Some of your organization may be very rich and able to afford dedicated executive transportation infrastructure. But I am willing to wager that it isn't as efficient, reliable or available as Southwest Airlines' highly scalable, multi-tenant environment; their fleet of 737's.
I'm not saying that I like flying around on an airline more than on a private jet, but they're expensive. I like Southwest Airlines because they are not. What is more fascinating is that ALL of the adjectives traditionally associated with Cloud Computing can be applied to this organization:
On demand, pay as you go, dynamically provisioned, granular, elastic, opaque, transparent, standardized, highly reliable, highly scalable, flexible, agile, risk mitigating, zero cap-ex, reduced barriers to entry, new business model enabling, metered payment, multi-tenant, dynamic, open, interoperable, without vendor lock-in, consumerized, automated, speedy, constant "state of state of the art", secure, utilizes economies of scale and skill, and above all, cost effective!
Let's just take a couple of my favorites, standardized, scalable, available, secure, multi-tenant and interoperable.
SWA, unlike most other airlines, is highly standardized. They have one reservation system and do their best to drive all traffic to the most cost effective user interface to that system; Southwest.com. The airline only operates one airframe, the 737, thus they leverage standard maintenance practices, piloting and servicing skill across their system. And they have standard pricing so that passengers can predict travel costs and budget accordingly.
As a function of standards, their organization scales easily, which leads to cost effectiveness, agility and elasticity. Again, unlike most other airlines, for SWA to introduce new destinations, their initial investment is limited, so they can expand and contract their portfolio of service quickly.
Their fleet of standardized 737's is highly redundant, highly available and secure. Not only does the airline take advantage of FAA's security infrastructure, it extends it with its own procedures. The 737 is also muti-tenant enabling it to maximize its load efficiency and because the airline maintains more than one if an individual plane goes offline, another is available almost immediately to insure minimal service interuption.
Lastly, SWA promotes interoperability both internally and externally. It goes without saying that all of their airplanes fly in the same sky as the rest, and passengers can fly on one jet just as easily as another, but you can get on a Southwest jet and connect with a completely different airline. They also guaranty service through interoperability by being able to re-route and reschedule service based on their needs or those of their passengers.
I could go on and on, but what is most impressive about SWA is that it can fully absorb the cost of its systems' maintenance and operating costs and still provide enough value to turn a profit. Let's face it, if IT organizations ran like Southwest Airlines, they wouldn't be considered cost centers.
But they don't. Most IT organization are still operating the equivalent of the company jet. They run dedicated datacenters with a hodge-podge of hardware, operating systems, databases and applications. All of this complexity is leading to higher and higher operating costs and less agility and flexibility for the overall organization. This is justified by the rational that THEIR data is so important that it warrants special treatment.
In the long term, it's obvious that those shops continuing to "fly their own jets" will ultimately drive their companies out of business as they loose competitiveness. But in the short run, there needs to be a hybrid approach. Yes, the savviest strategy mandates that organizations should maintain some of their dedicated resources for critical data and processes and slowly experiment with moving the not so crucial stuff to the Cloud. All the while realizing that this compromise has implications and opportunity costs of its own.