Practitioners looking to the future for a vision of the IT department a decade or two ahead must stop looking at the cloud as a noun and start looking at clouding as a verb. Cloud is a noun describing a set of efficiency principles that can now be applied to a newly stateless once state-ful storage and compute IT estate driven by virtualization and cloud operating systems. It could be debated that the condominium or hotel were early commercial clouds, a housing cloud that was multi-tenet. Similarly zipcar can be argued as a car cloud particularly if someone can zip a car into the zipcar fleet and reap the corollary commercial benefits when said car is rented. See getaround.com and others for examples of cars being clouded.
The clouding of storage and compute has given rise to Infrastructure as a Service, Platform as a Service, and now Software as a Service. The popular thinking is correct in suggesting that the Chief Information Officer be made obsolete and a Chief Procurement Officer take said CIO’s place. The procurement officer will orchestrate Capabilities as a Service in a manner that creates strategic competitive advantage maintaining core competencies internally (on “clouded” storage and compute estates operated with modern cloud operating systems/brokers) and smart sourcing satellite competencies now commoditized. This can be compared to the optimization of the supply chain in the auto industry for added context.
Looking one or two decades ahead, leaders are pressed to answer what can be clouded above and beyond compute and storage. One way to explore the notion of clouding state-ful resources is to think about Anything as a Service. Anything as a Service allows the exploration of clouding the resource human capacity in addition to many others. Human capacity is somewhat state-ful to a role, a title, a single human being, and a fixed set of tools. Leaders must imagine a world where Workplace can be a Service, Expertise can be a Service, Business Process can be a Service and these three can be collapsed into Industry as a Service. Industry as a Service can deliver of the once phantom promise of truly standing up XYZ “in a box”. In a world where expertise, work place (or work space, particularly for knowledge workers), and business processing are stateless and liquid enough to be orchestrated for the job we need done, the role needed, the expertise needed, the context, and the security and entitlement we need creates the opportunity to eventually explore Human as a Service (HuaaS).
We may never move clouding up the stack all the way to making human capacity stateless and hence delivering said capacity as a Service, but the companies that move furthest and fastest up the stack clouding state-ful resources along the way will engineer the agility and on-demand efficient operating models to win. The somewhat simple thought leadership as is to replace the thinking about cloud as a noun with thinking about clouding as a verb driving discussions around Anything as a Service marching to a future state where Everything can be a Service (EvaaS).
Will smart robots eventually be instantiated to spin up more human capacity when demand is needed?
P.S. This article is meant to force multiply innovation, take the ideas and think about how you can beat the competition going stateless up the currently state-ful stack.