Gartner reckoned it's identified 14 alternative models for the delivery of IT that it said will "completely transform the IT market in the next five years."

Advancements in technology have resulted in new ways of delivering, packaging and procuring IT, said the research company, and these alternative models could dramatically change how IT is accounted for. The company recommended that IT leaders examine these models or business units may go ahead without them.

Gartner's alternative IT delivery models include:

  • business process utilities
  • infrastructure utilities
  • storage as a service
  • grid computing
  • communications as a service
  • utility computing
  • capacity on demand
  • remote management services
  • software as a service
  • web platforms
  • community source
  • software streaming
  • software-based appliances
  • user-owned devices.

At the highest level, said Gartner, alternative delivery models are approaches to acquire, package and deliver IT in non-traditional ways. Traditional methods of IT acquisition and delivery are wrapped in well-honed internal processes whereby IT develops or acquires technology (hardware or software), deploys it, supports it and retires it. Even when part of the IT service is outsourced or handled offshore, the provider runs the day-to-day service and may own part of the assets. The client IT function retains most of the risk and responsibility for the overall design and management of the technology life cycle.

"Traditional practices of technology life cycle ownership, where the organisation buys, configures, manages, optimises and retires technology for its own use, are being questioned as to their efficiency and effectiveness, so alternative delivery models for technology and services are emerging," said research VP Mark Margevicius. "Alternative delivery and acquisition models include new channels for acquisition, use and payment. In some organisations, alternative models involve only users and business units, bypassing the IT function."

Gartner reckoned that enthusiasm for the alternatives will only intensify, and over the next five years, a broad set of new and alternative IT delivery models will become mainstream. It also reckoned that its list of alternative models will mutate as markets, technologies, processes and customer change.

Gartner analysts said more-aggressive customers may already be using a given model for an extended period of time, and as such, may view that model as traditional. For the most part, said the company, these "outliers of adoption" are not mainstream, thereby warranting inclusion on the list.

"Today’s environment enables a level of IT decoupling and modularisation never before available," said VP Claudio Da Rold. "Technologies such as virtualisation and Web 2.0, as well as mobility and ubiquitous computing, allow for extraordinary changes in how IT and business services are delivered. This accelerated change and the associated market excitement will affect the business and technical spheres. Drivers in both areas are converging to create a new market order where traditional and alternative acquisition and delivery models coexist."

Gartner's written a report about it, entitled "Alternative Delivery Models: A Sea of New Opportunities and Threats", which it said includes the insights of over 40 analysts and over 30 pieces of research. More details are available here.