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Will the Teens Be the Decade of the Cloud?

We're coming to the time of the year when pundits look back on 2009 (no thanks) and, given that we're nearing the end of the decade, look back on the 2000s, or whatever they're called. We considered doing a long post of technologies of the decade but never pulled the trigger.

And then we figured, why look back? Let's look forward to 2010 and the teens. Right after we talk a little about the 2000s....

For us -- and this seems fairly obvious -- "the" technology of the '90s was the consumer Internet, the World Wide Web. (The technology of the '80s was the Atari game system, of course, and we won't hear arguments to the contrary. And of the '70s? Conway Twitty's hair. But we digress...) We'd say that "the" technology of the first decade of this century has been social networking, followed by (and tied in with) easy accessibility to online video (and to cameras to make videos and put them online).

In the enterprise, maybe it's been virtualization, or maybe something mobile, like the Blackberry or some other sort of smart phone. Whatever. We're here to talk about the teens, that petulant, rebellious, acne-ridden decade we're about to enter. Standing on the precipice of 2009, it seems as though "the" technology of the teens will be, in one form or another, the cloud.

Of course, the consumer cloud is already big, with photo sites and online banking and what not extremely common now. But the enterprise cloud, which seems to generate new announcements from big vendors almost by the week is still a tough sell for some IT departments and financial executives. And it's also a tough sell for some partners, who don't want to lose control of their accounts to a big vendor or don't want to see lucrative services revenues trickle down to a slow drip of monthly fees.

We're very enthusiastic about cloud technology here at RCPU, and we think that by 2020 (looks weird, doesn't it?) it could very well be dominant in IT departments of all sizes across the globe. But, as many observers have noted and as Microsoft realizes, the pure cloud (whereof a company's information is stored in some vendor's distant data center) likely won't be the prevalent model. Private clouds -- or cloud services that companies run in their own data centers -- and hybrid clouds that include SaaS technologies with on-premises implementations will likely be the first step most companies will take into cloud computing. Of course, all of that will rely heavily on virtualization.

How long will the partly cloudy IT forecast last? Well, that's hard to say, but we're guessing that there still won't be many companies running a pure cloud model 10 years from now. Technology always moves much more quickly than acceptance of it does -- look at Windows XP holding out against competition from its own creator. Enterprise acceptance of new technologies tends to be very slow. Your editor personally knows one IT professional whose extremely large company is still on Windows 2000 and only recently started a Vista upgrade. Our guess is that his company is not alone.

For partners, it won't be a bad thing if cloud technology is a little slow out of the gate. They need to figure out how to monetize it and work with it before it really does take over corporate IT departments. A long period of dominance for the hybrid or private-cloud model would give partners time to do that. Plus, it would let them open up new sources of services revenue.

We don't want to go all Gartner on you or anything here, but we really do think that just about everything will run in a pure cloud environment...eventually. Just not all that soon. And that's OK. The real question for us going into a new decade is: How long will the operating system be around and be relevant for everyday computing? Maybe we'll tackle that one in January.

What's your forecast for cloud technology? What do you think "the" technology of the 2000s was? Send your thoughts to [email protected].

Posted by Lee Pender on December 21, 2009