Cloud, Cloud, and More Cloud

Well, it's day two here at Enterprise Connect, and the transformation stories just keep coming -- whether we're talking business, mobile, digital, or cloud. Is transformation the biggest theme of this year's event? Since we still have more than two days packed full of enterprise communications content to go, I'm going to play it safe here and declare it too soon to say -- ask me again tomorrow.

In this morning's general sessions and keynotes, much of the transformational speak seemed to keep coming back to cloud. While we've been discussing cloud and hosted services for years now, it has seemed as if the enterprise hasn't really been ready to take it seriously -- until now, of course, when all at once, it seems as if everybody is ready to at least consider cloud solutions, if not go full-in on it.

In this morning's Enterprise Summit, centered on how businesses should prepare for the next wave of communications, cloud was a focal point for all the various types of enterprises comprising the panel. As Jeffrey Fairbanks, global head of AV and Media Technology at Bloomberg L.P., summarized:

"In the enterprise, there's absolutely a place for cloud. ... Hybrid is an overused term, but it does kind of accurately articulate where I think, personally, the world is going to go [but] there's no one absolute answer to anything. There are shades of grey, if you will. ...To take the stance cloud-only, or to take the stance on-prem only, will be their right, too."

Following the Enterprise Summit, we quickly reset the stage to bring out Rowan Trollope, Cisco's senior vice president and general manager of the IoT and Collaboration Technology Group, for his keynote. While Rowan made the big announcement that Cisco would be investing $150 million in a fund aimed at developers, he spent much of his presentation painting Cisco Spark as a "revolutionary cloud platform," created out of the company's efforts to eliminate complexity and create something completely new.

"We're not building things in the cloud just because it's a cool new technology," Rowan said. "I mean, look, I'm an engineer; we like to ... take advantage of new technologies. But this is not technology for technology's sake. And it's not because of cost either, although that might be a fine reason to leverage the cloud. There's a really important reason: a breakthrough experience."

And, of course, when Adam Swidler, technology evangelist for Google for Work, took the stage next for the Google keynote, all the focus was on cloud. Adam brought Craig Walker, CEO of Dialpad (formerly Switch.co), and Greg Meyers, CIO of Motorola Solutions, on stage with him to showcase a real-life deployment of a cloud-based communication and collaboration solution to 22,000 company employees.

With Google Apps for Work for productivity applications and Dialpad providing the voice element, Greg was able to take 100% of Motorola's U.S.-based employees from wired and the desktop, to cloud and mobile. For anyone still doubting the viability of a cloud solution for large enterprises, I really hope you were sitting in the audience to hear first-hand the business transformation that can come from the cloud, even at such scale.

But the cloud discussions didn't end there. For the final keynote of the morning, Doug Suriano, senior vice president and general manager for Oracle Communications, came on stage to discuss how the company is powering business transformation. And surprise, surprise, the cloud has a lot to do with it.

Doug spoke about the "cloud world that we are all moving to," stating that Oracle's most prominent investment has been in the cloud, starting about five years ago. As many know, Oracle owns a lot of business applications, and according to Doug, it is in the process of moving each of them to the cloud.

In just one morning, we heard cloud transformation stories from Oracle, Google, Motorola, Cisco, and others. With so much cloud in so little time, this year's Enterprise Connect is shaping up to go down as the year of the cloud.

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