Gartner’s recent survey of the enterprise cloud market presented a range of interesting findings. Conducted across ten countries, the study found that cloud services were, as expected, one of the leading trends for IT departments and businesses in 2014.
However despite significant levels of investment, many businesses are still unsure why they should consider migrating to the cloud. For example, 40% of respondents saw the cloud as a method for delivering a reduction in IT costs, but that still leaves 60% who believe differently.
Cost is important, but is the financial director’s objective always the same as the IT department, or more importantly, that of the end-user? It is crucial the whole business agrees on such an important IT decision.
This filters through to the apparent variation in how junior and senior IT staff view the cloud. For those in junior roles cost was the chief reason for adoption, but CIOs and IT directors perceived ‘cloud is a modern approach’, ‘innovation’ and ‘operational agility’, as well as ‘business advantage’ as the most critical drivers.
Ben Rossi, writing about the survey for Information Age, explained: “Gartner concluded that CIOs are focused on using the cloud to establish a modern, innovative IT environment with operational agility and business advantage as key outcomes, whereas business leaders (non-IT) still see the cloud as a means to save costs and may not yet have full appreciation for the business benefits or the strategic opportunity of using cloud services.”
Many CIOs are being forced to think broader in how they position the cloud to the CEO and to the business as a whole. The cloud is not a snap decision, it can fundamentally affect how a business functions, so it is important everyone is on the same page with their expectations.
An issue that arises from this requirement for accountability is data security, and for multi-site organisations, data sovereignty. In the wake of a number of high profile breaches, security is becoming as critical as availability for those responsible for cloud deployments.
As Laurie Wurster, research director at Gartner, explained, “Data loss, data breaches, insecure application programming interfaces and shared technology in a multi-tenant environment are just a few of the concerns expressed by respondents tackling the option of using public cloud.”
A move to the cloud from an internal delivery model can be challenging from a security perspective, which is why it is not surprising to see respondents react to this issue by driving the growth of private cloud solutions at a rate almost double that of public cloud deployments.
Software-as-a-service (SaaS) appears to be the final consideration as Fabrizio Biscotti, research director at Gartner, explained, “Cloud-hosted applications continue to grow as alternatives to internally managed systems; they will generate increasing demand for SaaS extension and integration — both functions of PaaS offerings.”
He continued, “Of all the cloud technological aspects for which respondents indicated investments, PaaS, IaaS and SaaS are the most mature and established from a cloud landscape perspective, while PaaS is the least evolved.”
This variation demonstrates how important it is to approach the cloud cautiously. Businesses should not rush into a cloud-first future unless they are sure the supporting infrastructure can cope and there is a real need for solutions by the workforce. The cloud can have a hugely positive impact on a business, but only if it is dealt with in the right manner.