Definitions aside, the vendor and analyst communities are on board. Hewlett-Packard sees utility computing as a $3 billion market by 2004, growing to $18 billion by 2006, with professional services accounting for 30 percent to 35 percent of that total. IBM has earmarked $10 billion in research and development, acquisition, and marketing funds for its utility-computing initiative. On the analyst side, IDC says that 35 percent of all servers sold in the United States this year will be blades, with the market swelling to $6 billion by 2007.
Those rosy numbers would seem to portend a revolution, so we set out to determine just where the market is headed, hoping to separate reality from hype. What we found is that utility computing holds great promise and in fact represents the maturing of IT. Just as sales, manufacturing, R&D and other corporate disciplines have grown up, now it's IT's turn. It's not a matter of whether IT will change, but when.
Evolution vs. The Big Bang
Before we drill down into definitions, viewpoints and timetables, it's worth noting that we are skeptical as to whether a revolution is coming, and judging from our reader poll, so are you. Vendors have heralded more than one overnight transformation that never came to fruition. Why? Because Darwin had the right idea.