Cloud Adoption Grows Despite New Challenges

By Samuel Greengard  |  Posted 10-01-2013
cloud computing

By Samuel Greengard

Over the last few years, cloud computing has fundamentally changed the nature of IT and business. It has created new opportunities and introduced more efficient ways to manage everything from data and software to infrastructure and platforms. However, a new report from 451 Research, in conjunction with the Uptime Institute and the Yankee Group, indicates that a number of non-IT related obstacles are slowing the pace of project completions.

The report, TheInfoPro Wave 5 Cloud Computing Study, notes that 60 percent of respondents view cloud computing as a natural evolution of IT service delivery and, as a result, do not allocate separate budgets for cloud computing projects. However, among the group that does establish a separate budget for cloud projects, 69 percent expect to increase their spending over the next two years.

Not surprisingly, private clouds continue to dominate the IT landscape. Overall, 61 percent of respondents use internal clouds for virtualization, 26 percent rely on them for automation, 10 percent for orchestration, 2 percent for consolidation and 1 percent for standardization. However, over the past six months, Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS) activity doubled to between 30 percent and 33 percent of the total projects mentioned.

"Current adoption of cloud computing is a work in progress for most organizations as they continue to implement server virtualization, automation and orchestration capabilities that are the prerequisite underpinnings for the majority of cloud-ready data centers,” says Peter ffoulkes, research director for servers, virtualization and cloud computing at TheInfoPro, a branch of 451 Research.

But the report also found that despite growing cloud adoption, 83 percent of respondents face significant roadblocks when it comes to deploying projects. The figure rose by 9 percent since the end of 2012. Interestingly, IT roadblocks have declined to 15 percent while non-IT roadblocks have increased to 68 percent. Respondents cited a number of general issues, mostly revolving around people, processes, budgets, time, politics, security challenges, contractual agreements and change management issues. These "non-IT roadblocks are usually harder to solve than technology problems," ffoulkes says.

Regulatory and compliance issues, particularly as they pertain to a cloud environment, are another pain point. Too often, respondents noted, cloud-based systems are set up on a pass/fail basis and they don't adequately address the nuances of today's business and IT environment, particularly in the security arena. As a result, some professionals are shying away from cloud projects they might otherwise embrace.

ffoulkes says that there are a number of key takeaways for CIOs and other business and IT leaders. They include:

  • It's crucial to have a clear understanding of organizational requirements and to deal with technology issues. But executives must also focus on "cultural and organizational change management" in order to enable a successful transition to the cloud.
  • Rejection and selection criteria are different, ffoulkes points out. It's important to separate these issues and understand what drives each decision.
  • Costs can always be negotiated, but security, reliability, integration, service levels and compliance issues are not negotiable.
  • It's critical to build a high level of flexibility in a cloud infrastructure. The environment is likely to change significantly over the next few years and an organization should have an "escape route" in something goes astray.
  • Transparency is critical. Visibility into technology and processes is essential and an enterprise must be able to control and audit systems easily and effectively.
  • Security must be built into the foundation of any cloud environment.

"The cloud is the foreseeable future for IT but it will exist in many different forms and will evolve significantly over the next several years,” ffoulkes concludes. He says that today's business and IT leaders must change with the evolving cloud space or wind up being replaced. "The transition to cloud computing models is an inevitable evolution of IT delivery."