The real promise of cloud computing

Image: Evergreen IT delivers flexibility and lower cost. Evergreen IT delivers flexibility and lower cost. Finally, enterprises can shake off the burdens of their legacy systems.

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Several years ago, the IT staff at Bechtel Corporation needed at least 60 days to respond to requests for new or changed application workloads. This requirement is hardly agile in an enterprise where each multiyear, multibillion-dollar construction project is much like building a new business that has unique staffing needs, geographic challenges, and a large IT component. Today, the IT staff can implement most changes overnight, a vast improvement that illustrates how IT agility can support business agility.

How did Bechtel do it? Central to the transformation is the on-demand availability of IT resources shared across a pool of users. This availability is achieved through some of the emerging practices and technologies collectively known as cloud computing. At present, cloud computing services are best illustrated by, Google,, and other service providers. These companies adopted patterns of IT architectures and data center provisioning and management that are disruptively more cost efficient, agile, and reliable than most enterprise IT environments. By adopting the best practices of cloud service providers for its internal IT infrastructure, Bechtel transformed its systems and processes. (See “Evergreening IT at Bechtel”.)

There’s no way traditional information systems can handle all the sources, many of which are structured differently or not structured at all.

PwC believes Bechtel has made an impressive leap toward a vision we call Evergreen IT. An Evergreen IT environment is the end state that frees enterprises of costly, inefficient, legacy IT by enabling enterprises to build a more flexible and agile environment. Evergreen IT requires technology architecture and IT infrastructure management strategies consistent with the strategies used in cloud computing. It creates the potential for continually refreshing IT capabilities without distracting the business and for staying in alignment with business needs. Although this vision is inspired by external cloud computing providers, the goal is Evergreen IT, not cloud computing per se.

This issue of the Technology Forecast explores the concepts, the technology, and the road map to Evergreen IT. This article begins with a close look at Bechtel. It then describes how legacy IT has become an obstacle to IT agility, and ends with a prescription for resolving the issues through Evergreen IT.

Download Technology Forecast Summer 09 for the complete article