I probably first heard the term Web 2.0 around 2005, and having come from a technical background where version/release/modification (VRM) was typically only used in the context of software version control, seeing it applied to something that was conceptual or at best used to describe common attributes of a set of “things” was new to me.
Equally there is a re-emerging trend now in the consumer markets to adopt this too – Windows 8, iPhone 5, iPad 3 …no sorry, the new iPad….ah , we seem to have stopped again now!
Where am I going with this? While on the Cloud Social Media Residency in Raleigh, N.C., earlier this year, I had what I thought was a eureka moment – cloud from my perspective is part of the evolution of IT outsourcing. If this is true, is cloud actually Outsourcing 3.0? Surely nobody has invented the term “Outsourcing 3.0”, let alone adopted it yet?
I’ve been working in IT outsourcing for IBM for almost 20 years now, and have watched it evolve. This is how I would describe simplistically the various “versions” of IT outsourcing at the infrastructure level (as opposed to application development) over the years:
|Outsourcing Versions||Time Period||Attributes|
|“1.0”||Late 1980s to early 2000s||Squarely in the IT Department’s domain. Typically outsourced to a specialized service provider in a domestic market. Initially data centre centric, outsourcing management of mainframes to service providers. By the mid 1990s, distributed systems, service desks, end user devices were part of the portfolio scope.|
|“2.0”||Early 2000s to present day||Still in the IT Department’s domain. The trend in this phase was to outsource to service providers with offshore capability to primarily further reduce cost of IT. Offshoring became synonymous with outsourcing. Emergence of higher value outsourcing away from the data centre – Business Process Management/Outsourcing.|
|“3.0”||Present day to 2025?||Business engagement directly with Service Providers, rather than purely in the IT Department’s domain. IT Department shifting from being a Service Provider to an Service Integrator or broker. Trend towards moving workloads and data into the Cloud. IT as a Service.|
|“4.0”||2025? to ….||True IT as a utility. Ubiquitous. Global standards.|
I then set about doing doing some research; surely Google won’t have indexed the term “IT Outsourcing 3.0” , my blog will be the first….
Well, what do you know only 2 pages of results – not bad.
The first hit is about a lecture scheduled for “Agile 2012” in Dallas, Texas discussing Agile development in context of offshoring (Outsourcing 3.0: The Agile Way):
“Agile has impacted the way modern offshore service providers operate. The new modes of cooperation are emerging. Some people call it “clients’ owned teams”, the others prefer the name “virtual captive”. I like calling it “Outsourcing 3.0”.
Why 3.0? Because I see that offshore software development is entering a new era. Finally, the era of Agility.”
Based on this, the speaker’s definition and mine are not dissimilar if we apply to an infrastructure context. Cloud enables the same principles of agility – we quickly provision infrastructure to prototype ideas and demonstrate capability to the business.
The next series of hits didn’t yield much – the label “IT Outsourcing 3.0” has used, but the writers have not defined this – seems more of a marketing term in job advertisements.
The next hit was a blog entry – titled “The Hidden Question Behind Cloud Computing” from 2009, which I think seeks to debunk Cloud, but I’m not sure I really understood the message. However, it attracted a very interesting comment from my perspective, albeit in a singly negative context, as it was in tune with my definition:
“I will comment as a true “gray beard”. I think we should call “Cloud Computing” something like “IT Outsourcing 3.0″.
In the 1960′s we used to send work out to a 3rd party who would keypunch (remember 80 column punched cards), processes and return reports (remember greenbar). That was the 1960s “Cloud”. In the 1980′s and 90′s it was typically local key entry via a terminal over a dedication comm line to a system at the 3rd party’s facility with reports sent back via the comm line to our printer. Now we see similar processing models using the web instead of dedicated comm lines. I guess this is the third generation of outsourcing, or “IT Outsourcing 3.0″.
Sorry, I still see [it as] IT outsourcing. Been doing it for 50 years. Differences – yeh, a bit, but the biggest thing (other than speed) has been changing the Web Cloud for the Exhaust Cloud from the vehicle taking our 1960′s data to the processor and back to us.”
As I open up the search to “outsourcing 3.0 cloud”, I start getting many more relevant hits including one from IDC in 2011 “As the Cloud Metamorphose into Outsourcing 3.0, CIOs and their IT Departments will face a Major Shift in their Traditional Roles, says IDC “ , CIO again in 2011 “Beyond today’s Cloud to Outsourcing 3.0”
Reading through these hits, and many more, as expected there is no agreed definition, but the consensus appears to be that cloud is a disruption to outsourcing, and as such, part of its evolution – whether it’s labelled “Outsourcing 3.0” or something else.
Was I really surprised that I was not first? No, I shall have to starting thinking about v5.0 if I want to be ahead of the pack….