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Can the Cloud Return Us to Growth?

by Daryl Plummer  |  May 24, 2009  |  9 Comments

In a recent article published at, HP executive Russ Daniels penned an interesting piece called A Cloud In Every Garage. I have to admit that on reading the title, I thought I was in for a train wreck. The article looked to be positioned to follow the same mis-guided notions of “a cloud” as just another piece of infrastructure that is becoming so commonplace with vendors and the customers who listen to them (i.e. the customers who will follow them like lemmings right off the cliff into the next generation of vendor lock-in). I sat back to read it and was ready to write a rebuttal that explained that if cloud computing is just about next generation infrastructure (and buying into vendor “clouds”) then what is the big deal? I mean, advanced Data Centers have done that for quite a while now. And even more, virtualization customers have had this capability for some time as well.

But, I had to put down the pen. Not only does Russ know that cloud computing is not about “clouds” and “virtual server infrastructure”, but he also gets that new ways of opening up innovation and growth are right in front of us. And that is the premise that the article actually lays down. Russ gets at the point that while use of standard virtualized technology underlies the concept of cloud computing, the real value comes from all of us seeking to use shared cloud services on massively shared and standard public cloud infrastructure to gain economic and efficiency advantages while refocusing most of our attention on our core-competencies. He uses the automobile industry as an example of how mass-production, standardization, and entrepreneurship can be used to grow business and to create new capabilities for those who need them. He says it all in the following quote:

In my view, the ability to facilitate innovation and entrepreneurship in this new model is one of the most promising ways to ignite the next wave of economic growth. We can no more see the full impact of the cloud than Henry Ford foresaw the impact of his desire to produce more cars in less time.

— Russ Daniels

You go, boy.

Now I won’t say the article delivered on the depth of promise that I think Russ is implying but neither does it settle for the standard mis-guided mantras. I have found that out of all the major vendors, HP has one of the best visions of what cloud computing is and can mean to the world out there. Their real problem is in turning that vision into a set of offerings that they can sell to their customer base without compromising the vision. No easy feat.

But then they keep swinging with notions like those in the article. It really sets up a very nice “industrialization of IT” kind of theme and I was turned around – loved where it was going. Even if it did start looking a little like an HP ad in the latter half of the piece, it was still a refreshing take on a subject (cloud computing) that I fear is spiraling towards a mediocre return on a promising investment in a new style of computing.

Those enticed by cloud computing should aspire to something more than just an incremental technology evolution led by IT. Thanks, Russ, for the aspirations.

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Category: cloud  emerging-phenomena  emerging-trends  service-orientation  

Tags: cloud-computing  cloud-services  clouds  economic  growth  hp  industrialization  russ-daniels  

Daryl C. Plummer
Managing VP & Gartner Fellow
18 years at Gartner
35 years IT industry

Daryl Plummer is vice president, chief of Research and chief Gartner Fellow. Mr. Plummer manages the Gartner Fellows Program, which is designed to allow senior analysts the opportunity to explore new research ideas and to elevate… Read Full Bio

Thoughts on Can the Cloud Return Us to Growth?

  1. […] This post was Twitted by DarylPlummer – […]

  2. Ryan Martens says:

    Thanks Daryl for point this one out. The cloud pitches, webinars and conferences are getting so numerous that the noise is deafening. This is a vision to hold for IT as we need to enable some amazing innovation in the way we live on this planet.

  3. Absolutely! Thanks for the comment. We have to separate the contenders from the pretenders.

  4. Naithan says:

    Daryl, what are your thoughts on the maturity models for cloud? The reason why enterprise seems to have a difficulty in planning for cloud is because of inability to measure and manage it. My theory is (for a myriad of reasons) that clouds usefulness and applications will mature in the .edu first and not enterprise. What say you?

  5. […] Daryl Plummer from Gartner also did a great job recently describing the real point of cloud computing as he reviews Russ Daniels recent Forbes article. Russ says: […]

  6. […] terms of trust around security and vendor lock-in, there’s clear potential in the enterprise – driving new revenue streams, outsourcing IT services, and the reconciliation of traditional SOA with the cloud and other IT […]

  7. Daryl Plummer says:

    Please do share the post.

  8. Daryl Plummer says:

    Naithan wrote

    My response is that cloud maturity has to be viewed in terms of what part of cloud compting you are interested in. The maturity of cloud services that require trust but that have no governance will lag that of services that fulfill individual or group needs that govern themselves or do not require a lot of trust. In EDU, you have more people monitoring each other and therefore more governance. I agree with your thesis.

  9. Alok Misra says:

    Hi Daryl,

    Good point, once again. I agree with you about “aspiring to something more than just an incremental technology evolution led by IT.” It’s very interesting that most organizations that come to Navatar Group for help, usually ask two questions.

    1) Is a good fit for my app
    2) How much would it cost to move our product into the Cloud

    They go against our advice to re-evaluate their customer segments, what their customers would want, the new possibilities in the cloud, their financial model and their ability to change. Seems like there’s some work to be done in educating these organizations. Or, maybe, it will take an innovator like Henry Ford to actually show everyone what the possibilities can be.

    In any event, I admire the good work that you’re doing.


    Alok Misra, Principal
    Navatar Group

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