In my discussions as both a startup guy and self proclaimed cloud expert I'm asked frequently if the CIO of large businesses care about cloud computing. Excect for a few notable exceptions, my experience indicates cloud computing appears to be a bottom up adoption. We're frequently seeing a champion within large organizations who become a kind of internal advocate for our cloud services. For us, we focus on the development of so called private clouds so there tends to be an extended timeframe between the deployment of the private cloud to applications being run on them. But eventually these projects do gain a level of visiability for one reason or another. For the most part because our champion typically becomes a given companies "cloud guy".
The other day I had a very interesting conversation with Vijay Manwani the CTO and Founder of Bladelogic. Our conversation touched upon a number of subjects ranging from hiring a CEO to the importance of the customer CIO to finding a corporate champion. What was interesting is he confirmed that he saw a similar adoption pattern for bladelogic to what I've been seeing for our cloud computing platform. Although bladelogic isn't a cloud platform their data center automation platform offered to enterprises does have a lot of "cloud like" features. For this reason I think Bladelogic's history does serve as nice point of comparison for what we in the cloud computing space need to follow.
In our conversation Vijay described a 4 year cycle starting mostly with prototype deployments. For the early customers of bladelogic, they would for the most part "kick the tires", seeing if the solution worked for them. He said these sales cycles could last years. Eventually, thanks in part to internal champions they started to see further and further adoption leading to what he called a "tipping point" in year 3 when their sales exploded. He see's cloud computing in a similar way. So if 2008 is year 1, he said not expect the explosive growth in the enterprise space for another couple years. He went on to say that he thought cloud computing was potentially a huge disruptive technology trend.
Another comment Vijay made was that one of the best things to happen to Bladelogic was closing their first round of funding just before Sept 11 2001. He said the downturn meant they could recruit some the best people, with little or no competition from other startups. He also said that the rise of Opsware as a competitor gave their potential customers a basis of comparison. Meaning that potential customers were able to contrast not what each did the same but what the others didn't do. So in other words, competition is ultimately a good thing. The more companies pitching cloud computing, the better the overall industry will do. In closing he said to find that one thing that you can do better then anyone else.