Talk to most vendors, service providers or analyst and it won't be too long before the talk is of how cloud computing is going to reshape the landscape of computing.
Just a couple of weeks ago, Gartner proclaimed that 20 percent of companies were ready to ditch their IT departments in the rush towards cloud deployment and last week;CommVault said that 50 percent of enterprises were ready to move to cloud storage.
Yet talk to businesses and this enthusiasm for third-party storage or computing is not being matched. This reticence has been confirmed by Forrester, whose survey on attitudes towards cloud storage finds that just three percent of companies have gone down that route, with just three percent more having firm plans to do so. It's true that another five percent also hope to go down that route in an unspecified time period but it's an indication that the claims about the penetration for cloud computing have been extremely optimistic.
Let it be said that this is not a new phenomenon: there have been plenty of examples of technologies that have been over-hyped by vendors only to find little take-up - the question is whether cloud computing - and by extension, cloud storage, is going to be one of those ideas that disappear.
I think not; although I do believe that the vendors - and Gartner for that matter - have been ludicrously optimistic. The move towards cloud would require a massive change to the way that most enterprises run their IT systems.
There will be businesses who move to a cloud-based model because it offers the right degree of flexibility: it helps them cope with fast-changing storage requirements and, despite what many enterprises think, it does offer a high degree of security.
But there are some big downsides to it: notably the issue of latency, something that most cloud providers have to deal with. I spoke to a manager at a major hosting company and he said that latency could be a killer for an application - a large database with a laggy connection would be like running a Porsche with a Robin Reliant engine," he said. He suggested that users accustomed to RAID array speeds may find cloud storage too laggy.
Maybe so for now, but I suspect that the landscape is going to change too. Perhaps offices will move closer to data centres; certainly bigger pipes are going to reduce some of the issues. Companies will do as Mike Manos suggested when Techworld interviewed him and rethink the way that applications are handled - leaving some data to be stored in the cloud and some within the enterprise.
We're entering a new world and there will be a massive overhaul of the way that companies operate and use technology. At the moment, it's like we're wandering in a new country with maps that were drawn up someone who'd never been there, the rules are changing all the time and to try to predict what's going to happen are always going to be wide of the mark.
Surveys that suggest cloud will or won't be employed are not presenting the full picture. The telling statistic from the Forrester report was that 41 percent of companies were looking at cloud storage but had no plans to deploy it - if just a quarter of them did in the next three years, you'd have Gartner's prediction pretty spot on, just a year later than expected. Cloud computing is coming all right and the world order is going to change.
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