Simon is active in our Windows Azure incubation team working with customers who are interested in getting value from the Windows Azure Platform. Hence I was keen to share some of his high level thoughts on where the opportunities lie.

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Business Opportunities for Public Cloud

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by Simon Thurman, Microsoft UK

I categorise business opportunities into 3 areas: Demand, Automation and Economic. When thinking about demand you don’t really need to determine too accurately the number of users of your application, or where those users will be geographically. Automation is about being able to react quickly to a market opportunity. Economics is primarily concerned with business models.

Under the high level categories are attributes that further define the area. In other words, if your business requirements demonstrate any of these attributes it may well be worth considering the cloud.

Demand

  • Global Presence
    • When you deploy and provision your application to the cloud it inherently is available to all. It is also hosted on a platform with Internet scale capabilities.
  • Elasticity/Agility
    • This is best described in terms of workload patterns: “On and Off”, “Growing Fast”, “Unpredictable Bursting”, and “Predictable Bursting”.
    • The summary for all workloads is really provision of the resource when you need it and release it when you do not.
  • Metering of Usage
    • An accurate account of usage can prove useful to the business.

Automation

  • Provisioning
    • The ability to be able to provision and remove resource quickly.
  • Upgrades
    • The platform is maintained for you.
  • Failure Recovery
    • Platform failures are fixed and recovered for you.
  • Simple Process
    • It’s simple to request or release the resource. This can eliminate the need to go through lengthy procurement processes and provisioning processes.

Economic

  • Avoidance of cost
    • Most conversations lead with reducing the cost when moving to the cloud. This may or may not be the case. However, not having to pay a lump sum to purchase infrastructure may be beneficial to the business.
  • Business Model/Revenue Streams
    • If your company likes to recoup cost for delivering products and services as quickly as possible. The removal of a potentially large up front infrastructure cost may mean that you can consider new business models. For example a subscription model.
  • Mediated Bill
    • Having an accurate cost for resource can help to determine ROI and the value of IT.

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