Enterprises must prepare for 12 to 18 months of incredible hype surrounding utility computing. The topic will be a focal point for media and analyst coverage. Seemingly every technology vendor will have a plan or product set for utility computing. However, despite the hype, the Yankee Group report, "Performance Management Road Map for Utility Computing," asserts that utility computing, in whatever agreed-upon implementation, offers an unprecedented opportunity to align IT resources with the goals of the business. The key to making this alignment happen will be management tools that provide automation and control of the infrastructure and visibility into the performance of business services.

"IT managers understand utility computing will happen, but it is unclear what shape it will eventually take," says George Hamilton, Yankee Group Enterprise Computing and Networking analyst. "Business and IT managers should watch closely as standards evolve and product portfolios expand. The most important technological question for IT managers is how the management layer will communicate with the virtualization layer in the utility computing stack. It remains to be seen whether policy-based management of performance management software can direct the virtualized pool of resources to automatically allocate IT power to business services."

The Yankee Group proposes that automated infrastructure management tasks and an intense focus on business services performance will drive change and innovation. Utility computing enables the creation of management tools that not only manage the availability of the infrastructure, but also manage the performance of business services.

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