Which will come first: the end of the world on December 21, 2012, or one-fifth of organizations dumping their IT assets?
I don't know about the first item, but the Mayans certainly didn't seem to see the cloud computing wave coming. But Gartner says it did, and issued a prediction that by 2012, 20 percent of businesses will own no IT assets. Gartner says this is a result of cloud and virtualization, and extends to client systems as well -- employees will be using their own personal desktops, notebooks, and devices on corporate networks. In other words, all third-party ownership:
The need for computing hardware, either in a data center or on an employee's desk, will not go away. However, if the ownership of hardware shifts to third parties, then there will be major shifts throughout every facet of the IT hardware industry. For example, enterprise IT budgets will either be shrunk or reallocated to more-strategic projects; enterprise IT staff will either be reduced or reskilled to meet new requirements, and/or hardware distribution will have to change radically to meet the requirements of the new IT hardware buying points.
No IT assets in two years? That prediction seems pretty extreme, even for the most enthusiastic cloud-embracing enterprises. Perhaps one out of five companies will be running a majority of their applications in the cloud by then.
It's a very plausible scenario for startups and small companies, however. As noted before at this blogsite (see "The $80 data center: cheap computing or head in the cloud?", small companies can tap into data center power for just a few dollars a month. That's disruptive. And, perhaps larger organizations with a lot of IT will even start making services available to outsiders. But there's a lot of IT out there within organizations, and we'll continue to see more, not less.
(Thanks to InfoWorld's John Brodkin for the pointer to this release.)