Cloud computing is a new phenomenon made up of several familiar ones: the economy of scale of a large, professionally managed data center,; Internet technologies that follow standards and allow for predictable connections; and virtualization, which allows for full server utilization.
When combined, however, they represent a new form of computing, Daniels said. "The cloud ultimately is a transformative force. It allows you to do things that you couldn't do with traditional technology."
He gave the example of a large supply chain, such as HP's $60 billion-a-year supply chain of computer parts and software. Knowledge about each part is limited because integrating all the vendors and steps of the supply chain is a cost-prohibitive task. But if HP requires each vendor to file reports in the cloud on its parts as they ship, HP can perform analytics on the assembled information that could track down specific issues and problems.
"The [cloud] transformation allows integration of information that wouldn't have happened before," he said.
Gartner analyst David Cearley added to Daniels' analysis by saying that cloud computing providers will get to automated operations in the 2010-2012 timeframe, or sooner than enterprise data centers. Doing so will give them a competitive advantage over on-premises computing, he said.
Enterprises will get to automated operations in the 2015-2020 timeframe, he said.
In another estimate, Cearley said today's "monolithic" clouds, where one workload is accepted and processed for one enterprise, eventually will be offset by vertical workloads for multiple parties, such as HP's supply chain integration, in the 2010-2012 timeframe.
From 2012 to 2015, different cloud suppliers will learn how to federate their resources so that a single customer can make use of more than one cloud at a time.
From 2019 onward, cloud suppliers will operate in standardized environments that allow customers to move workloads or accounts from one supplier to another.
Daniels and Cearley agreed that the backbone of cloud computing is the production of services. "Instead of isolation islands, different people will be building services, all to operate in the cloud," Cearley said.
A new kind of systems integrator already is emerging, such as Aptiva, who offers to combine services from, say, Salesforce and Amazon, to take advantage of the cloud for the enterprise, he noted. Although Daniels didn't name them, examples of such integrators might include the IBM Blue Cloud initiative, Appirio, or Juniper Networks.
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