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The uneven future: 2 telling views of cloud adoption

Bernard Golden | July 22, 2014
Contrary to what case studies tell you, most IT departments aren't quite ready to support cloud infrastructure. The more you think about it, the easier it is to understand why.

My last couple of columns have addressed cloud adoption patterns by IT organizations. Has Cloud Computing Been A Failed Revolution discussed the seeming ennui regarding cloud computing on the part of IT groups that they seem less interested in the field, despite the belief on the part of vendors that the cloud represents tomorrow's technology infrastructure. Most recently, The Real Cloud Computing Revolution described three real-world examples of companies using cloud computing to solve problems they couldn't have addressed in the infrastructure models of traditional IT.

This week, two sets of information brought to mind William Gibson's well-known aphorism "The future is already here it's just not very evenly distributed." Despite evidence such as that outlined in my most recent blog post, each describes a future of IT as little changed from a decade ago mostly on-premises, mostly static with little possible resource elasticity and mostly unable to support the kind of innovation described in that post.

In other words, the future of IT is already here, but it's being carried on in areas far removed from the traditional IT settings. The key question: Will those traditional settings ever catch up, or will they be abandoned to become a kind of technology rustbelt reminiscent of the post-industrial outcomes seen in today's Detroit?

Forrester: A Tale of Two Infrastructures

First, a Forrester report. Despite its title, The Public Cloud Market Is Now in Hypergrowth, which implies that public cloud computing is becoming a dominant player, it actually presents an infrastructure message that paraphrases of the opening lines of A Tale of Two Cities: It was the cloudiest of times, it was the most traditional IT of times.

Forrester surveyed a large number of IT personnel and outlined findings that show that cloud computing is growing rapidly. Over the next five years, SaaS will experience compound annual growth rate of 14 percent, reflecting the fact that it grew so rapidly over the past few years that future growth will be somewhat muted, while IaaS will experience a much stronger 38 percent CAGR.

On the face of it, the theme of the report is that cloud computing is picking up steam. However, delve deeper into the survey numbers and a different message emerges.

As one datapoint, the report notes that SaaS has grown quite rapidly in the recent past, in part by displacing on-premises applications. For the most recent three years, the percentage of companies reporting, for application types such as ERP and CRM, that they have replaced an on-premises application package with a SaaS offering has averaged something like this:

  • 2011: 3 to 5 percent
  • 2012: 5 to 7 percent
  • 2013: 12 to 14 percent


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