This post first appeared in the Constellation Insight newsletter, which features bespoke content weekly. 

We're careening into the second half of the year and it's always worth a bit of reflection. What stood out for me were the surprises.

Here's a quick look.

☁️ The private cloud is kind of cool now. You've seen the cloud providers all report slowing growth (except for Oracle coming off a smaller base), but the real surprise was that CIOs were thinking a lot more about the private cloud. Dion Hinchcliffe's research report on the private cloud's newfound popularity highlighted how platforms like HPE Greenlake were garnering demand. In a nutshell, public cloud providers haven't been passing on savings and encouraging enterprises to move workloads such as AI on-premise.

🤖 The intensity of the generative AI theme. Exiting 2022, it was clear that OpenAI captured lightning in a bottle. What wasn't clear: Generative AI euphoria would fuel the stock market, revive tech stocks and create a groundswell of press releases and product rollouts. When it comes to generative AI, the technology sector is taking a "build it and they will come" approach. Nvidia is the biggest winner in the generative AI buildout, but the wealth is starting to spread around. Enterprise tech buyers remain cautiously optimistic about generative AI, but acknowledge the potential risks too.

🏁 Big vendors move fast. In technology lore, the storyline is usually one that revolves around a startup upending a sleeping giant. Generative AI is an area that's highlighting how fast the giants are moving. Microsoft caught Google off guard and the latter rallied after a rough start. Salesforce outlined a generative AI roadmap in a hurry as did a bevy of other vendors. Quantum computing is being driven by giants too. Bottom line: It's way harder to sneak up on a giant today.

📉 The recession never happened. When the calendar turned to January, there was a wide consensus that the economy was going to struggle. Interest rates were surging, layoffs hit key sectors like technology and CFOs were hitting the brakes. Instead, inflation cooled a smidge, earnings weren't as horrible as expected and technology vendors saw stable demand. We're not out of the economic woods yet, but the first half didn't produce the slowdown expected.

👩🏽‍💻 The future of work isn't the present of work yet. I can't believe we're still debating the all-in-office approach vs. the all-remote approach. Like everything in life, the extreme cases are the few and the middle is the many. Downtown isn't booming, commercial real estate is a mess and clearly, we all didn't run back to the office. Nevertheless, the entirely remote work life is becoming rarer. It's obvious that a hybrid approach has emerged. Nevertheless, we'll keep arguing. Also see: How a writing-based culture can rewrite work