Leveling the playing field is a huge challenge to live up to. There has been statements about technologies like this before but they always somehow kept the SME’s out of the playing field. Is cloud computing different from it predecessors and is it a real playing field leveler for the SME’s?
Server virtualization and outsourcing to data centers didn’t really do it for the SME’s in those scenario’s there still is a huge investment upfront. It is less but still an investment that cannot be pre financed by many SME’s. This is where the bigger companies still have the better cards to win a deal over a SME. This is aside of the required knowledge to actually setup and maintain these virtual environments.
The data center outsourcing and/or virtualization furthermore lacks agility this is true for the companies that are able to go this route as for the SME’s. Cloud computing takes away this roadblock since the whole platform is outsourced in a public cloud scenario, installing and maintaining virtual environments is no longer a concern. On top of that pay as you go scenario means no upfront investment.
SME’s can now promise (potential) customers a fully redundant highly available and scalable platform. This enables them to compete with the big guys based on both price and domain knowledge. Bids that in the pre cloud era went to the one that had the best overall proposition are gone. Platform wise the SME can compete with the big companies.
As far as the domain knowledge goes that’s hard to say but the buyer can now focus on selecting the bid based on the exposed domain knowledge. This makes the comparison of the bids way more accessible and transparent.
On the question does cloud computing level the playing field i’d say yes it does from a technology standpoint. Are big customers comfortable enough to go with an SME over its bigger competitor? Will the era of shortlists and prefered suppliers have passed? I don’t know i think it will take a while before these old habits have died too. Will we ever reach that state i am convinced we will. It will take a couple of good examples and marketing buzz from cloud offering parties like Google, Amazon, Microsoft before the buyer is ready to make that step.