Salesforce.com Australia has few friends it has known longer than Alan Perkins who has been a keen supporter here since the early days. If you can find 20 mins to run this presentation he gave at the CeBit Cloud Conference last week, its absolutely worth it as there's very little Alan doesn't know about the cloud. In fact, if he doesn't know it - it is a fair bet it isn't even worth knowing!
Alan makes a very important point about the cloud - using the analogy of 19th century industrialists - that the development of the cloud is driving some people to think only about what it removes - cost, maintenance time, even physical realities like datacentres. But as he says, one must not just think of cloud as "rent-a-computer".
"...when 19th Century industrialists were offered utility power from a central provider for the first time, all they could think of was that their lathes would keep turning – they didn’t see electricity as a solution to all sorts of unimagined potentialities (such as lighting). The parallel is to ask the question, what are we missing out on today, what hidden potentialities exist in Cloud that we haven’t yet figured out?"
Alan breaks out salesforce.com as one example of some of the new developments that come from the integration potential of cloud-based applications. He refers specifically to the way that using open APIs, both Twitter and Facebook have been integrated into the Service Cloud so that when customers tweet a company it can be recognised within the Service Cloud and workflowed through the system to ensure a resolution - so important he says because Generation Y simply don't pick up the phone anymore - they just Tweet or post on Facebook.
As he concludes his presentation: cloud is what happens when you stop thinking about IT, about limitations, and start thinking..."what if?"