Seven years to SEAP, not to cloud in general
Gartner recently put out a press release titled “Gartner Says Cloud Application Infrastructure Technologies Need Seven Years to Mature“, based on a report from my colleague Mark Driver. That’s gotten a bunch of pickup in the press and in the blogosphere. I’ve read a lot of people commenting about how the timeline given seems surprisingly conservative, and I suspect it’s part of what has annoyed Reuven Cohen into posting, “Cloud computing is for everyone — except stupid people.”
The confusion, I think, is over what the timeline actually covers. Mark is talking specifically about service-enabled application platforms (SEAPs), not cloud computing in general. Basically, a SEAP is a foundation platform for software as a service. Examples of current-generation SEAP platforms are Google App Engine, Microsoft Azure, the Facebook application platform, Coghead, and Bungee Labs. (Gartner clients who want to drill into SEAP, see The Impact of SaaS on Application Servers and Platforms.) When you’re talking about SEAP adoption, you’re talking about something pretty complex, on a very different timeframe than the evolution of the broader cloud computing style.
Cloud computing in general already has substantial business uptake, with potential radical acceleration due to the economic downturn. I say “potential” because it’s very clear to me that existing public cloud services, at their current state of maturity, frequently don’t meet the requirements that enterprises are looking for right now. I have far more clients suddenly willing to consider taking even big risks to leap into the cloud, than I have clients who actually have projects well-suited to the public cloud and who will realize substantial immediate cost savings from that move.
On the flip side, for those who have public-facing Web infrastructure, cloud services are now a no-brainer. Expect cloud elasticity and fast provisioning to simply become part of hosting and data center outsourcing solutions. Traditional hosting providers who don’t make the transition near-immediately are going to get eaten alive.