Analyst firm IDC believes that while global IT spend will increase by only 6% in 2011, spending on public cloud computing services will grow five times faster, with the global market for cloud management services set to hit $2.5bn inside four years – a robust 45.5% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) between 2010 and 2015.
The group says that many IT shops will therefore soon have to expect to manage a hybrid mix of public cloud, private cloud, and non-cloud IT resources for some time and that CIOs will "need highly automated and integrated system management software tools to optimise IT processes and application performance across these dynamic hybrid cloud environments".
It also predicts that the ability to manage all this hybrid clouds "seamlessly and effectively" will become a "critical differentiator and control point for system management software vendors" during its forecast period.
"Demand for cloud systems management software will ramp up as cloud adoption hits a tipping point," comments one of the report’s authors, Mary Johnston Turner, research director, Enterprise System Management Software.
"As customers begin to recognize the economic and performance benefits of Cloud technologies, there will be a significant shift from targeted, pilot implementations to broader production uses," she adds.
The firm drills down into what it sees as the main segments of that shift to real production deployments. As it stands, 70% of all such system management software purchases were in private cloud environments, most of which seems to be in the Americas (63.1%) though Europe and Asia-Pac aren’t that far behind.
We are very aware here at CBR that the chat that occupies the attention of the analyst-vendor-press and marketing loop is often up to two years ahead of the reality of the marketplace as lived by the average IT leader. It may well be that you just don’t care yet about cloud and see it as too far off.
But we tell you things like this data because, all in all, IDC says cloud really is "at the tipping point" and becoming "mainstream" – implying you have to have some kind of stance on it, positive or negative.
Your suppliers certainly will, it seems, if they see a way to sell you more stuff here.
That’s not to say all the issues have been ironed out yet, according to even sympathetic commentators.
Thus Simon Gay, CTO at managed services provider Adapt, says that cloud makes increasing sense for a number of reasons, meaning that "in today’s economy, buying utility-based services help organisations meet so many of their business requirements" but who also reminds us, "The issue of security still needs to be properly addressed, and businesses looking to navigate this subject should consider those service providers that can offer the broadest choice of services, coupled with impartial advice on the most appropriate best of breed solutions for maximum return on investment," for example.
You may also find it ominous – or not, depending on the state of your current relationship with your top tier suppliers – that IDC says that there’s clear business opportunity for software management leaders: "For major vendors, cloud systems management represents an opportunity to establish long lasting, ‘sticky’ strategic relationships with customers."
That is – you. Fancy being stuck to, in a cloud-y way? You may have to decide sooner than you think, if IDC is right…