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Why Apple’s iCloud Matters to Enterprise IT

The more you know about iCloud, the better positioned you will be to address the expectations of your end users

There has been a great deal of press surrounding Apple's launch of iCloud and the impact of this new service on consumer markets. Very little attention, however, has been given to the impact that this new cloud computing service will have on enterprise IT. If recent history is any indication, this is a big mistake. The consumerization of IT over the last decade has demonstrated that consumer trends establish end-user expectations around IT service delivery, and given the rapid pace of cloud computing technology innovation the window between consumer trends and IT expectations is growing narrower every day. If this isn't enough to convince you, then consider this - Apple's iCloud represents the first real and significant challenge to Google's network-centric cloud computing model. The winner of this titanic struggle will shape consumer, and hence end user, attitudes for years to come. By extension, the winner will also shape enterprise computing strategies and investments. So the more you know about iCloud, the better positioned you will be to address the expectations of your end users in the years to come.

Let's begin with some background. iCloud is a cloud computing service that enhances the experience of iTunes and other iPhone/iPad applications by providing a mechanism for storing and streaming content over the Web to any enabled device that you own. Applications like iTunes run locally, but tap into iCloud for content. That content is available to any device connected to the service running that application, which enhances the customer experience across any number of devices. iBooks provides a great example of this enhanced multi-device user experience. Imagine that it's early morning and you're eating breakfast before you head out for work. While you're eating breakfast you decide to start reading a book, an iBook running on your iPad. After a chapter or two you put your iPad away, shower, dress, and drive over to the train station for your daily commute to work. While you're on the train, you open iBook on your iPhone and it opens up to the very page you left off on when you stopped reading earlier that morning. When the train reaches your station, you put your iPhone away and start your workday. Fast forward to that evening and you guessed it, when you're ready to start reading on the iPad you left by your bedside you're at the very page you left off at lunch. iCloud takes a number of discrete islands of application consumption across a number of physical devices with varying form factors and turns them all into a single, integrated customer experience that's seamless and effortless. Also note that its approach doesn't rely on ubiquitous network access. Devices link up to iCloud whenever they can to synchronize content. The fact that you're on a train with poor 3G coverage and no Wi-Fi hotspot has little impact on this integrated experience.

Now fast forward a year or two when these same consumers, who happen to be your most influential end users and the drivers of value creation in your company, ask you why their enterprise applications don't work this way. IT organizations that can proactively address this need will be well positioned for success as strategic partners with this influential set of business stakeholders. Those that don't or won't address this need will in the best case be viewed as irrelevant to business success and in the worst case be viewed as impediments to be avoided at all costs.

By the way, don't expect that your end users will be satisfied with a single, seamless and effortless multi-device end-user experience alone. The fuel that drives the engine of enterprise value creation is collaboration. Be prepared to deliver a multi-device computing experience that makes collaboration as seamless and effortless as all the other capabilities that we've discussed. Then sit back and enjoy your new role as the strategic enabler of value creation for your enterprise.

More Stories By Dave Geada

Dave Geada is the CEO of Buzzoink, a mobile search SaaS start-up that delivers advertising solutions to food retailers by enhancing the in-store shopping experience and building brand loyalty. He has over 15 years of experience in technology marketing, working for name brand companies like Computer Associates, Network Solutions and VeriSign. For the last seven years Dave has been marketing cloud computing solutions to both SMB and Fortune 5000 customers at companies like Quest Software, Rackspace and StrataScale.

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