% fortune -ae paul murphy

Where there's hype, there's fire?

For at least the last ten years or so some of the people at Gartner Group have been touting the idea that IT products experience more of a hype cycle than a life cycle - going from hot press release to industry standard and then the dustbin in some unreasonably short period of time.

Their latest effort along these lines, something called the "Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, 2008" was summarized by the finfacts team in this, presumably unwitting, parody:

Gartner, the US IT research firm, has identified 27 emerging technologies and predicts that eight of these will have a transformational business impact and should be strongly considered for adoption by technology planners in the next 10 years, according to a report Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, 2008. In related news, a UK media academic last month, termed the hype surrounding Web 2.0 innovations such as social networking and the development of internet television as "Bollocks 2.0."

"Although Web 2.0 is now entering the Trough of Disillusionment, it will emerge within two years to have transformational impact, as companies steadily gain more experience and success with both the technologies and the cultural implications," said Jackie Fenn, Gartner vice president, at the publication of the Hype report. "Later, in between two and five years, cloud computing and service-oriented architecture (SOA), which is moving up the Slope of Enlightenment, will deliver transformation in terms of driving deep changes in the role and capabilities of IT. Finally, public virtual worlds, which are suffering from disillusionment after their peak of hype in 2007, will in the long term represent an important media channel to support and build broader communities of interest."

At a media event in London, Patrick Barwise, emeritus professor of management and marketing at the London Business School, defined as "Bollocks 2.0," claims about the threat to traditional media from innovations such as social networking and internet television.

He said human behaviour guaranteed the future of television, despite the downturn in advertising.

More specifically, here's the article's summary of what Gartner had to say about cloud computing:

Cloud computing, As companies seek to consume their IT services in the most cost-effective way, interest is growing in drawing a broad range of services (for example, computational power, storage and business applications) from the "cloud," rather than from on-premises equipment. Many types of technology providers are aligning themselves with this trend, with the result that confusion and hype will continue for at least another year before distinct submarkets and market leaders emerge.

Cloud computing is strategically important to companies from Amazon to Google and even Microsoft is looking at it as a simplification technology for home computing. History shows us, however, that any success it has in the near term will be relatively shortlived.

What fired up the time sharing market in the seventies and is firing cloud computing now is the advantage time sharing offers user managers fighting IT for services. Then, as now, the issue was flexibility with user managers wanting more control than IT was, and is, willing to give them.

Cloud computing is dangerous stuff and given comparable levels of control over both budget and function, no user management committee would ever opt to put its eggs in external baskets - because there's no comeback when things go wrong. Just recently google's email - just about the easiest cloud computing service imaginable - fell on its face for the better part of an afternoon. Google said the company was sorry, but the bottom line was that users dependent on the service got neither service nor compensation.

That was an afternoon's outage - some of them last a bit longer: here's an extract from an August 28/08 report by theregister's Cade Metz:

Engineer accidentally deletes cloud

Off-demand computing - First Amazon, now FlexiScale

Another large cloud is on the fritz. Following last month's much-discussed Amazon S3 outage, most (if not all) of XCalibre's FlexiScale cloud went dark on Tuesday, and nearly two days later, the UK-based hosting outfit has yet to restore service. According to XCalibre CEO Tony Lucas, the outage has affected "a vast majority"

You hear excuses, of course: that trusting the external idiot is no worse than trusting the internal one, that the external guy can ramp up scale quicker, that his software is just must-have, killer, stuff -but none of this is true beyond some very rare special cases.

It's often true in high performance computing, for example, because going beyond the desktop means going to tens of thousands of grid processors - but you don't see that in most businesses, and the ones that do have these needs, like the big aircraft or automobile, pharmaceutical, and equipment engineering firms, usually also have security requirements that prevent them from using the cloud.

The truth is that there isn't a major company or government organization in the world whose computing can be done more efficiently via third party cloud computing than internally - and thus the real bottom line on the market for time sharing is what it was in the seventies: it's a solution that will be useful exactly as long as user management can cite costs and software exigencies as justifications for what they really want to do: an end run around the limits IT seeks to impose.

Paul Murphy wrote and published The Unix Guide to Defenestration. Murphy is a 25-year veteran of the I.T. consulting industry, specializing in Unix and Unix-related management issues.