Did Cloud Computing Jump the Shark?

By Amy Newman (Send Email)
Posted Oct 20, 2010


More on cloud computing

Read the headlines and talk to some of the vendors, and it's easy to believe that there isn't an organization not deploying applications to the cloud.

Gartner sees cloud computing on its way to the Trough of Disillusionment, while IDC says cloud computing is the fastest growing IT segment.

IDC, long been a champion of cloud computing, certainly to believes that's where the future lies. More than 18 months ago, Senior Vice President and chief analyst Frank Gens claimed that although the adoption rate for clouds at the time was around 15 percent, it would account for 25 percent of the net growth of technology from 2011 to 2012, and 30 percent of growth from 2012 to 2013.

Cloud computing is now exceeding these expectations.

Last Friday, the firm released the report, "Public Cloud Business Continuity Services Remain an Underserved Opportunity Overall." The research, based on results of a Web survey of 300 qualified IT and business professionals, found cloud computing to be one of the faster growing areas of IT spending.

In a publicly released statement, Gens noted, "With 27 percent growth, we are 'crossing the chasm' with public IT cloud services, moving from just early adopters to early mainstream organizations. This makes 2010 and 2011 a critical time for CIOs and IT vendors to define their strategies and stake out early advantages for their organizations."

While IDC sees cloud computing as the answer to many of the issues data centers face, Gartner is far less bullish. This is far from the first time the two have disagreed, but this time they seem to be in direct contrast to each other.

Gartner's Hype Cycle, a graphical depiction of "the typical progression of an emerging technology, from over-enthusiasm through a period of disillusionment to an eventual understanding of the technology's relevance and role in a market or domain," is often met with great anticipation.

This year, Gartner (NYSE: IT) looked at 1,800 technologies and trends, and grouped them into 75 Hype Cycle reports. Cloud computing, along with social analytics, micoblogging and video search, found their way into the Emerging Technologies Hype Cycle, the longest running of the annual Hype Cycles.

The Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies is industry-agnostic, and instead focuses on technologies that have "particularly high levels of hype, or those that may not be broadly acknowledged but which we believe have the potential for significant impact," Jackie Fenn, vice president and Gartner Fellow, was quoted as saying.

Based on the results, the outlook for cloud is, well, cloudy. Private cloud computing (along with media tablets and Internet TV) is frequently cited as the solution to a plethora of data center woes. This no doubt fueled its trajectory into the Peak of Inflated Expectations. Meanwhile, cloud computing in general has already passed the peak, and disillusioned users should be on the rise as it slides toward the trough.

However, from an adoption perspective, the news is brighter: Cloud computing adoption rates and the technology's impact is increasing, and Gartner anticipates the technology will be considered mainstream within the next five years.

So which is it? A little of both, no doubt. As the number of cloud computing installs grow, organizations with unrealistic expectations or inappropriate applications of the technology will be disappointed. Deployments will be scaled back and modified, and cloud will not be viewed as the vaccine for all ills. But the condensation has already occurred; cloud is not going back in the bottle.

Amy Newman is the managing editor of ServerWatch and Enterprise IT Planet. She has been covering virtualization since 2001, and is the coauthor of Practical Virtualization Solutions, published by Pearson in October 2009.

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