Users call virtualization, cloud huge disappointments; plan to keep buying anyway

Expectations stay a consistent couple of years ahead of real performance

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People buy technology hoping it will do wonderful things, but realizing it may not live up to its billing without a lot of help from them and the eventual need to lower their expectations to the real functions a product can deliver rather than those users and vendors hoped it could, according to John McGee, VP of product marketing for Symantec.

It's all part of the growing process for markets growing out of their immaturity by beginning to deliver technology that's functional as well as buzzwordy – a process that continues until successful technologies become reliable enough to be used in mission-critical applications while being too boring to distract anyone from the exciting, new non-functional technology that just came along.

It's a process split between developing new functions for the technology and changing IT or business organizations enough to take advantage of strengths inherent in the technology itself, McGee said.

Virtual servers almost hit expectations because they're far more of a known quantity than the other technologies, have a much longer track record and are much more widely implemented and understood, McGee said.

Storage-as-a-service fell so far short of expectations partly because so few IT execs know much about it or have tried to make it work, and partly due to its having been on the market for a very short time.

Without much experience with a new technology it's possible to imagine that, in the very near future, it will do things far more effectively than evidence shows it currently can.

That's both a bit of potentially destructive flavor of denial and the kind of optimism that keeps us getting up in the morning despite the virtual certainty that today won't be dramatically better than tomorrow.

It's also a reflection of the constant lack of satisfaction that keeps most people, especially technically minded ones, trying to build or tweak or configure things to improve the way they do their jobs, drive to and from work and clean up the house afterward.

That's why technology eventually catches up with our expectations, but only yesterday's expectations. Today's expectations have already advanced.

For example, right now Symantec's study shows hybrid/cloud products require too much time to provision new resources (39 percent), don't scale far enough (34 percent) and have too little security (29 percent) compared to goals end users set for it.

A year or two from now the provisioning and scalability might improve so far that they almost meet the expectations cited in the study.

But those were 2010 expectations. Two years from now they'll be 2012 expectations, which will include flying cars and robot butlers. Hybrid clouds won't have those things by then, so they'll still fall short of expectations and will still disappoint the people paying for them.

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