Gartner: There Will Be Cloud Failures

Thomas Bittman

Gartner VP and Distinguished Analyst Thomas Bittman tells the crowd at Gartner Data Center Conference that cloud computing is about different kinds of cloud styles for each individual service. A different strategic plan is needed for each different service, he asserted.

The growth of cloud computing will give rise to hundreds and even thousands of providers, creating a competitive environment in which some players will fail – perhaps even large providers. That’s the view of Gartner Distinguished Analyst Thomas Bittman, who gave the keynote on cloud computing Monday at the Gartner Data Center Conference in Las Vegas.

“This will be a very Darwinian market,” said Bittman. “Over time, we think this competition will cause vendors to fail. This is already starting to happen. There’s no reason a larger provider will be immune from this. The key for vendors is agility. Many just won’t survive.”

Why focus on potential cloud provider failures? Because enterprise customers need to contemplate many “what if” scenarios and risks as they chart a path to the cloud – including failover options if a cloud provider should have a major downtime event or go out of business.

More Subdued About the Cloud
Bittman’s warning was consistent with a more tempered approach to cloud computing enthusiasm that characterized this year’s Gartner event. Bittman said he hoped to “clear the air” about the potential for cloud computing.

“We’ve heard all the hype,” he said. “We’ve been hearing that we’re all going to move our stuff to a small number of data centers n the sky, and you’ll all be out of business. In reality, there is not a black or white, public or private. In all of this, there’s shades of grey. There are good sides and bad sides to cloud computing. The key is to focus on the right services and requirements.”

A similar tone was struck in Monday’s other keynote by Gartner analyst David Cappuccio. “Cloud computing is not going to take over the planet,” Cappuccio said. “It won’t solve all your issues or get rid of your data center. But it’s not going away either.”

Bittman sees specialized clouds as a potentially compelling use case. “There will be providers that will go after the security and compliance requirements in specific industries and markets,” he said. He also cited the promise of “community clouds” forged around shared challenges or requirements. As an example, he said, a group of pharmaceutical companies could work together to maintain a cloud service optimized for high performance computing (HPC).

He continues to see a potential role for cloud brokers that act as an intermediary between enterprise customers and cloud providers. Bttman estimated that by 2015, about 20 percent of all cloud computing capacity will be handled by brokers. “We need integration between services, and cloud brokers will help with integration and provisioning.”

An audience survey found that 66 percent of attendees were focused more on private cloud deployments, while 20 percent were concentrating on public cloud services.

“We think what’s important is for you to stratify your requirements,” said Bittman. “Every service should have a strategic plan. Some will be hybrd. Some will never move to the cloud. Cloud computing is about a style for every service. The only bad cloud strategy is no cloud strategy.”

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About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.

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  1. Michele Hudnall

    Only the strong and well managed will survive and we have already had cloud failures - Intuit this past summer down for 2-3 days. Back-up data center in the same facility and the production facility, even those you think have good management practices still stub their toes occasionally. Service providers are popping up faster than they did during the Dotcom boom days and are 1 outage away from being out of business over poor management practices. Business is frustrated, seeking change and the Stealth Cloud is being deployed as the business outsources directly. Service levels, monitoring of the provider and good vendor relationship practices are all being overlooked with the need for speed to change and adopt agile infrastructures. The savvy service providers will invest in management in 2011 changing the conversation from security to service level commitments and the ability to deliver consistently and reliably. These service providers will feast on the data centers that are slow to embrace, adopt and deploy agile infrastructures with intelligent management built in. The key to speed and value is the intelligent management platform investment at inception controlling risk without losing agility. It will take an intelligent integration platform and approach to the challenge with speed and value. 2011 is no doubt a year of tipping points! Michele Hudnall - HudnallsHuddle on Twitter - myBlog