There really should be some sort of financial corollary to the Gartner technology adoption hype cycle. Surely I'm not the only one who has noticed that as a technology edges toward its peak of inflated expectations, the financial metrics logic sounds something like the business plan outlined by the "underpants gnomes" on "South Park":
Phase 1: Collect Underwear
Phase 2: ?
Phase 3: Profit (or, for IT, ROI)
The logic is so obvious, no one even stops to ask about the actual proof of it. But within a year or so, as that technology slips into the trough of disillusionment, you usually start to see serious questions about whether the new technology is actually delivering that assumed ROI or business value.
I think that time has come for cloud computing and its "as-a-service" buddies.
For example, last month, CIO Insight shared the results of a December cloud infrastructure survey querying 100 senior-level IT pros. Among its findings? Fifty-seven percent either did not know or could not quantify their ROI on cloud computing (see slide 8 on the slide show). The survey also found that many more than half had cloud infrastructure resources they either had never used or rarely used.
I'm also seeing more articles about the topic. Recently, Gartner analyst Daryl Plummer kicked off a series on Financial Times that promises to help business leaders determine the economic impact of cloud computing-including whether it really will help save money. Cloud/SOA/Integration expert David Linthicum is writing a Microsoft-commissioned series on the ROI of cloud computing and PaaS that's running on Forbes' AdVoice. And last week, E-Commerce News ran a two-part series, written by GlassHouse Technologies Principal Consultant Dick Benton, explaining how to calculate ROI for cloud infrastructure.
I guess you could say it's time for us to get our collective "heads out of the clouds" when it comes to cloud computing (ba-da-bum!) and take a look at the reality.
If you're not familiar with The Open Group, it's a vendor- and technology-neutral consortium. The organization was actually ahead of the curve on the ROI issue: Last year, it issued a free whitepaper on building an ROI for cloud computing, and even wrote an abbreviated version for CIO.com called "8 Ways to Measure Cloud ROI."
The Open Group is asking for input from end-user organizations of all sizes that have tried cloud computing. The purpose of the survey is to provide more insight into the financial and business impact of cloud computing, so it includes questions about your decision-making process, business requirements, and outcomes and initial experiences measuring ROI.
Surveys like this are what will help organizations get really "grounded" (again, I say, "ba-da-bum!") on the potential financial wins and pitfalls of cloud computing, so please consider taking the survey if you've been involved with a cloud project. The Open Group has promised to share the results of the survey, which will close sometime in mid-March.