I started blogging about Cloud Computing over four years ago. At that point it was relatively new. A lot of CIOs were talking about it, but relatively few were actually spending money moving to it. The “experts” were mostly predicting great growth for the Cloud; as just one example, Novell predicted that the workloads running in the Cloud would grow from 2% in 2010 to 20% in 2015. Of course, most of these experts were in the Cloud industry and possibly with an inclination to hype the concept.
Four years later, how is Cloud Computing adoption doing?
As is almost always the case, not as well as predicted but better than you might have expected. Everest Group recently released its 2014 Enterprise Cloud Adoption Survey. Founded in 1991 and headquartered in Dallas, Texas, Everest Group is an advisor to business leaders on the next generation of global services with a worldwide reputation for helping Global 1000 firms dramatically improve their performance by optimizing their front-, mid-, and back-office business services.
Their most recent Cloud Adoption Survey shows that 56% of enterprises consider the Cloud as a strategic differentiator. These companies are putting their money on the Cloud, with 58% of the surveyed organizations spending more than 10% of their annual IT budget on Cloud solutions and services. These enterprises are no longer just experimenting with the Cloud, but are investing significantly in moving to the Cloud.
The survey also points out two continuing concerns about the Cloud: security and ease of migration.
Security concerns still exist, but the security picture of the Cloud is improving every year. Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) are gaining more expertise and making that expertise and the resulting best practices available to their customers. One impact is that many companies are going to private cloud implementations, and thus foregoing many of the cost savings and weakening the “pay for use” advantages of the Cloud. I have several posts specifically on Cloud Security, including a three-part introduction starting here, Secure Public Cloud, and most recently here.
The other continuing concern is ease of migration. CSPs will still tout how easy it is to move to their Cloud and most will offer you services to help you move at little or no cost. Your reality may be different. It is important to carefully plan your move, test the actual migration so you know how long it will really take, and then execute the move. As always, no matter what kind of an upgrade you are doing, have a fallback plan.
Your workloads are not all the same: their security, performance and availability requirements vary. Likewise, it is unlikely that a single Cloud solution will be the correct choice for your organization. Like with any product, if you only talk to one vendor you are likely to learn how that vendor’s product is best for you. You will usually be better off if you look at multiple vendors and match each application to the solution that best preserves your individual applications’ important security, performance and availability requirements. Most companies are likely to end up with a combination of different cloud models called a Hybrid Cloud.
As always, moving to the Cloud must be a business decision, not a technical decision. You should go to the Cloud because it makes good business sense for the reasons we have discussed earlier.
The last word:
Sometimes the biggest objections to moving to the Cloud will come from your own IT shop. They have provided you with a solution that is working at a predictable cost. Like in any outsourcing conversation, your IT team is probably concerned about what may happen to them. Your CIO may be worried that he or she will become irrelevant. They should be concerned, because it will change their world.
Because moving to the Cloud is a business decision, the key stakeholders in a Cloud implementation are likely to be the business owners within the company. However, the IT organization will remain critical to provide the leadership and overall management of your ever-changing Cloud environment. The Everest Group report indicates that over 75% of the surveyed organizations believe that the role of IT is increasing or is unchanged as they move to the Cloud. The focus of the CIO and the whole IT team needs to change from the day-to-day handling of the IT infrastructure to a more business-oriented approach of providing the IT services the business stakeholders require.
Keep your sense of humor.