I have recently been involved in a number of vendor events in which the keynote focused on the massive change that cloud computing is supposedly bringing to our industry, only to be followed by feedback from customers, embarrassingly sometimes from the same stage, making it clear that that senior IT professionals are generally not swallowing the hype at the moment.
While people are interested, it is clear that most regard developments in cloud services as just an evolution of hosting and outsourcing - not necessarily without value, but to be thought of in a similar way when it comes to due diligence and decision making. Capabilities of service providers to one side, from an internal policy perspective, if you have previously shied away from making extensive use of hosted services for reasons of security, compliance, trust, etc, then it is unlikely that introducing what is in effect just a variation on a 30-year-old model will change this. On the other hand, if you're the kind of organisation that has always been comfortable with the use of third party hosted services, then, while you might find some of the new commercial models and the concept of elasticity interesting in some scenarios, you are unlikely to regard cloud computing as the revolutionary concept that is being peddled in keynotes and PowerPoint by the vendor community.
I personally think it is a bit of a shame that vendors feel they cannot take a more balanced and measured approach. The big danger is that over-positioning can easily lead to customers dismissing everything being said and missing out on some of the opportunities that the collection of technologies and services currently brought together under the cloud computing umbrella represent. For those that look at developments objectively, there really are some good things happening that throw up interesting opportunities to streamline IT delivery if you can figure out where and how the new stuff fits.
While there continues to be incongruity between what vendors are telling us customers need, want, and are doing, and what the customers themselves are actually saying, the credibility gap that exists at the moment between cloud marketeers and IT decision makers will continue.
Having said this, the disjoint does present some interesting opportunities for mischief making. If you want to read about one of those, and an interesting issue that occurred to me at one of the abovementioned events, see 'There's no escaping the cloud'.
By Dale Vile, research director at Freeform Dynamics.