With Zumapalooza just a few weeks away, everyone here is thinking about the messages that we want to share with our customers. What do our customers need to know about the technologies and trends that are shaping the IT industry? How can we help them effectively plan for the future? As you might expect, cloud is going to be a popular topic again this year. In just a few short years, cloud has gone from disruptive technology to mainstream business imperative.

As food for thought, I wanted to share a recent blog by Tim Waldron, cloud services manager at NetApp, that has been making the rounds here at Zumasys: Cloud is to the Application what Virtualization was to the Server. In this blog, Waldron does an excellent job of illustrating how “cloud is more a business model shift than a technical shift.” And in this way, cloud is actually very different from virtualization, which was arguably one of the most revolutionary technologies of this century. (Until cloud, that is.)

NetApp nethappy

According to Waldron: “Virtualization, while amazingly transformative…did not fundamentally change the way IT services are consumed, paid for or sold.” Cloud, on the other hand, is changing everything.

To demonstrate the impact of cloud on business, Waldron examines examples the impact of cloud on application delivery. Traditional application deployment comes with heavy upfront costs for infrastructure and licensing. And, more often than not, the company will be paying for advanced features that it will never use. That “consumption gap” also comes at a cost. As Waldron explains, “What this creates is a model where the customer, not the vendor, is on the hook to realize the ROI for the given application project.”

Pay-as-you-go software-as-a-service offerings are closing the consumption gap and shifting ROI risk from the customer to the vendor. This shift is particularly relevant for our customers—many of whom depend on custom applications to run their core business. We’ve seen this shift coming for a long time now. Since we started our cloud platform nearly 7 years ago, our focus has been on ERP application hosting in the cloud. Software vendors are now also beginning to respond to this shift, and, as Waldron says, “there will be some significant winners, and for the companies who don’t evolve, there will be some losers.”

This is the future—the promise—of the cloud. This is the reason that every company needs a cloud strategy—particularly for their mission-critical ERP systems and legacy software. It’s time for companies to rethink the way they consume IT. Because cloud is not just changing IT, it’s changing the way that companies do business.

Read Tim Waldron’s full blog

Learn more at Zumapalooza 2014