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Cloud computing is rapidly taking its place as the most disruptive technology of the decade. Research organization Gartner has placed cloud computing at the very top of its list of the “Top 10 strategic technology areas for 2010”, up from its number three position last year.

It’s no longer just a buzzword, vaporware, or something that hasn’t yet been proven. It’s not just for the early adopters, it’s gone mainstream. Gartner sees a very broad range of users taking advantage of the cloud in the near future. To date, many people have asked the question, “is cloud computing suitable for enterprise computing?” And the answer is a resounding “yes”. With excellent performance metrics, strong security and availability of a powerful infrastructure, it’s ready to roll. Gartner visualizes enterprise customers making use of cloud computing to act as cloud providers themselves, pushing out data, applications, and services to their own customers and business partners.

In relation to cloud computing, Gartner also highlights the advantages of virtualization. By abstracting the server layer, and creating virtual barriers between a single physical piece of equipment, the actual choice of hardware—and even the OS—is becoming less important, according to Gartner.

According to the Gartner analysts, it’s no longer a question of whether or not cloud computing will work for you, it’s just a matter of deciding which cloud services will give you the greatest value, how to write applications that run on cloud services, and whether or not to use a private cloud, a cloud service, or a combination of the two.