How The Cloud Breaks Down Innovation Barriers

This post is part one of a three part series examining how the cloud accelerates innovation. Tune in next week to read how the open cloud and OpenStack can spark innovation.

A lot has been said about the cloud: It can save you money, it increases agility, it offers infinite scale.

But one benefit – and a critical one, at that – that is often overlooked regarding cloud computing is its ability to support and increase innovation within an organization. It’s a basic premise, but the importance cannot be ignored. Cloud computing enables IT to be deployed, configured and adapted faster, thus spurring innovation. Therefore, adopting cloud-based systems breaks down the barriers to innovation and can accelerate it.

How does this happen? Without the cumbersome need to deploy new, on-premise IT resources to begin or complete a project, computing resources are available, literally, at the flick of a switch. There’s no longer a wait for IT department to provision infrastructure, cutting the time from idea to implementation to mere minutes instead of the weeks or months it once took in a legacy world.

Cloud computing takes a lot of the day-to-day, non-value-add IT headaches out of the equation. Server malfunctions, infrastructure bottlenecks and other typical IT roadblocks no longer weigh on IT’s shoulders, freeing those resources to innovate, whether that is designing new products or working to boost the company’s competitive edge.

A recent study from Dell found that roughly 75 percent of IT budgets support the status quo. That’s a giant chunk of change devoted to just keeping the lights on. Leveraging the cloud can reduce that percentage, freeing up more dollars for research and development and more money to be funneled toward focusing on improving the business.

Cloud options like Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) all stoke the flames of innovation by opening new doors. SaaS frees IT from the constant nagging of software patches and upgrades by moving frequently used apps to the web. Since only one version of the app exists, and it is managed by a single company, it can evolve faster and runs more smoothly because it is backed by experts without the need for IT intervention.

Meanwhile, PaaS lets organizations test, design, develop and deploy applications quickly and in a cloud environment without the time and financial commitments and minus the complexity inherent with buying and managing the underlying hardware and software. That means development moves more quickly and users can create, deploy, scale, maintain, customize and test web applications without IT needing to be heavily involved.

And IaaS opens the door for computing resources to be used and paid for on a per-drink, or pay-per-use, basis. Computing power can be spun up or scaled down as needed and resources like servers, software, storage and network equipment can be provisioned through the web or APIs, thus enabling for swifter innovation at a lower cost without having to scramble or wait for resources.

Whether through SaaS, PaaS or IaaS, moving to the cloud arms organizations with the ability to experiment and to cook up new ideas that time and budget likely wouldn’t have allowed for under the old guard. By moving key IT segments into the cloud and letting external experts keep tabs on the day-to-day workings of the infrastructure and the inevitable firefights that arise, organizations can allow their workers and staff to focus more on doing the jobs they were hired to do: innovate, or, to put it another way, it lets them continue to turn on light bulbs over their heads instead of worrying about keeping the lights on.

The issues and topics discussed in this blog post, and the ones to follow, can be examined more deeply in the new whitepaper, How The Cloud Accelerates Innovation, which is available for download now.

John Engates joined Rackspace in August 2000, just a year after the company was founded, as Vice President of Operations, managing the datacenter operations and customer-service teams. Two years later, when Rackspace decided to add new services for larger enterprise customers, John created and helped develop the Intensive Hosting business unit. Most recently, John has played an active role in the evolution and evangelism of Rackspace's cloud-computing strategy and cloud products. John meets frequently with customers to hear about their needs and concerns, and to discuss Rackspace's vision for the future of cloud computing. John currently serves as Chief Technology Officer. John is also an internationally recognized cloud computing expert and a sought-after speaker at technology conferences, including CA World, the Goldman Sachs Techtonics Conference and Cloud Expo. He speaks on the future of cloud computing, enterprise cloud adoption, data center efficiency, green data center best practices, and more. Prior to joining Rackspace, John was a founder and General Manager at Internet Direct, one of the original Internet service providers in Texas. John is a graduate of the University of Texas at San Antonio and holds a B.B.A. in Accounting.


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