When I think back over the past few years to the conversations I’ve had with various cloud insiders, it’s no small wonder how quickly the industry has grown in a relatively short time. On the one hand, two to three years is an eternity in technology, but with the skepticism surrounding the idea of moving business critical applications and data into what was effectively an unknown environment, there was much to overcome and an entire industry driving growth.
Security may have been the tallest hurdle, as the whole world, it seemed, expressed distrust towards storing critical information and applications in an environment that couldn’t be monitored or managed like a corporate data center could. Sure, a limited amount of toying around in the cloud has always taken place, and a relatively small number of businesses made a more decisive move – some because they are perpetual early adopters, and others because they were in desperate need of cost saving opportunities. Still, common wisdom held that corporate-owned servers were a better alternative in most instances because internal IT had a much better sense of business requirements and how to secure the infrastructure than an entity that was merely leasing the space to hundreds or thousands of tenants and couldn’t possibly look out for each of their best interests.
That trend seemed to be reversing itself slowly until about a year ago, but today, based on a recent report put out by Sungard Availability Services, has taken a major turn towards the positive, with nearly half of businesses citing increased security as a reason for their interest in cloud. Interestingly, that beats out cost savings, agility, competitive advantage, and improvements in IT efficiency as the most frequently cited rationale.
The second point of interest in the same survey of IT decision makers is that, three years after cloud implementation, a strong majority of businesses are experiencing what Sungard calls a “cloud hangover” – lingering challenges resulting from their migrations. In fact, three-quarters of respondents say that, despite the benefits, cloud computing has created an entirely new set of challenges, including the need for additional external support, high costs of cloud management, and a more complex IT environment. The top challenges with cloud implementation reflect similar concerns around management and integration into existing infrastructure:
- Integrating initial cloud investments with new cloud services – 59 percent
- Implementing services from multiple vendors – 58 percent
- Aligning cloud deployments with business objectives – 57 percent
- Integrating cloud with legacy systems – 57 percent
- Delivering rapid ROI – 53 percent
These results should likely be given some latitude, though, as three years ago – even just a year ago – many of the cloud management and integration solutions that are widely available today didn’t exist. In fact, if this and recent issues of Cloud Computing are an indication, vendors are hard at work developing solutions designed specifically to cure these cloud hangovers. Consequently, one can expect the same survey to produce very different results in the coming years, as these same businesses implement new solutions to deliver greater visibility into and management of their cloud implementations.
The opening comment in the Sungard report may be somewhat obvious: “It seems that everybody
is going to the cloud party these days. Businesses are joining the party en masse, drawn by promises of low costs, simplicity, and a solution to all that ails them.” But the benefits are undeniable, and while there have clearly been growing pains, that is nearly always the case with new tech trends. But, equally consistent is the onslaught of solutions to ease these pains, which are likely to not only solve the problems early cloud adopters have experienced, but will help continue to drive up cloud utilization going forward. We look forward to keeping you abreast of all these trends in upcoming issues of Cloud Computing.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi