Wading into the waters of cloud adoption

I’ve been pondering the dot write-ups that I need to do for Gartner’s upcoming Cloud Computing hype cycle, as well as my forthcoming Magic Quadrant on Web Hosting (which now includes a bunch of cloud-based providers), and contemplating this thought:

We are at the start of an adoption curve for cloud computing. Getting from here, to the realization of the grand vision, will be, for most organizations, a series of steps into the water, and not a grand leap.

Start-ups have it easy; by starting with a greenfield build, they can choose from the very beginning to embrace new technologies and methodologies. Established organizations can sometimes do this with new projects, but still have heavy constraints imposed by the legacy environment. And new projects, especially now, are massively dwarfed by the existing installed base of business IT infrastructure: existing policies (and regulations), processes, methodologies, employees, and, of course, systems and applications.

The weight of all that history creates, in many organizations, a “can’t do” attitude. Sometimes that attitude comes right from the top of the business or from the CIO, but I’ve also encountered many a CIO eager to embrace innovation, only to be stymied by the morass of his organization’s IT legacy. Part of the fascination of the cloud services, of course, is that it allows business leaders to “go rogue” — to bypass the IT organization entirely in order to get what they want done ASAP, without much in the way of constraints and oversight. The counter-force is the move to develop private clouds that provide greater agility to internal IT.

Two client questions have been particularly prominent in the inquiries I’ve been taking on cloud (a super-hot topic of inquiry, as you’d expect): Is this cloud stuff real? and What can I do with the cloud right now? Companies are sticking their toes into the water, but few are jumping off the high dive. What interests me, though, is that many are engaging in active vendor discussions about taking the plunge, even if their actual expectation (or intent) is to just wade out a little. Everyone is afraid of sharks; it’s viewed as a high-risk activity.

In my research work, I have been, like the other analysts who do core cloud work here at Gartner, looking at a lot of big-picture stuff. But I’ve been focusing my written research very heavily on the practicalities of immediate-term adoption — answering the huge client demand for frameworks to use in formulating and executing on near-term cloud infrastructure plans, and in long-term strategic planning for their data centers. The interest is undoubtedly there. There’s just a gap between the solutions that people want to adopt, and the solutions that actually exist in the market. The market is evolving with tremendous rapidity, though, so not being able to find the solution you want today doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to get it next year.

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Posted on June 9, 2009, in Industry and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. >stymied by the morass of his organization’s IT legacy

    Bingo. Ten out of ten IT operations staffers that I have dealt with just want the clouds to go away and are using every last bit of FUD that they can generate to protect the status-quo.

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  2. I don’t think it’s quite that bad — there are plenty of IT folks who would like to get out of the business of doing grindingly repetitive tasks — but certainly it threatens the status quo, and a non-trivial percentage of people react accordingly.

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