I recently presented to a group of enterprise IT executives on the state of the public cloud. To my surprise I met business professionals who actually thought the public cloud was not going to have a big impact on their industry. I swiped my phone for a moment to confirm the date: yes, it was still 2015. I then did my best to understand the rationale, since it had been years since I’d heard this level of resistance.
At its core were two primary explanations: 1) we could never trust a third party to provide our required availability, and 2) the public cloud is not sufficiently secure to manage our data. In their defense, several of the executives in the room were with large financial institutions (ironically two of which had major public cloud initiatives, just not ones in which these executives were aware). But the subtext beneath these explanations was a resistance to change I’d heard many times over my career: “My mother will never use the internet”; “People will never use credit cards online”; “Businesses will never rent applications over the web”; and so on.
By now everyone has read Clayton Christensen’s The Innovator's Dilemma, which discusses how value chains incent organizations and stakeholders to ignore disruptive innovation. The discussion made me realize that for some people, disruptive innovation can be like the eye of a hurricane: the clear skies and light winds can leave the impression that there is no storm - but outside the storm is raging and headed your way.
Last year Amazon Web Services produced over $5B in revenue. The global worldwide server market for the same period was just over $50B in 2014. This means a single public cloud provider produced revenue that represents more than 10% of the entire worldwide server market.
If you are one of the few still seeing clear skies and feeling light winds, prepare yourself: the storm is upon you.