Nicholas Carr didn't mince words during his COMDEXvirtual keynote session Wednesday: Cloud computing is here to stay, and now is the time for VARs and IT as a whole to get in on the action or risk being left in the dust.
"It's certainly been amazing to me to see the changes in attitudes about the cloud just in recent years," he said.
According to Carr, a renowned author and IT pundit, cloud computing as moved beyond skepticism and has reached a period of great hype and enthusiasm.
"The picture has changed almost completely," he said.
Carr spoke at COMDEXvirtual, the online conference hosted by CRN parent company Everything Channel. The show takes place November 16 - 17, and sessions are available on-demand until May 17, 2011.
Unlike other over-hyped technologies, Carr noted that cloud computing is the biggest IT shift since the introduction of the PC. While the move to cloud architectures won't happen overnight, it's high time to start planning lest you have to play catch-up in the future.
"Cloud computing is the model of IT for the future," he said, adding that while adoption may only be in the early stages, cloud computing as a theory and idea is now mainstream.
And dismissing the cloud as all bark and no bite is a bad idea, Carr cautioned.
"To take that attitude would be the worst thing you could do at this time because complacency will lead you -- whether you're supplying IT or using it -- to kind of get behind the curve and not realize that users are going to be demanding more and more cloud services in the very near future, and suppliers are going to be tested in the marketplace on their ability to respond to these trends and these needs and desires," he said.
The cloud currently sits perfectly at the intersection between two laws: Moore's Law and Grove's Law, meaning that the capacity of the network has caught up to the capacity of the computer, and the cloud computing model sits square at their intersection.
To best define the cloud, Carr turned back the cloud 17 years to a quote from Eric Schmidt, who is now Google's CEO: "When the network becomes as fast as the processor, the computer hollows out and spreads across the network." Or, more simply put, the Internet becomes a worldwide shared computing system.
Though the transition to the full cloud will be a five, 10 or even 15 year climb, Carr said five patterns of cloud adoption have already emerged as the market forms.
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The first is the cloud as a model, or the private cloud which offers an environment that is virtualized, consolidated, programmable, automated and green, but is in-house and not in a shared public cloud infrastructure.
The second, he said, is the cloud as a supplement, a model that lets companies add new capabilities at a cheaper cost compared to on-premise systems. Using the cloud to supplement IT is low risk, requires no capital outlay or new staff, saves money and is attractive in a rough economy.
The cloud as a replacement is the third cloud computing model, and the model in which all infrastructure moves to the cloud. Currently, large companies are still working toward the cloud as a replacement model, but it is being adopted by some smaller companies.
Fourth is the cloud as a democratizer model, where everyone is essentially an IT guy in which users can leverage the cloud their own way.
And lastly, Carr said, the fifth model is the cloud as a revolution when IT and business processes align to create a solid and sustainable cloud computing ecosystem.
Overall, Carr told the COMDEXvirtual crowd during his keynote, the cloud is a framework for innovation and has become a disruptive technology. And its path will continue in coming years. While he doesn't advise diving head first into cloud computing, it's wise to investigate and strategize now to prepare for the cloud boom. Failure to take the cloud seriously, he warned, could have dire consequences for both IT suppliers like VARs and IT consumers which could risk being left at a competitive disadvantage.
"Do you want to be the disruptor or the disrupted?" Carr asked. "Certainly I think we can all agree that at the very least it's much more fun to be the disruptor and not be the disrupted."
Register now to attend COMDEXvirtual or to access on-demand sessions.