As regular readers will know I have been strongly of the opinion that there are some key elements that are driving the current radical or disruptive change. Principally this comes down to a front office revolution in using technology to empower mobile workers using smartphones and tablets with the flexibility of ‘orchestrated services’ from clouds as opposed to remote access to back office monolithic apps. The last couple of weeks seem to have proved that this is a statement that the industry big boys both agree with and have come to terms with.

The chronological order saw Oracle announce the first move by launching a revised and updated Business Intelligence Suite which included ‘out of the box’ support for Apple iPads (and I assume therefore iPhones as well as they share a common operating system, but the limitations of the screen display are probably an issue) as a delivery platform. This is a strong move towards making the often used phrase of ‘people, process and real-time data’ a practical proposition.

Then Microsoft announced that their Azure cloud platform was now able to support development and deployment of ‘services’ for Apple iPad and iPhone plus Android, simultaneously a remarkable move that ‘opens up’ Microsoft and at the same time encourages a whole new generation of development to take advantage of the well understood Microsoft development environment. It’s an approach that must make it easier for many development shops to make good use of their skills and core systems from the enterprise but being able to transfer adoption to the flourishing numbers of iPads, etc in the hands of enterprise managers.

Then at EMC World came the announcement that the EMC Atmos 2.0 cloud upgrade supported storage for Apple iOS direct as well as Windows etc.  Also around was the Amazon Web Services (AWS) US-only announcement that Amazon Cloud Player now supports Apple iOS though not quite as a fully supported approach. IBM has already made moves with both Lotus and Maximo to embrace delivery on to Apple iPads, and SAP was fully on board with its Business Intelligence offerings back last year on the original iPad.

All three new announcements (May 2011) – and maybe I have missed some other similar announcements – are all based on providing support to smartphones and tablets as the delivery devices for the consumption of cloud-based services, not extending integration of applications from the current enterprise systems. In contrast, the older announcements from IBM and SAP in 2010 are all focussed on extending the support of their existing enterprise solutions.

That’s my crucial point! These new announcements are from companies who would not be seen as natural supporters of Apple or Android, yet as a real understanding of the way cloud-based technology is creating a whole new market place for software and a new generation of front office activities, a sea change in thinking has arrived. The challenge now is not ‘lock in’ as with the enterprise software suites and market but ‘open up’ to the widest range of consuming devices. If your software and cloud can support more types of devices and their operating systems then the resulting ‘services’ will be consumed by more devices and on a ‘pay as you consume’ model this means more revenue, both for the industry player and for their customer.

Understanding this point means that the more successful Apple is in shifting iPads into the market then the bigger the potential market is for your software/cloud hence the support. Clouds are a new game with new rules and so expect to see more announcements of this type over the coming months, rather than seeing the current ones as remarkable exceptions to the industry norm!

Oh and if you are considering what you can do with your iPad and want to find new apps etc then try the iPad Guide web site.