Technologists like proofs of concept. The testing – formal, informal or otherwise – that shows without much doubt something will work. And business leaders prefer when technology doesn’t negatively impact the bottom line; better yet, the business wants to see revenue increases thanks to an IT investment.
I was lucky to get a preview of the cloud report we just made available today, and there’s a lot of good news for those of us in IT. Maybe surprising for some market watchers, the data proves cloud computing works and that it delivers on its cost-saving and speedier time-to-market promises. Those results should make both IT and the business happy. Forty percent of the 542 IT decision makers across the US and Europe surveyed said their cloud implementations exceeded expectations, while the majority confirmed cloud deployments met initial goals.
This tells me that now companies can claim true experience with cloud computing; one-third of all respondents indicated they had been using cloud for three or more years. That is more than a proof of concept; that’s real-world experience with both the ups and downs. We can also look to these respondents with longer and more diverse experience for a hands-on view of cloud’s management challenges, which apps are best suited for the cloud, how security approaches have evolved and plans for future cloud investments.
The big take-away –that cloud works – means IT decision makers can now confidently move forward with planned deployments, pitch cloud to the business as a proven, viable option and expand current implementations to address more mature IT needs. No longer is cloud just a great concept in theory; there is practical proof that it works. And when something works, generally you do it more.
Where’s the proof to support this? Those using cloud computing for four or more years are almost six times more likely (34% compared to 6%) to increase cloud spending by more than 30%. This one finding tells us that, as companies gain more experience with cloud computing, they are willing to take even bolder steps with it. To me that means cloud is becoming an increasingly important piece of their IT strategy.
While success stories dominated this study, we wouldn’t be doing our jobs if we didn’t make sure to uncover some important lessons learned. The more nuanced results of the survey tell us that IT management will be the next hurdle for the industry to clear. And IT security, in particular advanced identity and access management, will further cloud success for many organizations.
Let’s start with IT management. The survey showed that those using cloud for a longer period of time gained more benefits from it. These same respondents were also more likely to note their inability to adequately manage the environment. IT decision makers most experienced with cloud now need 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.
This makes perfect sense. As cloud environments mature and IT departments depend upon them to support critical applications, the cloud space will require the same or better management that traditional environments need. Also as more companies adopt cloud for specific applications or services to run alongside on-premise apps, the need to manage across environments with a holistic approach grows.
We’ve been through this before: remember multiple tools to manage virtual and physical servers, sometimes a different tool per vendor? No one wants to have to use myriad management tools to track performance, availability and more. Whittling down the number needed to optimize performance across a heterogeneous environment that now also extends to private, public and hybrid cloud is a logical next step for power cloud users.
Learning that the need for IT management capabilities increases as cloud use increases isn’t so surprising, but data related to security and cloud could shock some.
Security was often cited as a reason for success in the cloud, and many companies are moving to the cloud to improve security. Ninety-eight percent of enterprises surveyed said the cloud met or exceeded their expectations for security. Still security continues to remain as a primary reason an application is not moved into the cloud (46% of respondents cited this).
These seemingly contradictory findings can be explained. For one, companies that might not be able to invest heavily in their own, multiple security systems could turn to cloud vendors to provide that secure environment. As cloud deployments mature, so should organizations’ approach to secure identity and access management.
Separate survey data suggests those experienced with cloud computing have improved their security practices in relation to cloud, at least in the US. A recent Ponemon Institute study, also sponsored by CA Technologies, found that when compared to a similar 2010 study, more cloud computing applications are checked for security risks before use.
These findings should encourage experienced cloud users to shift their goals from the early benefits of cost savings to focusing on increasing innovation. Those in the starter stages of cloud implementations can take these findings to their business leaders and make their case for the environment as a viable, cost-effective alternate to doing things the same old way. And those considering cloud, what are you waiting for?
As an industry, there is still much to be done. Vendors need to continue developing and delivering the advanced IT management and security technologies needed to truly optimize cloud environments. And IT decisions makers and business leader must aggregate their best practices to maintaining successful IT operations in private, public and hybrid clouds.
These survey results tell me that IT organizations can’t let their cloud deployment stagnate in the early stages; they must take the next steps to fostering enhanced innovation and superior performance by upping their game. The proof is there; cloud works. Now how are you going to make cloud work for you?