Burton Group advising Fortune 500 on cloud computing

BarbaraIndustry analysts

burton-logo1The influencer ecosystem for enterprise cloud computing shifted here in the US today with Burton Group formally entering the tech research and advisory fray. The launch moves them directly into the line of influence with all of their clients, because they already cover the primary tech and service areas that make up cloud computing and because they are offering all active clients immediate access to the cloud service for a limited time.

When Burton Group talks about clients, it’s talking about tech decision-makers at Fortune 500 / Global 1000 companies with annual revenues of $12bn and up.

In truth, Burton Group has been influencing enterprise cloud computing decisions under the public radar for some time now. Drue Reeves, who heads cloud computing research, explained, “Cloud computing touches on everything we cover, from security and privacy to SLAs and compliance to data centers and storage.” Clients are ready to talk about where cloud computing makes sense and where it doesn’t in their particular circumstance.

He said that clients have been probing into cloud computing within the individual Burton service areas to such an extent that it was a natural choice to add cloud to their all-in-one IT1 service.

IT1 is a popular alternative to traditional service- and seat-based pricing. According to Gary Hein, service director for cloud computing, IT1 accounts for as much as half of Burton Group revenues. IT1 provides enterprise-wide all-you-eat access to all Burton research along with perks such as analyst face time and designated research assistants. IT1 subscribers have exclusive access to enterprise architecture (EA) and ITIL, and now cloud computing.

Cloud computing will be a primary focus at Burton Group Catalyst Conference 2009, from keynotes and dedicated sessions to content woven into tech-specific tracks. In addition, the service is publishing a half dozen reports including new titles on cloud computing and recent titles covering key strategy and decision areas. You can also catch an introductory teleconference on May 20th.

Here’s more of my Q&A with Drue and Gary, followed by the list of analysts adding cloud to their coverage.

Q: What’s the average price for an IT1 subscription?
A: It’s negotiated individually with each enterprise.

Q: Are you increasing the pricing of IT1 now that you’ve added cloud computing?
A: No. This year there are no price increases. Usually, you would expect small increases, not this year. This makes sense when you consider IT1 is driving up our usage rates and contract value.

Q: Where have you cut back on coverage to accommodate this expansion?
A: We have not made cuts in coverage.

Q: Do you expect cloud computing to catch on for the long-term? or is this another tech fad?
A: We do expect it to catch on. It’s not dissipating in any way. We think it will catch on because the issues it addresses (cost and complexity of IT, need for greater agility, etc.) will not go away.

Q: Why are IT professionals becoming so comfortable so quickly with cloud computing?
A: They are already familiar with cloud concepts. And, they have some wins in these areas. That gives them confidence.

Q: What’s the short answer to the difference between IT outsourcing, hosting and cloud computing?
A: The 3 are distinct but the boundaries between them are blurry. Putting it very simply: cloud uses an on-demand business model; outsourcing entails contracting specific resources; hosting entails contracting specific physical resources.

Some people are presenting cloud as all internal or all external. There are lots of different patterns for this, including some use of internal clouds or “private” clouds. It’s also more a case of a steady migration. You might move from internal virtualization to hosted solutions to cloud. Our customers are evolving in hybrid models — such as introducing SaaS then adding EC2 for compute infrastructure.

Q: Are your clients concerned about their staffs or jobs being replaced by the cloud?
A: There’s a little sensitivity. On the whole, though, cloud computing should free up resources from mundane tasks — such as patch management — so they can focus on the more strategic projects. Also, there may be a shift, with jobs moving to cloud providers.

Q: Are you going to cover green clouds?
A: We already do, through the data center strategies services. That rolls up to the cloud coverage. And, we don’t say green. We say energy efficiency.

Cloud computing – Burton influencers

The core analyst team is adding cloud coverage to their ongoing coverage areas:
Drue Reeves: Research Director, virtualization, compute, storage
Bob Blakely: Identity, security
Anne Thomas Manes: Platform, development
Dave Passmore: Networking, service providers
Guy Creese: Collaboration, content
Dan Blum: Security, risk management
Chris Haddad: Platform, development
Marcus Collins: Database, data management
Chris Howard: CxO messaging, business drivers
Gary Hein: Service Director