Adoption of the cloud by both U.S. and European businesses is smashing all preconceived notions that indicated companies were moving warily into the technology, or holding off entirely, according to new research recently released and obtained by Cloud Computing.
The study, commissioned by CA (News - Alert) Technologies and conducted jointly by Luth Research and Vanson Bourne, found that not only are businesses large and small embracing the cloud, but they’re enjoying the savings that initially seemed to have been overhyped by cloud providers, and finding that their security concerns are being addressed and allayed.
Those surveyed – 542 organizations in the U.S. and Europe using various types of cloud for at least one year or more—confirm that cloud computing is delivering on all of the major promises vendors have made for it, most notably that it can save money and speed time-to-market. Experienced cloud users surveyed also shed light on the evolving nature of cloud and how, as use matures, the need for sophisticated IT management and security tools to guarantee cloud continues to deliver in the long term is becoming much greater.
The study also found that companies most experienced with cloud computing – four or more years or three or more types of cloud services consumed (Infrastructure as a Service, or IaaS; Platform as a Service, or PaaS; and Software as a Service, or SaaS (News - Alert)) – are now demanding IT management tools such as end-to-end service automation, service-level management across both cloud and non-cloud environments and the ability to switch between cloud service providers.
Among the findings of the research:
- Use of cloud computing has exploded in the past three years, with 87 percent of the respondents starting their use of cloud in that time frame.
- SaaS leads the way as the most widely implemented type of cloud service (94 percent of the U.S. and 68 percent of the Europe companies in the survey had implemented SaaS). IaaS and PaaS follow closely, only 10 to 15 percentage points behind SaaS.
- The U.S. is leading Europe in current cloud use. Fifty-five percent of the companies in the US have been in the cloud for three or more years, compared with 20 percent of Europe respondents. But Europe is catching up fast, with 38 percent of the Europe respondents using cloud for two to three years.
For some respondents of this survey, the cloud is helping to dispel the perception of IT as slow-moving, and is exceeding expectations with nearly half (or more) of all respondents indicating their cloud deployment was completed ahead of schedule. Deployment expectations may have been lower from fear of the unknown, or the touted complexity of the cloud – questions not raised in the study. However, the study also confirms that the speed of cloud deployment was a pleasant surprise for most respondents.
In fact, around 40 percent of the respondents reported that cloud is exceeding their expectations. Respondents attributed their success to it being “easier to implement than anticipated.”
And while “security” often appears at the top of the list of concerns related to cloud computing, the respondents in this study – those experienced with cloud computing – somewhat surprisingly reported turning to the cloud in an effort to improve security. Ninety-eight percent of enterprises surveyed reported that the cloud met or exceeded their expectations for security. This was true across users of IaaS, PaaS or SaaS. Furthermore, almost one third indicated “security has been less of an issue than originally thought” when asked to share their primary reasons for success with cloud computing. [INSERT FIGURE 5 HERE]
Yet the primary reason given by survey respondents that an app isn’t moved to the cloud suggests that companies understand the limitations of cloud and are taking a conscious and selective path in choosing which apps are moved to the cloud. Security (46 percent), privacy/legal (34 percent) and “certain apps are too core/critical to our business” (28 percent) rank as the top three reasons for keeping an app out of the cloud.
The apparent contradiction over the potential or perceived security risks associated with cloud computing and the results of this survey indicating security wasn’t an impediment to cloud overall—but perhaps to specific applications being put in the cloud—can be explained a few ways. For one, those experienced with cloud computing have improved their security practices in relation to cloud.
A recent Ponemon Institute (News - Alert) study sponsored by CA Technologies found that when compared to a similar 2010 study, more cloud computing applications are checked for security risks before use. Still the Ponemon study, which surveyed 748 IT and IT security practitioners located in the US, also noted that recommended security practices are still used by just 50 percent or less of those polled. Some of these include:
- Assessing the effect of cloud computing on the ability to protect confidential information;
- Being proactive in assessing information that is too sensitive to be stored in the cloud; and
- Auditing or assessing cloud computing resources before deployment.
The Needs of Management
Despite the increased benefit that those with more experience were gaining by using cloud computing, they were also more likely to express frustration with their inability to manage it.
One key part of the survey asked respondents to choose which capabilities they needed to ensure future cloud success.
The graph shows that in four specific areas, the longer a respondent used the cloud, the more likely they were to identify that capability as critical to cloud success.
The results were even more distinctive when comparing those who used all three types of cloud in their organizations against those who only used one (See Table 2, below). Across the board, experienced respondents were between 1.5 and 2 times as likely to say that a particular IT management capability was critical to their future cloud success.
The recognition that management’s needs mature as cloud deployments mature could be due in part to cloud implementations becoming stable, constant environments to which IT teams now need to apply the management principals of their primary environments. The pilot phase is over for many of the organizations surveyed by researchers, and now is the time to pull more value from cloud with the use of advanced automation and other technologies designed to help IT focus on higher-level projects.
Advice and Next Steps
Perhaps the key takeaway from this survey is that if you are not in the cloud yet, you need to get moving; there are substantial business and technology benefits to be gained. While it is possible there are still a lot of pilot projects in which companies are just testing cloud services, the number of companies that plan to spend greater than 30 percent more on cloud services this year shows that a substantial portion of the business world is moving beyond the pilot phase into more widespread use.
Any company still on the sidelines about adopting cloud technologies should really consider moving quickly, as leading companies have already done. Maybe that’s one of the reasons they are leaders.The full research whitepaper including a number of charts and graphs showing use and implementation numbers, along with a summary slide deck and executive summary infographic, is available as free download later at http://www.ca.com/cloud-success-factors
Edited by Alisen Downey