You need a CAMSS strategy. Part of that strategy may be to leave out one or many of the components.
IBM has been focused on CAMSS (Cloud, Analytics, Mobile, Social, and Security) for a few years now. It's not just a fad because components of the CAMSS model—namely mobile, social, and security—are a must for any business to compete in the future. I leave out cloud and analytics for a reason, which I'll get to shortly.
Of course, IBM isn't the only one focusing on CAMSS. Organizations all over the world have been making strides toward one or many of the aspects of CAMSS.
Cloud is nothing new for IBM i customers. Personally, I'd argue we've had our own (and I really don't like the term) "private cloud" for many years. The ability to scale up, formerly known as Capacity Upgrade On-Demand, was a groundbreaking concept by which you could temporarily turn on idle cores for year-end processing or other busy system times of the year. You'd pay for what you use. The concept of cloud is well...cloudy. Especially when you're using outside resources in the Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), or Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) models. In that regard, you're outsourcing. And there's nothing wrong with taking advantage of a service that someone else does better if you can spend less resources and accept the risks. The key is to pick your spots carefully. Would I use an ERP in the cloud? No. It's just too important to have servers in-house that are always on rather than count on a vendor to keep their service on as well as an ISP to do the same. For the most part, I'm confident that in-house IT is a stronger option for core business applications, especially in the IBM i world. Would I consider cloud for off-site backup? Yes. I'd consider it. And I have, although I haven't bought. For me, I'd view it as a redundant option to tape or as part of an incremental strategy. We'll have to see on that one.
It all depends on what you want to achieve. But don't believe the hype that "everyone is going to the cloud." Some are. Some are even paying for cloud licenses but not going anywhere. Some are literally taking years to make the transition a reality—Google Qantas and Lotus Notes, for example.
The cost difference between cloud and on-premises depends on the solution. While the licensing can be cheaper, any proposal that's come across my desk so far has been more costly to move to the cloud based primarily on communication cost increases we'd have to incur. For example, I could pay for an off-site HA/DR site, but I'd also have to pay for a communications trunk to handle the traffic. Over five years, it's actually cheaper for me to have a modular data center constructed and connected via dark fibre. The cloud has a nice, shiny lustre. Make sure you rub it a little before you buy...it might just get a bit dull.
Analytics is also nothing new. It's only a matter of degree. Analytics can be as simple as a stock inventory report or as complex as a dashboard of all social media interactions regarding a particular brand. I had a conversation this week regarding analytics, especially related to the IBM i space. Many shops still roll their own when it comes to analytics, using relatively inexpensive tools and developing custom business intelligence reports and key operating indicator dashboards. I have big plans to use a lot of the DB2 for i Services so that we can see at a very high level how all aspects of the IBM i partitions are running. Where IBM is going with analytics is at the high end: big data. For the majority of small to medium businesses, I'd argue that there's not so much a need for tapping big data as there is for tapping relevant data. Scrubbing big data for relevant data is the point of big data analytics, but the smaller your business data is, the less relevant data you're going to find in the big data pool.
Mobile is an area in which we can all play nicely together. Everyone should care about mobile, no matter the size of the business. While reports of the death of the personal computer have been greatly exaggerated, it's definitely contemplating hospice care. There may be a day when we won't be tapping on our laptop keyboards, but I don't see it quite yet. What is happening is a continued upswing of mobile device sales, be it tablets or smartphones. We just released our new website a week or so ago, and I wasn't shocked to see that 46 percent of our website traffic was from mobile devices, mostly iOS and Android operating systems. We had to build the site with mobile in mind. By the way, I'm putting together an article on its PHP/DB2 architecture so keep an eye out. It's 2015, and we need to be thinking in terms of mobility. RFID and tablets in the warehouse instead of bar codes and bar code readers is today, not the future.
Another area we must be investing in is social. The concept of social computing is second nature to the majority of people on this side of the sod. Younger people especially live in a mobile and social world where they rely on the digital opinions of the comments section of a product page rather than asking a sales associate or even a friend before purchasing. They don't even think about it as "social." That's the term old people use to describe essentially this lifestyle of sharing information in a more modern fashion. It's what they know. The majority of 10-year-olds probably won't know what it's like to buy stamps at the post office in a few years. With regard to social, the main concept in my humble opinion is the breaking down of information silos. How many companies have people guarding information for job security reasons? I'd suggest most. Social business tries to eliminate that, and the biggest naysayers are the ones who want to protect their data from other employees. The transformation to a social businesses doesn't happen overnight, but it needs to be started.
Security, once again, is nothing new. Everything is connected. By 2020, estimates are that 50 billion devices will be online. This is an amazing technological feat for our species. It's also a major security challenge. On the simplest example, imagine if you had the default password for a particular model of a Wi-Fi access point. Now expand that to car-management systems or home electrical meters. Information security will become one of the biggest industries in the world, if not the biggest. Crippling an enemy nation will no longer be done with drones and bombs, or even nuclear deterrent but via cyber warfare. On a small scale, some IBM i administrators still debate whether to SSL encrypt their internal network Telnet sessions. I think it's a no-brainer.
For IBM and other vendors, CAMSS means services, as all components are highly serviceable. You need to understand what's important to your business and focus toward the areas that mean the most to you. That may mean security, or it might mean mobile. Either way, you need a CAMSS strategy. For me, my strategy is focused on the MSS components. Analytics will grow organically. Cloud will continue to need serious justification.