With rapid technology change and almost daily product announcements, I am sure many people wonder what’s going on with information technology, and with cloud computing in particular.  A question that IT executives must ask is – what does the future hold for (and with) cloud computing?

Today, there are more options and choices for IT solution designers than ever before, but the risks associated with adopting new technologies too quickly can also be significant. One example is the Apple Watch. Even though it works today, everyone knows there will be a better version in a year – so why rush to buy it now?

Cloud computing is being viewed as a major disruption in the  IT industry, and yet it’s only now reaching the Trough of Disillusionment stage of the Gartner technology model. Cloud computing has even hit the consumer news. For example, The Globe and Mail has published articles such as “Cloud computing for the little guy” and have talked about corporate cloud fears.

Systems that seem to be independent can actually be closely linked (for example, mobility, cloud, software-defined services, and big data). This has led to the idea of “hybrid IT,” an expansion of the hybrid cloud model, being the vision for the future.

Perhaps another image that comes to mind is that IT is of a high speed train running down the tracks towards a dark tunnel, with little or no insight as to what awaits at the other end.  Perhaps how the train’s engine works, who is running it or how to stop it are also mysteries!

Even leaders in the computer or telecommunication industries are amazed by how much has happened in the last five years.  As the transformation to the next generation of IT begins, it’s hard to know where to start, what to believe, or who to trust.  I can certainly understand the dilemma, especially for organizations that don’t have well-established enterprise and technical architecture practices to rely on.

I recently discovered a slide deck and eBook produced by Dell that I thought was quite well done.  It’s available for free:  the slides are here, and the eBook is here.   If you are striving to find the big picture for the future of cloud computing, I encourage you to read these documents.

A key takeaway for me is that IT planning and architecture will be even more important in the future and that “thinking technically outside the box” will be needed to stimulate innovation at the business level. Planning and developing systems as independent vertical “silos” will not be good enough – the complete automation and integration platform, development lifecycle and management ecosystem must be taken into consideration.

As more vendors work to increase their sales and market shares, it will be harder to “back into the future” without a well-thought out transformation roadmap and a consensus on basic standards.  There are numerous standards organizations aiming to help in this area – the NIST, for example, has developed a cloud roadmap for the U.S. government.

A first step that all IT managers can take now is to assess their organization’s cloud maturity using, for example, the model defined by the Open Data Center Alliance.

As always, your comments and war stories are welcomed!