Takeaways from the Gartner Data Center Conference (As of Day 2)

So far, to be honest, I’ve been rather flummoxed by the proceedings at this conference. There seems to be massive confusion about “the cloud” and what it means for enterprise IT, both strategically and tactically. I’m not sure if the concern alleged in various sessions is something being generated by Gartner or flowing from their clients but there’s a rather dramatic difference in tone compared to their 2011 conference, which was full of optimistic and practical presentations from enterprises already well down the path of private cloud implementations. To wit:

Takeaway #1: The recurring theme from Day 1 was that enterprise IT is practically a dinosaur whose very existence is threatened by AWS.

There is an entire track called “Web-Scale IT: Can It Make Enterprise IT Competitive With the Cloud”. In session after session, analysts exhorted their listeners to think about how to use cloud techniques within their enterprise so as to not lose control of their IT operations. This despite the fact that an audience poll during the first keynote indicated that figuring out private and hybrid cloud was already the primary focus of the majority of attendees. And without regard to the various forms public clouds may take and the range of purposes they fulfill, Amazon was consistently invoked as a catchall term for “the problem” that enterprise IT must get ahead of, vs a complementary function. The notion of “own the base, rent the spike” apparently is anathema.

Keith Townsend (@virtualizedgeek) provides an excellent deconstruction of the notion that AWS is interchangeable with enterprise IT services here. Such on-the-ground realities aside, it’s useful to understand that this is the lens through which Gartner collectively (there are clear exceptions with regard to specific analysts) is organizing their commentary and advice.

Takeaway #2: Traditional infrastructure markets are well-covered and well-understood. Management and orchestration are another story.

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