Gartner: Cloud Computing Hype ‘Deafening’

Cloud computing and service-oriented architectures (SOA) are transformational technologies that will deliver sweeping changes in IT’s focus and capabilities — but while SOA is maturing, IT managers will need to cut through the hype surrounding the cloud if they’re to take advantage of it as well.

That’s according to IT researcher Gartner’s (NYSE: IT) “Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies” report, which concluded that as a result, IT managers have their work cut out for them in narrowing their options in the cloud.

“The levels of hype around cloud computing in the IT industry are deafening, with every vendor expounding its cloud strategy and variations, such as private cloud computing and hybrid approaches, compounding the hype,” the report said.

Cloud computing vendors need to have a strategy now, and enterprise IT organizations should be studying the technology, Gartner added.

“Vendor organizations must clarify their cloud strategies in the next 12 months, while user organizations must demand road maps for the cloud from their vendors today,” David Mitchell Smith, Gartner vice president and fellow, wrote in the report.

IT will become a service provider rather than a technology management organization. IT managers “will watch portfolios of owned technologies decline as service portfolios grow,” Smith added.

SOA on the rise

In contrast to cloud computing, service-oriented architecture (SOA) technology has passed the hype peak and is now widely adopted.

“Survey data from 2008 indicate that nearly 80 percent of organizations were using SOA or expected to use it by mid-2009,” the report said.

The report defines SOA as modular software that can be distributed and shared — designed so that services are separate from the user interface, and those services can therefore be accessed by more than one application.

SOA benefits enterprise IT because it “clarifies system design, isolates the modules from each other and increases the interface documentation,” the report said.

Gartner positions SOA on the “slope of enlightenment,” well on its way to mainstream adoption. However, some enterprise developers have not gained all the benefits that SOA promises, the report indicated.

“Some organizations have been disappointed by the low level of service sharing (‘reuse’) that they have achieved. Some SOA projects have encountered problems in governance, testing, configuration management, version control, metadata management, service-level monitoring, security and interoperability,” the report said.

Web 2.0 arrives, e-books and green IT remain on the horizon

Another trendy technology — Web 2.0 — is similarly close to mainstream adoption by enterprise IT, Gartner said. In particular, corporate blogging should achieve widespread enterprise adoption in less than two years.

But many companies still fear that technologies designed for consumer use may lack the security and controls that enterprise IT demands. Web 2.0 technology that enables direct interaction between customers and the enterprise also is being adopted faster than businesses themselves are changing, the report warned.

While Web 2.0 collaboration and communications may be catching on in the workplace — albeit gradually — other buzzworthy technologies have yet to see similar levels of enterprise adoption.

For instance, e-book readers are receiving a great deal of attention, with vendors like Amazon, Google, Sony and Barnes & Noble all playing in the area.

But enterprises will need to monitor the rate of adoption of e-book readers, the report said. Enterprises are looking for a document format that can be used on all readers, and none is yet available, Gartner said.

Likewise, IT managers are also facing pressure to install social software suites, and as in the case of Web 2.0 technology, they should resist its adoption without a clear plan for its use, the report said.

Green IT initiatives have also received a great deal of media attention lately, and Gartner recommends that IT organizations should begin to track green metrics.

But the researchers warned that benefits from green IT will only be felt over the long term. And while Gartner said the impact of climate change on IT is outside the scope of its report, the effect could be transformational.

Beyond e-books, social software suites and Green IT, Gartner also identified a number of technologies whose mainstream adoption remains distant — but which enterprise IT should learn about.

Those include RFID, 3-D printing, human augmentation, mobile robots, home health monitoring, wireless power, and quantum computing, the report said.

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