completely reorient the CIO’s duties around innovation and providing real business value rather than mere utility. The cloud, in theory, enables all kinds of new services and a kind of business agility that simply weren’t possible or affordable under the legacy models.
Singh’s argument actually has me thinking about BYOD in general and the Nexus 7 tablet in general. The Nexus 7 has the same usage profile as the Amazon Kindle Fire, which is to say that it’s designed with media consumption in mind, not business. But given that it runs unfettered, unrestricted Google Android as its operating system (unlike the Kindle Fire), that means that it can be extended to enterprise domain control. Again in theory, it’s the best of both worlds, and given that the Nexus 7 is the result Google’s highest level of involvement in tablet design and production yet, well – I don’t want to give Google too much credit, but it’s hard not to see that approach in action, if it was a conscious choice.
Of course, the opposing view to Singh’s position is simply that cloud services aren’t reliable or robust enough to handle the needs of the enterprise, a view which was only exacerbated by the recent Amazon Web Services outage. All the same, cloud vendors are seeing significant uptake, and they’re working hard at improving their offerings.