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Has cloud computing been a failed revolution?

Bernard Golden | June 5, 2014
Talk to IT personnel, or study what they look up on Google, and you may think they're done with cloud computing. Talk to analysts, though -- or, more importantly, end users -- and you'll hear a different story.

Speaking at a recent conference, Salesforce.com's Peter Coffee put up a provocative slide: The number of Google searches for the term "cloud computing." It proves, he says, that people no longer find cloud computing compelling.

Google searches for "cloud computing" took off in 2008, peaked in 2011 and have tailed off since then.

You might be tempted to think that people aren't interested in cloud computing because they've got it all figured out and have moved on to new challenges.

The reduced lack of interest in cloud computing notwithstanding, I certainly don't think that cloud computing adoption is finished. Far from it. In fact, I'd say most IT organizations have barely started working with cloud computing, much less completed their journey.

Gartner's Lydia Leong echoed this perspective in a couple funny tweets, plaintively noting that, far from being finished with cloud implementations, many IT personnel don't even really understand cloud computing.

As Gartner Analyst Lydia Leong sees it, companies haven't been implementing the cloud because they don't really understand the cloud.

When It Comes to Cloud Computing, Most Companies Aren't Trying
As Leong notes, many IT organizations fail to understand the key characteristics of cloud computing and, as a result, fall far short of actually operating real cloud environments. While she didn't detail the issues she found in the discussions she's had with IT professionals, I'd bet they revolve around clients failing to grasp the importance of self-service, easy elasticity and resource usage-based billing.

Simply put, many traditional IT organizations view these characteristics as optional add-ons that some providers have put into operation - namely, Amazon Web Services - but not really critical as part of internal cloud implementations. Moreover, too many of them view automated infrastructure as something that will improve the internal workings of IT operations, not as something relevant to the company at large.

You can see the results of this attitude in the rather lackadaisical rollout of internal infrastructure automation. The 451 Group recently published the results of a survey regarding server automation and configuration (below). It found that more than 25 percent of all respondents had no implementation plan at all, while nearly one-third were six or more months away from providing server automation.

Companies aren't rushing to implement cloud infrastructure, the 451 Group finds.

Another survey, presented at the recent OpenStack Summit, also makes for sober reading. In the section on scale of implementation (below), you can see that the vast majority of implementations have fewer than 50 nodes. This indicates prototype experimentation rather than production use.

Meanwhile, most cloud infrastructure implementations aren't very big.

Summed up, progress for internal IT groups implementing cloud computing is mixed at best - and could be interpreted as tech departments not really trying.

 

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