Cloud Computing Hits Puberty

Cloud Computing

Those of us fan boys who have seen and predicted the growth of cloud computing find is frustrating when we hopefully predict “this will be the year of mainstream cloud computing adoption” only to see a lukewarm take up from business. What makes it even more frustrating is that most organisations see the rake of benefits cloud computing would give them but hang around the side of the swimming pool, reluctant to dive in. Information Week, in its latest cloud survey doesn’t give much reason for optimism.

Good news Doubles

For the past five years as part of its annual cloud survey, InformationWeek Reports has asked a simple question: What are your company’s plans for cloud computing? The response we watch most closely is: We’re receiving services today from a cloud provider.

In 2008, 16% of survey respondents chose that option. In 2009, it was 21%, then 22% in 2010. It jumped to 31% last year, and to 33% this year. I guess the doubling of positive responses is good news but it isn’t going to have the pro cloud lobby rubbing its hands with glee!

Art Wittman in Information Week writes: “Compare the adoption rate for cloud services to another game-changing technology, virtualization. For almost every IT organization, virtualization isn’t a matter of whether but how much. No one questions virtualization’s core value proposition; the only question is about the breadth of applicability.

“In contrast, two-thirds of IT organizations either have decided the cloud isn’t for them or have yet to pull the trigger. The core value of the cloud is, in fact, in question.”

Cloud Seen As Risky

He adds: “One reason we didn’t see a bigger uptick in use is an increase in those who view cloud services as more risky than services from conventional providers. Last year, 44% (the largest percentage) said the risk was about the same; now 44% (the largest fraction this year too) say risk is higher with cloud providers. Both years, only 6% said risk is lower with cloud providers”.”

Wittman raises the very valid spectre that cloud computing providers aren’t helping themselves in encouraging organisations to embrace the services on offer. Pricing is, at best, inconsistent, service level agreements often contain more vapourware that the services they are supposed to be describing and not enough is being done to offer metrics by which to measure a return on investment.

He finishes off his assessment by stating: “The fact that hundreds of vendors are trying to solve these problems is in itself problematic. Before IT shops jump in universally, the way they did with virtualization, the cloud market will have to go through some growing pains, including vendor consolidation, development of better management and monitoring products, and a more sober assessment of the cost and value proposition.

Me? I’m going to start a draft “2013 will see mainstream adoption of cloud computing.” Well, someone has to be optimistic!

Kevin Tea is a journalist and marketing communications professional who has worked for some of the leading blue chip companies in the UK and Europe. In the 1990s he became interested in how emerging Internet-based technologies could change the way that people worked and became an administrator on the Telework Europa Forum on CompuServe. With other colleagues he took part in a four year European Commission sponsored project to look at the way that the Internet could benefit remote communities. His blog is a resource for SMEs who want to use cloud computing and Web 2.0 technologies.