Gartner said the confusion that surrounds the term "cloud computing" signifies its potential to change the IT market.
Gartner defines cloud computing as scalable, IT-related capabilities provided as a service on the internet.
"During the past 15 years, a continuing trend towards IT industrialisation has grown in popularity, as IT services delivered via hardware, software and people are becoming repeatable and usable by a wide range of customers and service providers," said Daryl Plummer, a Gartner analyst.
"This is due to the commoditisation and standardisation of technologies, including virtualisation and the rise of service-oriented software architectures, and, most importantly, to the dramatic growth in popularity of the Internet."
Plummer said these trends provided an opportunity to shape the relationship between IT service suppliers and consumers.
Users will be able to focus on what the service provides rather than how the services are implemented or hosted, he said.
Gartner said names had come into vogue at different times - "utility computing", "software as a service (SaaS)" and "application service providers" - but none had found widespread acceptance as the central theme for how IT-related services can be delivered.
Cloud IT services are wide-reaching. Users can use central processing unit (CPU) cycles without buying computers.
Storage services for data and documents dispense with the need to grow storage networks and servers.
SaaS companies offer customer relationship management (CRM) services through shared facilities, so clients can manage their customers without buying software.
These represent only the beginning for delivering all kinds of complex capabilities to businesses and individuals, said Gartner.
"When organisations cross the threshold between the internet as a communications channel and the deliberate delivery of service over the internet, then we truly start to head for an economy based on consumption of everything from storage to computation to video to finance deduction management," said Plummer.
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