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WTF is cloud-tethered compute? We're not sure either, but it just made a hype cycle for the first time

Edge and serverless about to slide into the trough of disillusionment

Clouds have gone private, mutated into hybrids, gone virtual and/or private and attracted many other labels beside.

And soon we’ll also be offered “cloud-tethered compute”, according the analyst outfit Gartner which has made this new term one of the items on its 2020 hype cycle for infrastructure strategies.

For those of you unfamiliar with hype cycles, they chart the progress of new technologies from their inception with an “innovation trigger”, before they pass to a “peak of inflated expectations” and fall into a “trough of disillusionment”. Those that survive climb a “slope of enlightenment” before reaching the sunlit uplands of the “plateau of productivity”.

Technologies at the peak in 2020 include serverless architecture, edge computing, site reliability engineering and service meshes, but all should come good in between two and five years. Immutable Infrastructure – described as “a process pattern in which the system and application infrastructure, once instantiated, is never updated in place” – has a five-to-ten-year trip to respectability.

New on the cycle this year are:

  • Consumption-based on-premises pricing – Also known as “pay as you go” and championed by HPE, Dell and Pure Storage. Needs very careful consideration because it can lead to runaway costs. No need to get vastly excited about this one as it will take five to 10 years to go mainstream.
  • Distributed cloud – Clouds for which providers explicitly name the location of infrastructure and make a virtue of those locations because they lower latency. Don’t expect this to get big in the first half of the decade.
  • Funding opex-capex balancing - Essentially cloud cost analysis and comparisons, to manage cloud costs and help to inform purchasing. Should get useful in no more than five years.
  • Intelligent platforms – Think of this as predictive management of apps running on HCI. Instead of managing a box, or an app, intelligent platforms manage the lot and understand their interdependencies. Expect to wait at least five years for this to get real.
  • Immersion cooling – New cooling liquids are easier to handle and mean the power and heat benefits are now more accessible in more scenarios, even though capex costs remain high. Give it two to five years and it might be on your shopping list.
  • Cloud-tethered compute – A cloud that runs on your premises, but is managed by a cloud operator. Gartner thinks this has legs and will be mainstream and useful in two to five years.

This year’s hype cycle has the internet of things bottoming out thanks to “cost, complexity and scaling challenges implementing IoT-enabled business solutions” plus “end-to-end integration complexity, the need to bridge cultural divides between IT and operations, confusing vendor marketing, especially as they increasingly shift to IoT-enabled business solutions, security concerns, and the 2020 pandemic disruption on IoT project schedules.”

Other interesting nuggets from the document include:

  • Software-defined networking won’t happen: it just went mainstream into automation and management tools. Software-defined compute and infrastructure suffered similar fates.
  • In-memory computing is still two to five years from the plateau of productivity, with the debut of Optane and NVMe, their adoption by big software vendors, and successful SAP migrations all making it more accessible.
  • Non-x86 architectures have dropped off the cycle, but we can’t say if they popped up on another cycle or just became relevant!


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