Keep an eye on cloud computing

* Cloud Computing Confusion Leads to Opportunity

There's some confusion about what exactly constitutes cloud computing, but one thing experts tend to agree on is the evolutionary effect this will have on IT. A new report from Gartner points to the opportunity to shape the relationship among consumers of IT services, those who use IT services and those who sell them.

The report, “Cloud Computing Confusion Leads to Opportunity,” defines cloud computing as a style where massively scalable IT-related capabilities are provided as a service to multiple external customers. You’ve probably heard it called utility computing, software-as-a-service and application service providers. The factors making such a model viable today are commoditization and standardization of technologies, virtualization and service-oriented architects, and the growth of the Internet.

“During the past 15 years, a continuing trend toward IT industrialization has grown in popularity as IT services delivered via hardware, software and people are becoming repeatable and usable by a wide range of customers and service providers,” said Daryl Plummer, managing vice president and Gartner Fellow.

What does this mean for IT leaders? Eventually users can focus on what the service delivers rather than how they are implemented or hosted. The possibilities include procuring computational facilities on demand, storage services to software to video.

Gartner says consumer-focused vendors have more mature services than enterprise-oriented vendors, though all can benefit. Branding is one opportunity for vendors – imagine Wal-Mart leasing its core

“Companies invest billions of dollars in building up their core competencies, much of which goes into IT,” says David Mitchell Smith, vice president and Gartner Fellow. “If companies could lease their core competencies to other companies then they would capitalize on both brands, driving revenue both in the consumer-facing market and the business service market in the way that Amazon has done with technology.”

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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