Look, Ma, No Hardware! - InformationWeek
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5/26/2010
04:34 PM
John Soat
John Soat
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Look, Ma, No Hardware!

Cloud computing spells the end of the glass house, according to some radical prognostications, representing an industry imperative summed up in a paraphrase of President Ronald Reagan: "Mr. CIO, tear down this data center." Then again, some forecasters see a boom in hardware sales, and a reinvigoration of the IT discipline, connected to an embrace of the cloud. The truth, as is usually the case, is likely somewhere in the middle.

Cloud computing spells the end of the glass house, according to some radical prognostications, representing an industry imperative summed up in a paraphrase of President Ronald Reagan: "Mr. CIO, tear down this data center." Then again, some forecasters see a boom in hardware sales, and a reinvigoration of the IT discipline, connected to an embrace of the cloud. The truth, as is usually the case, is likely somewhere in the middle.

In a recent summary of market trends, research firm Gartner predicted that by 2012 one fifth of businesses (20%) "will own no IT assets." That hardware-less future will result from several trends, cloud computing paramount among them.

On the other hand, competing researcher IDC recently predicted that server revenue for public cloud computing will grow to $718 million in 2014 from $582 million in 2009. More tellingly, perhaps, server revenue for private cloud computing will grow to $11.8 billion from $7.3 billion during the same timeframe, according to IDC.

Those two predictions aren't as completely incompatible as they appear.

First, Gartner's prognostication likely refers mostly to small businesses, which employ limited IT assets by definition. The use of the word "own" is interesting in this context, because Gartner points to the trend for workers to use their personal technology, including PCs, laptops, and smartphones, for work. Public cloud services, SaaS and IaaS in particular, are easy and effective ways for small companies and startups to grow IT resources.

Second, what's interesting about IDC's prediction is its emphasis on the growing use of private clouds. Incorporating the dynamic capabilities of cloud computing into an enterprise data center will reinvigorate the use of IT as a strategic business commodity, while moving toward the "on-demand" future for technology many have anticipated.

Optimization is really the operative word when it comes to cloud computing, whether that represents a hardware-free future or one where on-site hardware resources are more efficiently and effectively shared.Cloud computing spells the end of the glass house, according to some radical prognostications, representing an industry imperative summed up in a paraphrase of President Ronald Reagan: "Mr. CIO, tear down this data center." Then again, some forecasters see a boom in hardware sales, and a reinvigoration of the IT discipline, connected to an embrace of the cloud. The truth, as is usually the case, is likely somewhere in the middle.

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