Fully Clouded by 2012?


A few weeks ago when I blogged about the end of IT as we know it, I predicted that virtualization and cloud computing would bring an end to IT infrastructure at small and mid-sized organizations, who would outsource these resources to regional dedicated data centers. And I still expect this change to roll out over the next 10 years or so.

But now it seems my view is starting to represent the slow boat in this matter. Gartner just issued a report that predicts that more than 20 percent of enterprises will have no IT infrastructure at all as early as 2012. To see such a rapid changeover in such a short time would be nothing short of incredible, which leads me to think that Gartner is looking at more than just the confluence of the cloud and virtualization.

And indeed, as you drill down into Gartner's analysis, it's clear that the company sees a massive shift of IT resources from in-house infrastructure to third-party infrastructure-as-a-service providers on the cloud. But that would still leave a fairly sophisticated infrastructure responsible for getting data from the cloud and onto employee desktops, no? Well, not if more and more employees start using their own devices -- home-based desktops, laptops, SmartPhones, take your pick -- as their primary means of collaboration, which appears to be happening more rapidly than cloud infrastructure is being provisioned.

All of this portends major changes across the IT spectrum, Gartner says. Enterprise IT budgets will shift from general-purpose computing to more strategic or goal-oriented projects. IT vendors will be tapped to migrate legacy resources onto the cloud. IT staff will need retraining in the new hardware/software distribution environment -- and the list goes on.

This signals a rather chaotic start to the new decade, if the company's timeline proves to be correct. And on that score, I think Gartner has overreached a bit. As EbizQ blogger Phil Wainewright pointed out, there are still many questions surrounding the cloud's efficacy as an enterprise solution. High-profile service interruptions, increasing network latencies and security concerns still relegate the cloud to a test-bed or non-critical application environment in the eyes of many IT managers. It seems highly doubtful that many organizations will feel so comfortable with the cloud in two years that they will entrust their very livelihoods to it.

In this business, though, we should never say never. If the transition to full cloud infrastructure is going to happen that fast, then those currently working in IT should prepare themselves for a pretty wild ride.