Why will it take 30 years for cloud computing to mature?

Friday, September 17, 2010 gc 2 Comments

The problem is that it will take 30 years for cloud computing to reach market maturity. We will need to be patient and plan accordingly; the implication based on technology market cycles is that the real opportunity for cloud services and solutions will be over the next 10-15 years. 

So, why will it take 30 years for cloud computing to reach market maturity?
One reason: cloud computing has a force working against it; that is, well entrenched processes and IT organizations. These organizations, like people, have a survival instinct that is strong. Change can be difficult. Agile organizations  will be better positioned to adopt the cloud and to leap frog others by using it as a competitive advantage. To move even faster.  For the others, it will be easier to use the killer benefit to help eventually overcome their objections.

But the real reason is true for almost any new technology. It takes major technologies about 30 years to fully reach the masses.  Consider the following technologies:
  • Mobile phones: The modern handheld cell phone era began in 1973 when Motorola invented the first cellular portable telephone to be commercialized, known as Motorola DynaTAC 8000X. )
  • Televisions: Now flat panels are going through a market cycle
  • Personal Computers: Some consider the first personal computer to be from 1950 http://www.blinkenlights.com/pc.shtml
  • Internet: The origins of the Internet reach back to the 1960s with both private and United States military research into robust, fault-tolerant, and distributed computer networks)

I realize that the 30 year statement is a bit provocative, but it is practically a law for new technologies. Even if new markets are forced with huge investments, it still takes a lot of time. Laggards have to be almost forced to move. This segment would still opt for rotary dial if it was available. 

Entrepreneurs are at the other end of the spectrum. They often overestimate what is possible in 2-3 years, but underestimate what is possible in 10.  Industry experts and groups like Gartner should factor this law when making some of their predictions.

From my view, we are at the cusp of tremendous growth. I am excited about the next decade with cloud computing. 

One last thing: cloud computing will bring a bit of rain in the form of outages, market contractions, and some drama. It is bound to add to the dialog and excitement. 

What's your view?

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2 comments:

Honestly, do you think it will take 30 years or even half of that for that matter?. The reason I ask is because the guys at Cloud Expo is pumping up the volume on CC and predicts 2011 is for CC. Do you agree?. and these are some top companies like yours. By the way I appreciate your outlook on CC and whats to become. I'm still fresh in learning about CC but my blood is boiling over if all what I read is true so far and I mean that in a good way. :) Aloha,
Rusty

Greg Cowin said...

I do really think it will take 30 years for cloud market saturation. It will take a very long time for systems to get migrated. And some will never quite make it either due to compliance/regulatory issues or for legacy reasons. We often over estimate how long it will take for a new technology to saturate a market. I don't think the cloud will be different.

However, don't let this slow you down. Go for it. There are going to be a lot of great opportunities over the next 10 years. Some will leverage it to overtake their larger competitors. New markets will be created too.

Check out this post for a more optimistic viewpoint:
http://gregcowin.blogspot.com/2010/12/top-3-reasons-why-cloud-computing-is.html

And here is two ideas to help you company to start making the move:
http://gregcowin.blogspot.com/2010/12/two-ideas-to-help-your-company-move-to.html

Enjoy.