Few months back in the month of June, I had wailed against the increasing marketing hype and the resulting over-expectations set on Cloud Computing which IMO is a powerful concept but yet is still at its nascent stage. (read my blog post titled “Cloud Computing – Is this the case study for Marketing gone out of hand?“). Then in the very next month of July, Gartner came out with their much anticipated annual “Gartner’s Hype Cycle Special Report for 2009” which in some subtle way examines the maturity of emerging technologies.
(For those unfamiliar with what Hype Cycle means, you may want to refer to this Wikipedia description. Coined by Gartner, the Hype Cycle hypothesizes that any emerging technology typically goes through an initial period of over-enthusiasm and popularity which in some sense results in inflated expectations from the emerging technology. After this initial period, the hype around this emerging technology typically falls possibly because of disenchantment. Few technologies recover from this phase of disenchantment with a practicality/sanity of usage taking over.)
As the 2009 Hype curve shows below – Gartner feels that Cloud Computing has now reached the peak of the hype cycle and based on their theory it many now be entering into the depths of disenchantment.
2009 - Gartner Hype Cycle (Source: Gartner)
Personally, I usually take any of the Gartner data with lots of salt and many a times also have ended up pondering upon their validity. However in this case I would seriously like to believe (or like to pray) that they are right especially in their assumptions about Cloud Computing. Because if they are – I am betting that the real work with proper practical expectations using Cloud Computing would start now. This is the time when many of its potential users would try to cipher through the confusing hype; take baby and practical steps in its adaptation; and let the top spin to see how its application spans out for their needs.
Going forward beyond the peak of the hype, as I am looking into my crystal ball – I am predicting that the usage/adaption of Cloud Computing across products or IT infrastructure would go through the following five stages (see figure below). My assumption of these five stages are derived from what I have typically seen how many other technologies/business processes (e.g. IP Telephony, Enterprise Automation, etc.) have found their way to mass/mature adaption. Note that in the figure below, the curved blue line in the backdrop indicates the Gartner Hype Curve.
Beyond Hype – Predictions about Cloud Computing Adaptations
To describe these stages in more details -
- Adaption Phase - This phase (and we are well into this phase from Cloud Computing perspective as we speak) is where organizations would start taking the initial steps in looking at the application of Cloud Computing paradigm within their products or infrastructure. Products/applications hosted on traditional infrastructure are getting moved on Public Cloud. SaaS-enablement of existing products is another example. Using Virtualization to create in-house Cloud environment is another activity which many organizations are seriously looking at or many have also started implementing.
- Stabilization Phase - As with the adaption of any new technology, the teething problems would need to be overcomed. This is the phase where the myths/hypes/over-expectations associated with the technology would meet with the real-world realities. Various risks associated with the new adaptation would start cropping up and would need to start getting mitigated. To do this certain applications would have to be re-architected; existing business processes would need to be remodeled to find a win-win situations with the business needs and advantages which the Cloud Computing platforms would possibly bring in. I personally believe that this phase would be the most critical of all. Adaptations of many new technologies have struggled in the past in this phase for a long periods and sometimes resulting in the ball getting completely dropped altogether too. From Cloud Computing perspective, I am predicting that the concept itself is going to evolve a lot as organizations go through this phase.
- Measurement Phase - Once the adaptation and implementation of any technology stabilizes within any product or organization – the natural next step is to start measuring the day-to-day health and throughput. This is the stage where the Service Level Agreements (SLA) definitions and its measurements is going to start becoming important (as compared to usage of SLAs in the previous stages). At this stage, the measurements associated with uptime, disaster recovery, scalability, response time, etc. would start giving an idea about how well the implementation of Cloud Computing has gone.
- Optimization Phase - Measurements would naturally lead to optimization of the implementation – be it from an architecture perspective or simply from the basic notion of how Cloud Computing should continued to be used. It would be too presumptuous of me (or anyone else for that matter) to start predicting how the optimization would play out for Cloud Computing today. It is just too difficult to predict today. However, like all technologies, cloud computing would evolve heavily (for better) in this particular phase.
- Management Phase – This is the final phase where success stories associated with successful Cloud Computing implementations would start becoming a regular norm. At and beyond this stage, the implementations of Cloud Computing would continue to focus on regular Management which would include activities such as coordination, reducing regular expenditure, productivity improvement, improving functional statuses and satisfaction.
Please note that I am not suggesting that the above phases are always going to sequential; however it is more from lines of trying to figure out the order of the stages of implementation or even the maturity of the implementation. For example, it certainly does not make any sense to start measuring SLAs even before the implementation has stabilized. In void of such staged approach, I have seen that many a times many false results can dampen the potential which a new technology or paradigm can possibly bring in. And as I have said it before, Cloud Computing is certainly one such powerful platform. However, as many of you would agree with me that even a powerful platform can render itself ineffective if not implemented in a proper manner.
Would love to hear your thoughts/comments.