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I’ve been thinking about adoption rates and use cases for cloud computing, particularly here in Canada.  My goal is to find signs that Canada is moving down the path towards “cloudiness” just as quickly as other countries.

I’m not talking about mass market cloud services, i.e., the free SaaS category.  Yes, a large number of people in Canada use Facebook, LinkedIn and Gmail.  These don’t really provide a good measure of corporate adoption and cannot really be compared to infrastructure and platform services utilization.

Two different ideas come to mind:  the Gartner Hype Cycle, and the Technology Adoption/Chasm Curve of Geoffrey Moore.  I was also pleasantly surprised to see a blog post from Arteris (Kurt Shuler September 10, 2012) that connects the dots between the two.

Gartner recently published its 2014 Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies which includes both cloud computing (soon to be formally defined in ISO/IEC 17788) and hybrid cloud computing.  Both are said to be past what Gartner calls “the peak of inflated expectations” for new technologies, but neither have yet passed the cylce’s “trough of disillusionment” that usually follows before steady adoption. Interesting that cloud computing is still considered to be an emerging technology even though its arguably close to a decade old.

Gartner’s explanation of the Hype Cycle suggests that we should be seeing negative press reports and some supplier consolidation (IBM buying SoftLayer would be one example).  At the beginning of the “slope of enlightenment” they state that less than five per cent of the potential audience has adopted a technology fully, and that adoption grows to 20-30 per cent by the time the technology has moved to the plateau stage.

This would suggest cloud computing is in the Early Adopter stage of the Crossing the Chasm diagram.  Each of the stages is explained here.

I have always wondered if the Hype Cycle was primarily representative of market status in the U.S. (where most of the hype probably originates), and whether the results are really reflective of other countries.  For example, an old marketing rule of thumb for Canada is:  one-tenth the size of the USA market, and two years later than in the U.S.  I don’t know where that came from but people used to swear by it! Does this seem to apply to cloud computing as well?

In any case, the conclusion would be that the chasm has not yet been crossed for enterprise cloud computing.  There is certainly, in my view, no single “gorilla” that owns the architecture, and so far switching out (at least for IaaS) is not really very difficult.  There may be some SaaS providers, however, that are approaching gorilla status (Salesforce and Facebook, for example).

A better question might be:  How do we get cloud computing across the chasm and into the “bowling alley”?

I don’t have an easy answer for this question but I do know that publishing early adopter results cannot hurt.  Every case study, every successful solution and every testimonial that we read about in the news will help to get the pragmatists interested.  Another step will be to find the lead bowling pin – is it government, mobility, big data, small start-ups, or could it be broadcasting (e.g., the Olympics)?

Developing products that are irresistible for one specific market may also get the bowling ball rolling.

What do you think?  Let me know in the comments section below about your organization’s cloud adoption.

[Editor’s note: In March IDC Canada issued a report on Canadian enterprise adoption of cloud technologies based on a five country study in 2013. “Canada’s traditional role as a late technology adopter when compared with the United States is as true now as ever,” Mark Schrutt, the division’s of services and enterprise applications, said in a release. “The role of the cloud in Canada is complicated by worries with regard to data residency, which has slowed adoption in a market that is approximately 10 per cent the size of that south of the border.

“To the extent that this concern is an inhibitor, large players are obligated to build full-service datacentres in Canada, and smaller innovative United States–based providers face challenges with cross-border business. Given that Canadian respondents were clear in their intentions to shift to the cloud, two trends are a near certainty: the security and privacy inhibitor will decline, aided by strong account references, and IT departments will shrink, with the cloud acting as a powerful business enabler. These next two years will be crucial for Canadian businesses, many of which risk losing their competitive edge if they delay their path to the cloud.”]


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