From Both Sides Now- Are these Clouds’ Illusions? – continued

In my last post I was making the point that BusinessIQ is a cloud computing application but acknowledged that I’d have to lead into that claim with more explanation of the topic.  So here goes:

My computer is way dumber now than it used to be.  Despite discreet motherboard replacement surgery, memory supplements,  expanding storage and suffering through increasing license cost of the software I do run, my machine does far less processing now than it did ten, five or even two years ago.  And don’t think that newer mobile devices have a huge advantage- most of their power is devoted to the user interface.  Just as Woody would accuse Buzz in Toy Story 2 “That’s not flying Buzz, that’s falling… with style”,  the all-show-and-no-go display and rendering theatrics exhibited by our newest devices, though mesmerizing, aren’t computational heavyweights.  The browser software, Internet Explorer, Foxfire, Chrome, etc., is doing the work along with selected plug-in software I download for free.  Much of the intelligence resides now on the grid, in the cloud.  In the same turnabout fashion, the web that I use to pooh-pooh for all its catalog-ware and clubby message boards is now sporting some serious computational cred.   

As a fairly superstitious person, I have a great respect for providence, coincidence and the serendipitous occurrence, which is why I fell so hard on the story of the underpinnings of the Internet and WWW depending on an accidental benefit of the dot-com boom.    

In the late 1990’s during the dot-com investment boom, phone and cable companies, thinking that the world had seen the last of brick-and-mortar enterprises and would soon speed solely along digital superhighways, plowed serious cash into replacing dated copper wire with optical fiber.  These hair-thin strands of glass can move payload at the speed of light, allowing nearly unlimited quantities of data to travel long distances at a clip that keeps pace with the computer’s processor.  Voila! Computing could be centralized away from an individual’s desktop and delivered on demand without any loss of performance.  Now the Internet could link millions of computers and serve as one giant computer, the virtual world swaddling the physical world like a friendly fog- a cloud.  Applications that use to have to run locally either because they’re power hogs or because they need to schlep lots of data across the network could now stay put on their home servers and focus on evolving more cool features and functions.  Welcome Cloud Computing.  

Proving that the Cloud exists is the first part of the argument.  So what makes BusinessIQ part of the pantheon of cloud applications?  These defining characteristics of a cloud computing application are true for BusinessIQ:

1.       BusinessIQ is delivered as a service using the Internet

Experian, as a cloud provider, owns a dedicated on-ramp to the digital superhighway and BusinessIQ platform runs on servers in the Experian Global Operations Center in Texas.  As a BusinessIQ  customer, you don’t need to be concerned about these implementation details because you are accessing the application when you need it through your browser in the same way that you plug an appliance into an electrical outlet and begin drying your hair without really knowing or caring about where that current was produced or how it came to be exiting through the socket in your bathroom. 

2.      BusinessIQ   serves the needs of multiple businesses in a shared delivery model that tracks usage

In the same model as a public utility, where you are sharing the electric current with other customers, BusinessIQ is a shared service providing commercial credit management capabilities to our customers in a “multi-tenant” delivery model. 

The increasingly popular “industrialization of IT” has followed a similar route as other general purpose technologies in that they are now offered as a contractual service that your business can subscribe to instead of having to invest in acquiring the resources and building out the capability on your own- a costly and risky proposition.  Your buying decision and the risk associated, shifts from buying products (hardware components, software licenses, IT labor) to paying Experian to deliver these functions in some form of fee-for-use scenario. 

3.      BusinessIQ   is scalable and elastic, meeting your business needs  now and in the future

BusinessIQ  was purpose-built to grow and scale; i.e., it will support the large and complex needs of credit management professionals reliably and accurately, whatever the size of your portfolio or demand for credit information.   What’s more, though responding to business fluctuations can be burdensome, especially for internal support systems that may need to change rapidly (by providing more resources or fewer) BusinessIQ  is “elastic”, automatically responding to a changing environment.

With the indisputable proof of BusinessIQ’s cloud-ness lending clarity to the membership requirements in the cloud club, it would appear that we’ve been using Internet-based services on the home front for quite awhile now:  Internet search engines, email, photo editing, social networking, video streaming and more.  Is there still residual doubt about what is inherently virtuous about plugging into a utility for your business processing needs versus buying shrink-wrapped software off-the-shelf?  Beyond the access to the advanced capabilities of the software itself, does the delivery method or the classification of BusinessIQ as cloud-based offer any benefit?    

The answer in most cases is a definitive “yes”, there are clear advantages to acquiring a utility service-but it isn’t an open and shut case.  Benefits abound in the way of lower costs and greater flexibility but there are risks to consider with a shared service.  I’ll be back again soon to dive into the details of benefits and risks of cloud computing in my next post.