Huntsman Post

“Cloud Computing” Faces a Transformative Future, Says Well-Regarded Gartner Tech Analyst Thomas Bittman

By Christine Arrington

Somehow it felt like a “Bull Market moment,” when keynote speaker Thomas Bittman described the outlook for “cloud computing” at the final dinner event for the Partners in Business Information Technology Conference on Feb. 8, at Utah State University.

Déjà vu?

Thomas Bittman

Photo by: Sterling Morris

Mr. Bittman works for Gartner, Inc., which is one of the world’s leading information technology research and advisory companies, based in Stamford, Conn., with some 4,800 employees and clients in more than 80 countries around the world. When Gartner speaks on technology trends, usually based on its own research, lots of people listen.

A member of Gartner’s Senior Research Board for three years, Mr. Bittman focuses on areas such as cloud computing, private cloud computing, and virtualization. He spoke to a large crowd of IT professionals, students, and others in the Taggart Student Center ballroom at the end of the daylong conference.

It didn’t feel any more like the trough of the economy when Mr. Bittman described what has been happening and what is about to happen with “cloud computing;” he defines it as “a style of computing where scalable and elastic information technology enabled capabilities are delivered as a service to customers using internet technologies.”

Another definition is the practice of using a network of remote servers hosted on the internet to store, manage and process data, rather than using a local server or a personal computer.

Mr. Bittman said that throughout this economic downturn, nearly 100 percent of large companies, and many midsized companies, have been adding “virtualization” capabilities; this is the kind of software overlay from market leader VMWare and others that allows for much more efficient and cost-effective use of servers and other hardware, reportedly saving some 50-70 percent of costs. Gartner, then, helps clients lay out a roadmap for moving from virtualization to “private cloud computing.”

There could have been a drumroll before Mr. Bittman’s next “Bull Market” announcement: 78 percent of attendees at the 2011 Gartner Conference said they definitely will pursue a “private cloud computing strategy” by 2014.

This revolution is not focused primarily on cost savings, Mr. Bittman says, but rather on speed and agility. He predicts a coming “Darwinian” scramble during which a lot of disintermediation will occur, and numerous players in this space will rise and die. The race will go to the swift and agile.

He described four different types of “cloud computing,” including private, community, public, and hybrid. He also stressed that not everything can run in the cloud; it's ideal for businesses built on “interfaces and independence,” rather than businesses built on “intimacy and integration.”

Finally, he said it’s not just about cloud computing services from a few mega-providers, such as Google, RackSpace, GoGrid, and Amazon. Instead, a kind of revolution in information technology professionals’ skills is needed as private and hybrid cloud computing rises, bringing IT professionals into a more central role in the organization. To play that new role, they will need to add strategic business expertise and better communication skills on top of their current technology training, so they can participate more centrally in the needed transition to a whole new kind of computing.

Subtext: the Bear is dead!