Last Friday was an horrible day for the markets, but a big step forward for the IT industry. EC2, The first large-scale on-demand computing cloud, graduates and is now labelled as production-ready, with SLAs.
After bout 2 years of beta testing and improvements, Amazon offers a computing cloud alongside its storage cloud. Being the first of its kind, the cloud will certainly have a great impact on the IT industry as a whole.
Initially, when Amazon launched its WebServices division and its storage service S3, it might have appeared as a weird move from the large retailer. But now, several years later, with EC2 and the myriad of additional services (payment, content delivery, etc.), it makes a whole lot sense. Amazon is clearly positioning itself to build the infrastructure of the Web. This is big business. And they’re several steps ahead the competition, emerging from Google (using a different approach with AppEngine), Microsoft (with their rumored “Cloud OS” named Strata), and maybe the smaller force.com (even if I don’t really believe in its proprietary approach).
It’s a huge opportunity for software vendors and service providers (plus a death threat to many hosting providers that can’t adapt fast enough): access to a high-end technology and infrastructure to deliver new services to customers at a fraction of the capital required before it. Any startup can now rely on a strong and scalable infrastructure to imagine and create new products and services, without worrying about consequent capital investment in hardware and infrastructure. Also, it will be easier to imagine and try ideas, fostering fast innovation cycles in the online business.
OK. And what about ECM in this?
Enterprise Content Management is about managing content, right? And content, especially pictures or videos, require space to be stored, computing power to be processed (think large picture management, video processing, etc.) and bandwidth to be delivered. It requires infrastructure. A lot. Exactly what the cloud revolution is addressing. That’s why I really expect a strong transformation in the ECM market enabled by the cloud-related technologies and the widely available broadband: we are about to be able to deliver to organisations a high level of service at a fraction of the price is currently cost priced. The Cloud enables new players (and I expect our company to play a key role here) to offers innovative services in the ECM market, disrupting existing leaders stuck with their centralized, aging technology.
Imagine your content repository, plugged onto a high performing cloud-based infrastructure (be it Hadoop / HDFS, my team is already working on and we begin to get really interesting results), S3+SimpleDB (I don’t really believe in this option actually) or Google AppEngine (interesting but so closed and proprietary…). It just opens new horizons to content stores, content processing and content management! Horizons that were just dreams before at reasonable prices. It only can make innovation more vibrant in this area. And we’re not the latest on this…
The ECM market, due to its nature, is gonna be one of the most impacted by the cloud in the IT industry. We now have to achieve unlimited storage and near-linear scalability! We’re committed on this!
So, the could is coming and will dramatically the IT landscape. For the best I think. Don’t give up open source and open standards. They’ll be even more important. And you’ll get the most from the Cloud. Just another step. But a big one. Interesting times ahead…