The Cloud Security Alliance, in conjunction with ISACA will be initiating a new working group to perform research on what it means to have Market Maturity in the Cloud. This is a very interesting subject for me. I have been working in the telecommunications and data industry now for over 25 years. During that time, I have observed in real terms the application of the phrase ‘ahead of its time’ and what that can mean to a nascent industry or technology. As an example, people are amazed to discover that the technology that would become the fax machine was first invented in 1843, in England by Alexander Bains (a psychologist). Yet it took almost 100 years for the fax machine to become the common business tool it is today. Some of the technological factors that influence the maturation of a product include communication, computing, fabrication, miniaturization and materials. Ultimately, one of the most critical factors is whether or not the technology exists to manufacture the product or perform the functions in a cost-effective fashion, and whether there is sufficient ubiquity of that technology to allow the masses to utilize it. There are, however, two other important elements, I believe, in the maturation of a product or service. Are people psychologically disposed to using it and is there a legal and regulatory environment that describes its use?
Psychology plays an important part in the acceptance and use of a technology and product. I am 50 years old now, and I remember slide rules, record players, cassette tapes, typewriters, Cobol, acoustic modems, DEC Writers, Archie and Gopher. I have been engaged in technology all my life and am very comfortable with it, but still, I know that I view technology differently than my children do. Take my smart phone. It does 101 things, and oh yeah it makes phone calls. I know about those 101 things, and I use some of those 101 things, but the main reason I have a cell phone is to make phone calls. But, personally, I prefer not using a cell phone to make phone calls. I think it is inferior to my traditional ‘land line’ phone and I will use a land line phone if I have the choice. My children, on the other hand, use their smart phones for 101 different purposes, and sometimes to make phone calls. Similarly, I find that the maturity of the cloud as a product that is both used and accepted by the masses is not simply a function of whether the technology exists to provide the service in a cost-effective fashion, but also whether or not people are comfortable using it. For this reason, I believe that the younger generations will be great drivers of the cloud market and its maturation. People of my generation are adopting the cloud because of the economics. Our children will use the cloud because they will think it is the obvious way to do things.
Finally, laws and regulations – in some ways we hate them, but ultimately businesses need them. While it is true that businesses can be choked by over regulation, it is also true that businesses can flounder when there is uncertainty. When there is an absence of laws and regulations that establish the rules of the game and the field of play, it creates uncertainty and fear for businesses. Uncertainty and fear can kill a business model. Because the cloud and the technology that has supported and enabled it has changed and developed so quickly, laws and regulations are struggling to keep up.
That is changing, and organizations like ISACA and the Cloud Security Alliance have been and will be instrumental in that change.
This Cloud Market Maturity project is an important endeavor. inContact is supporting and participating in this project. The results and guidance from this project will provide legislators, technologists, consumers and businesses with the guidance and information that each needs in order to further the progress of the maturing Cloud Model. The Cloud Security Alliance is looking for input from users and providers as to why and how they use the Cloud. If you would like to participate, you can go to the CSA web site, or feel free to contact me and I would be happy to try to facilitate you with information.