Our IT is throwaway. I’m still running Windows 7 and will be until Bill Gates himself comes to Target HQ to click the free upgrade to Windows 10. As businesses, we just don’t need the extra features that these operating systems bring. Think about it. The main applications that 95% of users need are office productivity tools, a web browser and a reliable email client. Anything else is just noise. These will all happily run on a fairly low-spec laptop or desktop.

It’s a common problem that businesses face that they require an IT upgrade not because of a new application or system to improve processes, but simply to run a new operating system because Bill said that the old one just isn’t good enough anymore.

It is my prediction that within 5 years, end-user business IT devices will require only one installed application; the ubiquitous web browser. Every other tool will be rendered pointless.

Cloud computing is here to stay and a move by business owners to adopt cloud as their sole IT strategy will become the only sensible option available. In previous years, there have been fears presented to businesses about the security and reliability of cloud solutions, but think about it; is your data more safe stored in office premises populated 9am-5pm and at the mercy of the cleaner’s hoover replacing the server power or in a 24×7 data centre that’s monitored by CCTV and guarded by military-grade fencing. I know which I’d choose.

Applications are also being delivered in a different way. I recently conducted a market analysis for a new HR system for a client. I looked at three options for them. Two were cloud-based, one sector specific so that it was ready-to-go and one that would need some customisation to get started. But, in both instances, they could be deployed immediately, were cost-effective, highly secure and available 99.9% of the time.

The traditional on-premise solution that I evaluated as part of the analysis made no sense at all. Commercially, it was three times more expensive in annual software licensing, an over-bloated server was required to run the applications (requiring in-house IT resource) and it offered no more functionality than its cloud competitors.

Business decisions are sometimes difficult but moving away from on-premise IT to cloud computing is not a tough one. There are certain situations where having compute resource on-premise is the best way to deliver productivity to end users, but these are becoming less frequent in my discussions. Challenges such as low-bandwidth, resistance from internal IT teams and security fears are dissipating as business leaders see the benefits of going cloud.

I often see comparisons to the Industrial Age and the Victorians. When the factories of northern England were growing, the textile companies needed reliable power sources to keep the facilities going and grow their business. The best option was to deploy huge steam engines in the basement and hire a team of engineers to look after and maintain the investment.

That was until Thomas Edison came along and invented a way to get electricity safely from a fully managed, secure facility and provide power on a utility model.

On-premise IT are the steam engines of the industrial age. Cloud is the national grid. You decide.

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Five Year Prediction

“Within 5 years, end-user business IT devices will require only one installed application.”

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