Gartner says cloud computing needs to mature

The analyst firm has advised companies to hold off on deploying cloud computing, saying it needs seven years to mature.

Hold off on heading to the cloud, Gartner has warned, saying the technology backing it up needs as long as seven years to mature.

Despite the recent hype around cloud computing, Gartner believes that the underlying application infrastructure technologies needed to make it mainstream need seven years to mature.

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The analyst advised those planning application developments in the cloud to start tactical projects through 2011, when it said the market would begin to mature and dominant vendors will emerge.

By 2015, it predicted that "cloud computing will have been commoditised and will be the preferred solution for many application development projects".

In the meantime, Gartner said the market for what the research firm calls service-enabled application platforms (SEAPs), will continue to develop.

"SEAPs are the foundation on which software-as-a-service solutions are built," explained Mark Driver, Gartner research vice president. "As SEAP technologies mature during the next several years, Gartner foresees three distinct, but slightly overlapping, phases of evolution."

In the current, development phase Gartner said the natural immaturity of SEAP systems, compounded by their proprietary nature, would offer only quick-hit, tactical market opportunities.

It added that mainstream IT developers should focus primarily on SEAP investments where return on investment can be achieved within 18 to 24 months.

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And from 2010 to 2013, those with the most coherent rapid-deployment tools and features will lead a phase of cloud technology consolidation, by proving particularly attractive to end-user organisations and social-computing projects.

Driver continued: "The third phase, from 2012 through 2015, will see mainstream critical mass and commoditisation."

In 2013, a small number of large SEAP providers are expected to dominate the market and provide its technical standards. Here, the analyst outlined its vision of a SEAP technology "fabric," supported by intra-cloud application programming interfaces to establish cloud-based systems across vendor platforms.

At the same time, the technology will have moved beyond the hype and early adopter phases, due to market expansion into increasingly conservative user bases. This, it predicted would further shift market emphasis from innovation to stability, cost and investment protection.

Last year, the analyst warned that confusion over cloud computing technologies and approaches could hamper its effective deployment by businesses.

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