The IT revolution that isn't

Cloud, mobile, and the consumerization of IT are conspiring to change everything -- but as with all else in enterprise IT, it's going to take a long time

Never has so much change in IT been foretold by so many. Nor have so many people seemed to agree on the general shape that change was taking -- from analysts to CIOs to vendors to all kinds of self-styled pundits.

You've heard the narrative: IT is being consumerized. As personal devices and cloud services nimbly provide more and more of what business users need to do their work, lumbering IT operations will have less and less to manage outside of a few core applications.

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The underlying message is that IT -- and software vendors -- have made a mess of things. So many systems require so much overhead just to limp along, IT doesn't have time to jump on new opportunities. And the big software vendors seem to work a lot harder on figuring creative ways to charge for upgrades and maintenance than on, say, fully mobilizing their apps.

Here's one reality check: According to recent Gartner projections, by 2014 SaaS applications will rise to 16 percent of enterprise application market, just a few percent higher than today -- not exactly explosive growth. It makes sense when you think about it: Enterprise apps like ERP are slowest to change and are the most closely guarded by business.

So what about other areas -- like office productivity software? Well, last time I looked, Microsoft Office still had over 80 percent market share. Will there be a rush to the cloud when Office 365 launches later this year? No way: Office 365 puts Exchange, SharePoint, and Lync servers in the cloud, but Office itself is meant to stay on the desktop. And though the No. 1 cloud competitor, Google Apps, has a gazillion users, most people use it for collaboration, not as an Office replacement. As Microsoft likes to say, its biggest competition for Office is earlier versions of Office.

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