Is cloud computing hype, or something riskier?

Beware not only the cloud hype, but also overreaching by cloud vendors that may cause crashes over the coming year.
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer

Ask a group of eight IT industry analysts what 2010 will bring, and you will get 100 different answers.

In the latest BriefingsDirect podcast, ZDNet compatriot Dana Gardner attempted just that, and one topic seem to rise to top the list above all others: cloud computing.

Is it because cloud computing is lighter than air, or is it really a tectonic plate shift?  While four of us (including myself) put cloud on top of the list, two others poured cold water on the trend. (Two others did not mention cloud as a major 2010 trend.)

Jason Bloomberg, for one, says most larger enterprises are not ready for the cloud. "I just don't see cloud computing striking it big in 2010," he said. "When we talk to enterprise architects, we see a lot of curiosity and some dabbling. But, at the enterprise scale, we see too much resistance in terms of security and other issues to put a lot of investment into it." Smaller organizations, on the other hand, are more inclined to sign on to the cloud.

Tony Baer also pooh-poohed the rise of cloud in 2010, noting that cloud is "not going to be the 'new normal' [as I said it would be in my set of predictions]." Expect to see the same demons we wrestled with outsourcing over the years, Tony said. "We're going to see this year an uptake of all the management overhead of dealing with cloud and virtualization, the same way we saw with outsourcing years back, where we thought we'd just throw labor costs over the wall."

Brad Shimmin, who sees a banner year ahead for cloud, nevertheless echoed Jason's view that cloud will be more likely seen among smaller enterprises. With vendors offering hybrid, premise/cloud, and appliance/service offerings, "it's going to really let companies, particularly those in the small and medium business (SMB) space, work around IT constraints without sacrificing the control and ownership of key processes and data, which in my mind is the key, and has been one of the limiting factors of cloud this year."

Dave Linthicum, captain of the cloud, is bullish on the concept, but warns that 2010 may see its share of thunderheads. He foresees cloud crashes making headlines this year.

"We've got two things occurring right now," Dave said. "We've got a massive move into the cloud.... We have the cloud providers trying to scale up, and perhaps they’ve never scaled up to the levels that they are going to be expected to scale to in 2010. That's ripe for disaster. A lot of these cloud providers are going to over extend and over sell, and they're going to crash. Performance is going to go down when the Internet first took off. ...They're growing very quickly, they are not putting as much R&D into what these cloud systems should do, and ultimately that's going to result in some disasters."

(Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod and Podcast.com. Read a full transcript or download a copy.)

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