Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Watching cloud computing trends for 2010: the vision, customer reality, & downstream impact

We’ve crossed into a new decade (or not, if you’re a numbers purist), and it seems to be an appropriate time for a little reflection, and maybe a chance to get some feel for where things are headed in the 2010 for IT operations, especially as they look at what cloud computing is going to mean for them.

Last year, I rattled off a Top 10 list of Top 10 lists. This year, I, for one, am suffering from a bit of Year-End Top 10 Prediction Fatigue, so I’ll hold off on that for the moment. Instead, I thought I’d check the stats from this Data Center Dialog blog as a way to get a bead on things that people have been interested in here. That way I’m not just pulling commentary out of thin air. Plus, it’s more scientific that way, right?

So, to mark Data Center Dialog’s a-bit-more-than-one-year anniversary, here's a look back at the most popular posts over the past 6 months. My guess is it gives some indication of what people will be considering for the initial months of 2010 as well.

Beyond definitions: looking for vision…and then practical cloud considerations

It’s probably no surprise that the most popular new post here was also the one that explained a bit about the biggest news story to involve us (now former) Cassatt folks: the acquisition of the Cassatt assets and expertise by CA in June. I provided a bit of commentary on the acquisition just before taking an extended few weeks off in Berlin prior to starting my current gig at CA. It’s not too far-fetched to predict that in the months ahead there will be lots more details to talk about regarding what we’ve all been doing at CA since then. (That’s an easy prediction, for sure.)
Fumble! What not to do at a cloud computing conference – The endlessly repeated ploy of starting panel sessions at cloud computing events with the question, “So what is cloud computing?” finally took its toll on me in November. The result was a bit of a (popular) rant about why the people working on cloud computing need to move on to much more useful questions. At least that’s the only way I’m going to be able to sit through another cloud computing conference.
Judging by the numbers, I think you’re with me.

Not that talking about definitions was bad. 2009 was a year in which the definitions of cloud computing (public/private, internal/external, hybrid, and the like) came into focus as the discussion evolved throughout the year. To prove the point, the most popular entry of the last 6 months was the same entry that was the most popular of the first 6 months of the year: Are internal clouds bogus? That post was followed closely by one that described the shifts in the discussion toward hybrid clouds – and the speed with which the combination of public and private cloud computing was likely to become a reality (answer: it’ll take a bit; there are some missing pieces still). In fact, my highlight blog entry that tracked the evolution of the private cloud from the front row seat I’d had was also a favorite.

So, yes, there was a place for the definitional conversation. But real-world information about what customers are doing now was in great demand (and still is, say the stats). This pragmatism is heartening and it propelled reader interest in the entry I did on the 451 Group’s cloud computing customer panel at their ICE conference, alongside a post from earlier in the year listing actual customer questions that our field team had been getting about private clouds. There’s nothing quite like getting things from the horse’s mouth.

Here’s something that was perhaps part of that same trend about getting in better sync with reality: measurement of what is actually going on in data centers (even when it’s showing a trend toward upholding long-established patterns of inefficiency) was also of interest. I saw that as good news, especially since we also had lots of interest in our post from earlier in 2009 discussing the fact that many data center managers don’t actually know what their servers are doing. The first step to a solution is understanding what the problem is, right?

Notable Data Center Dialog interviews: Steve Hamm of BusinessWeek, Bill Coleman, and Mark Bramfitt

Some of the Data Center Dialog interviews (a feature I started at the beginning of 2009 with Al Gillen of IDC) were a few of the most popular posts in the second half of the year. The most read interview? It was one in which I turned the tables on a member of the so-called mainstream media and interviewed him: BusinessWeek’s Steve Hamm had some interesting insights on Silicon Valley in general. It didn’t hurt that he linked to the interview from his blog, too, of course. Interestingly, he has now done what many journalists are doing out of necessity -- changed careers. Steve noted via Twitter a few weeks back that he’s now at IBM.

Also interesting to our readers were the conversations I published about two folks well-known in the world of IT management talking about their Next Big Things. Bill Coleman, my former CEO, gave his take on where cloud computing is now (just Version 1.0, he said) and what he’s working on after Cassatt. Mark Bramfitt talked about his move from a leading role in PG&E’s data center energy efficiency programs to private industry in a two-part interview just published at the end of December. Both Bill and Mark included some candid thoughts on what’s gone well and not so well in their previous roles.

The longer-term implications of cloud computing
We also saw interest in some of the posts pondering what cloud computing might mean to the industry as a whole. Will it mean less will be spent on IT, or, in fact, help accelerate growth? And what about the oft-noted bogeyman of automation? Will the cloud finally mean that automation takes center stage without being cast as the human-hating Skynet from the Terminator flicks? That topic generated some interest for sure.

And, of course, Twitter…
And, as you might expect, our readers were in alignment with the rest of the industry (world?) in its interest in Twitter in the past few months. I used VMworld as a case study of 7 ways that IT conferences can be improved by using Twitter – and 2 ways it makes them worse. That one seemed especially popular with folks who found us via – you guessed it – Twitter.

So what does this all mean for 2010? I have no idea. But I’d bet a couple of these trends will continue to be important. The discussion around how private, public, and hybrid cloud computing will work will certainly continue. I’m expecting, however, that it becomes more focused around the day-to-day practicalities that end user IT departments need to know.

I’ll do my best to make sure I continue to interview folks of interest in the industry with useful perspectives that will benefit IT operations and those doing big thinking about the many ins and outs of cloud computing.

And, Data Center Dialog will continue to be a place to get a pulse on topics at the forefront of the way data centers – and IT in general -- are being run and managed. As customers continue their focus on cloud computing, this blog will too. Thanks for being part of the dialog.


Unknown said...

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IT Services said...

Third parties will increasingly focus on adapting data center technologies to cloud environments. For example, Riverbed Technologies is making the core services provided by its hardware appliance into a virtual system that can be used in the cloud.