Enterprise Mobile Cloud Issues – Revisited

On a broader front, concerning the generic evolution of enterprises and enterprise IT management, our conclusion is that in the enterprise sphere, at this time, mobile clouds and mobile apps are not viewed as a distinct priority. This is because the enterprise is trying to deal with what it generally views as two fairly separate phenomena: 1) Cloud and 2) Mobile (largely BYOD – bring your own device).

Underlying this uniquely enterprise (and by enterprise we include institutional organizations, such as government, hospitals and others) situation is a process, probably more like a battle or struggle, to come to grips with the future of IT establishments with all of their resources and power, particularly inside of massive business and other organizations.

BYOD and “consumerization” have become the shorthand for this struggle. Our broad conclusions are that there is so much at stake, because the cloud cannot only re-define organizations, but also business models, that the cloud, the mobile cloud and mobile cloud apps will over the next few years swamp resistance in the enterprises.

In short, we believe that enterprises will be dragged into a recognition over a, probably short, period that mobile cloud is a critical phenomenon.

IT departments of enterprises are coping with two particular issues that are significant for the spread of the mobile cloud:

1. BYOD/Consumerization. The influx of smart devices is turning into a flood, which will only continue for the next several years. A mid-2012 survey by Information Week documented that the adjustment to this reality is beginning to take hold at enterprises, if somewhat slowly.

2. Cloud Usage Is Increasing. This is happening partly as a result of: a) the somewhat slow acceptance by enterprises of the Cloud; but also b) the much wider-spread acceptance by the same individuals who constitute the BYOD horde, of cloud services, largely used on mobile devices.

This crisis for IT has been described by many parties. One of the recurrent themes that highlights the problem is the idea that individual employees will often find, or at least claim, that they have better information services and technology working at home than they do at their company sites.

As one source (EMC) put it:

“We think that, over time, the role of IT will be to broker both internal and external IT services back to the business, playing more of a role of consultant while retaining overall control. Some of those services will be generated internally using cloud-like models, while other services will inevitably be sourced externally from service providers who are also using cloud-like models.”

On an organizational level, the challenge for IT is that lines of business (LOB) managers may use the array of tools and the cloud to fashion their own solutions, which, they may or may not, turn over to IT to manage. This is in contrast to the classic structure of enterprise IT, where corporate-wide solutions were developed or selected and managed by IT. These included systems such as: ERP (enterprise resource planning), MRM (marketing resource management), and functions such as financial management, human capital management, project planning and management and a host of other basic and critical systems. Thus there can be fracturing of the established procedures and organizational responsibilities.

If we look at typical enterprise motivations and objectives, they are probably about as follows in many cases:

1. Protect the value, security and long-term viability of their huge investment in legacy systems and databases.

2. Deal with the plethora of issues surrounding migration of systems and functionality to the cloud in general.

3. Deal with issues surrounding mobile access for their employees.

4. Figure out how to address expanded access to information systems for partners (e.g., distributors, suppliers) and even customers.

Frankly, at this stage the Mobile Cloud as an issue probably falls out from addressing issues 3 and 4, rather than being a stated priority for most enterprises. Nonetheless it is clear that enterprises are quickly being drawn into dealing with the mobile cloud.

But it is necessary to point out that enterprises are still working their way through many fundamental issues regarding “the cloud” itself. This is evidenced by the barrage of articles appearing in various industry media still selling enterprises on the benefits of the cloud, under titles such as “Making A Business Case For The Cloud.” Many enterprises still have reservations about issues such as reliability and redundancy, as well as the continuing concerns expressed about security of the cloud. When we see a stream of articles trying to spoon feed IT managers on the idea of implementing cloud-based email, because it is simple and a limited risk, we can grasp just how ambivalent about, or even opposed to, the cloud many are.

Overall, we believe that the progression towards massive penetration of the cloud into enterprises is irreversible and will only accelerate in the next two-to-three years. With this progression will come inevitable acceptance of, and exploiting of, the mobile cloud.