Get used to a WORLD where computer services are delivered to you like electricity is through wires, says a recent report from Pricewaterhouse Coopers.

“”The Internet is gradually developing into a conduit for delivering computing power as a utility, much like energy is delivered,””

says the report entitled Technology Forecast 2002-2004.

Although there is little of what can be described as new in the survey, the authors say they wanted to depict “”multi-year trends and directions in IT rather than merely predicting developments in a single calendar year.””

Uppermost among these trends, as identified by one of the forecast authors, is the development of a worldwide computing grid layered on top of the Internet in which IT becomes a utility. Enterprises would access (and pay for) computing power offered by a service provider instead of operating their own data centres.

That trend will also have a huge effect on how IT departments operate, confirms Terry Retter, a director in the strategic technology centre of PricewaterhouseCoopers in Menlo Park, Calif., and a contributing editor to the report.

Retter says IT people will be more involved in infrastructure support and service delivery, and will need to learn how to deal with all kinds of service-providers from the ISPs to ASPs.

Companies are realizing they can obtain savings by outsourcing elements of their IT operations, he said. The emergence of the utility model is the next logical step.

There is, however, one serious roadblock to whether the utility model will be taking over any time soon.

“”No revenue model has been developed for how to pay for all this,”” says Retter. Another issue is security as it relates to transmitting all these services.

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