Security, performance, fear or confusion: what's holding back cloud adoption?

Clive Longbottom, Service Director

Quocirca Comment
Cloud is often positioned as the option for computing that saves money – and there is little that can be argued about this as a basic premise, as long as a move to cloud is done for the right reasons. One "right reason" is choosing a cloud provider because it has greater expertise in an area than your organisation does – for example, using a provider such as Concur to manage online expenses, or one like GXS for business-to-business (B2B) transactions. Another reason to choose cloud is if your organisation needs to outsource the implementation and management of the basic technology platform to an external company due to an internal lack of skills. If such basic reasons are the drivers and prior due diligence is done on the capabilities, qualities and financial health of the company you are outsourcing to, then cloud should result in cost savings at the business level. However, just assuming that using cloud will automatically save money is a fallacy. For example, a lowest-cost provider has to have a lowest-cost system in order to be profitable – overheads will be squeezed; the required skills base may be lacking. Back up and restores may not be carried out effectively; equipment may not be maintained to the correct levels. By going for a lowest-cost provider, the result may well be that your organisation becomes dependent on a technology platform that is inflexible and fails on a regular basis – you may be paying a low monthly subscription to use the system, but the business cost could be high. Once the "right reasons" for looking at cloud as a future platform have been considered, the current state of the markets when it comes to moving to cloud needs to be examined. Quocirca carried out two sets of research for Oracle in February and November 2011. They uncovered some interesting views about cloud from organisations around the world. Whereas many vendors and industry commentators tend to see cloud as being well progressed within organisations, real-world feedback does not necessarily support such a view. For example, there is still a sizeable proportion of respondents that regard cloud as either not for their organisation or just a passing fad. Although this has dropped from 28% to 21.5%, this still leaves over one in five organisations not seeing much promise through cloud computing. At the other end of the scale however, those seeing cloud as an important or critical part of their future IT platform has grown from 44% to 54%. There is movement in perceptions, but much still has to be done in order to make cloud be perceived as a mainstream technology platform. When looking at current plans to adopt cloud, 18.5% state that they have no plans, with a further 10% being "don't knows". Only 7.5% state that they will use a hybrid mix of public and private clouds in order to support their organisation. This points towards a lack of full understanding of what cloud offers and how it can work – and the fault for this has to be laid at those same vendors and commentators who seem to have put forward a complex and confused message as to what cloud computing actually is. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has come up with a definition that covers five essential characteristics of cloud computing, along with three service models and four deployment models. It may sound complex, but the NIST model is the most simple of the many that can be seen in the public domain.

Security, performance, fear or confusion: what's holding back cloud adoption?

http://www.quocirca.com

© 2012 Quocirca Ltd

Once a definition of cloud has been decided upon, the real arguments for and against cloud computing can be addressed. When discussing cloud with organisations, Quocirca hears several arguments as to why the cloud may have great promise for some people – but also why it is not for them. Cost and flexibility top the reasons why organisations are looking at cloud, but security, performance and a sheer visceral fear of the unknown seem to paralyse the actual movement of many organisations from internal systems that are currently constraining their capabilities to a more flexible cloud-based environment. The visceral fear aspect is the one that is likely to disappear fastest. The "server huggers" who regarded any form of outsourcing as worrisome have now seen how outsourcers can add value to businesses when the outsourcing is done correctly. Understanding that cloud is just another form of outsourcing is the next step, and provided there are no large failures in the cloud model in the coming months, the fear of the unknown will decrease. Performance is an issue, if the correct approach is not taken. An external data centre removed from the locality of the organisation cannot fight the laws of physics – every extra metre of distance will add a small yet incremental delay to the response of the system. Wherever possible, all of the application should be within the single cloud data centre. This way, the high speed

internal network can be used for data transfers – and only the presentation layer (the screen output) needs to be sent over the wider network. In this way, performance should be fine for the majority of cases. This leaves security – an area where 36% of respondents said that they had had major issues. Part of this reflects the visceral side of things – if the equipment where the data resides is not owned by the organisation, then security issues can be amplified. However, Quocirca recommends that an intellectual property approach is taken, where information is secured in itself, based on the context of the access and irrespective of where it is stored. For example, an employee sitting at a desk in a controlled business environment would have different access rights than a mobile worker coming in over a public WiFi network abroad. Cloud has much to offer, and organisations should be preparing themselves for adopting it as a part of their overall technology platform. However, greater knowledge of what cloud can offer is required and this is not likely to come directly from the providers as yet. Start with NIST's definition, and apply any sales pitch against this. The correct adoption of cloud could be a complete game changer for your organisation.

This article first appeared on The Guardian

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media-network

Security, performance, fear or confusion: what's holding back cloud adoption?

http://www.quocirca.com

© 2012 Quocirca Ltd

About Quocirca
Quocirca is a primary research and analysis company specialising in the business impact of information technology and communications (ITC). With world-wide, native language reach, Quocirca provides in-depth insights into the views of buyers and influencers in large, mid-sized and small organisations. Its analyst team is made up of realworld practitioners with first-hand experience of ITC delivery who continuously research and track the industry and its real usage in the markets. Through researching perceptions, Quocirca uncovers the real hurdles to technology adoption – the personal and political aspects of an organisation’s environment and the pressures of the need for demonstrable business value in any implementation. This capability to uncover and report back on the end-user perceptions in the market enables Quocirca to advise on the realities of technology adoption, not the promises. Quocirca research is always pragmatic, business orientated and conducted in the context of the bigger picture. ITC has the ability to transform businesses and the processes that drive them, but often fails to do so. Quocirca’s mission is to help organisations improve their success rate in process enablement through better levels of understanding and the adoption of the correct technologies at the correct time. Quocirca has a pro-active primary research programme, regularly surveying users, purchasers and resellers of ITC products and services on emerging, evolving and maturing technologies. Over time, Quocirca has built a picture of long term investment trends, providing invaluable information for the whole of the ITC community. Quocirca works with global and local providers of ITC products and services to help them deliver on the promise that ITC holds for business. Quocirca’s clients include Oracle, Microsoft, IBM, O2, T-Mobile, HP, Xerox, EMC, Symantec and Cisco, along with other large and medium sized vendors, service providers and more specialist firms.

Full access to all of Quocirca’s public output (reports, articles, presentations, blogs and videos) can be made at http://www.quocirca.com

Security, performance, fear or confusion: what's holding back cloud adoption?

http://www.quocirca.com

© 2012 Quocirca Ltd

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