Despite the clamor that utility computing is in the here and the now from vendors like IBM, HP and Sun Microsystems, the evidence just doesn't support those claims, according to new research from The 451 Group.
Some customers like the notion of drawing computing resources as if they are water or electricity.
Some are actively seeking providers that can give them pay-as-you-go models that supply capacity, plus the application for a single price, but they face myriad challenges when it comes to utility computing.
For example, there are no true set standards to ensure security, user resistance, management and billing, software licensing and performance. There is also a lack vendors and products to choose from, and too little developer and support expertise.
These are some of the reasons The 451 Group "believes that utility computing is a developing concept."
"But it is not yet a market - although it certainly is being marketed," wrote The 451 analyst William Fellows, alluding to the pronounced marketing efforts of the big IT vendors.
What IT vendors and customers have been doing is taking baby steps to 'utility' models, engaging in tasks and technologies for server consolidation, virtualization, metering and charge-back options.
Vendors such as IBM, HP and Sun have also proven to have capable grid computing technologies, a key ingredient for successful utility computing models. Grid computing involves letting several machines work on one major computational task at once, usually with virtualization or resource reallocation.
But systems administrators also prefer their grid software to be automated and self-managing so they can focus their attention elsewhere. IBM, HP and Sun all offer such computing capabilities on the fly.
Sun may be best known for its grid model of offering capacity a licensing plan of $1 per hour per CPU.
"Nearly all IT vendors are driving some notion of utility computing with grid technology under the hood, and they are hoping that initial deployments for grids and utility models within organizations will lead to wider enterprise use," Fellows said in the report.
"But at this point, adoption is minimal. Utility computing is not just around the corner, despite what vendors may suggest. Processing cycles and data access are not as fungible as electricity, and despite all the hype, it will take a lot of time and effort to turn everything into a service."
Service enabling their businesses is the route that many customers seem inclined to take. It's just a matter of time before they get there, the report concluded.
"When grids have been in use for some time, the conversation is increasingly rooted in the ability to better and more quickly respond to customer and internal requirements, address strategic business opportunities, do new things and improve time to market," said Fellows.