Two cloud surveys recently popped on to my screen, and the news was pretty much what cloud vendors have been hawking for the last year. You know the pitch by now: Cloud services are gaining enterprise acceptance; they are saving IT money and time; and while security is still perceived as a potential drawback, businesses are finding that the cloud isn't necessarily any riskier than internal hosting.
(Note my use of the word "cloud" as a noun, instead of a modifier. Clearly, I've succumbed to the subtle pressure of market-speak.)
But on closer inspection, the articles and presentations about these surveys indicate there may be some data items lurking behind the more obvious talking points.
Here's one example: According to the results of North Bridge Venture Partners' Future of Cloud Computing Survey 2012, of the 785 respondents to the survey (presumably from the US; the press materials don't say), 37 percent of cloud customers had "complete confidence" in the safety and viability of these services; 56 percent of vendors who responded to the survey reported the same way.
This means, however, that more than 60 percent of users and more than 40 percent of vendors polled do not have complete confidence in these services! Of course, it turns out that more than one-third of all respondents are experimenting with clouds and therefore perhaps are not quite ready to commit one way or the other.
In my cynicism, I take away that if only half of all respondents have complete confidence in clouds, that leaves half who don't, for one reason or another.
|Perception of cloud services
|Needs to mature
|No. of respondents
What's the problem here? Well, 55 percent of the North Bridge respondents said security was the main inhibitor to adoption. The other biggest inhibitors were regulatory compliance (38 percent) and vendor lock-in (32 percent).
One more thing: The fact that 65 percent of the respondents to the North Bridge survey were vendors doesn't reflect well on the security issue. As the blogger Rodney Brown put it in a post this week:
The cloud industry as a whole has to stop making that statement if it wants the perception of the cloud as an unsecure place to disappear. This would be like executives at the Smart car division of Daimler AG saying, "Our cars are popular, but I don't think most people will drive them, because they think they aren't safe."
Here's another example of hidden messages about clouds, this time from a national survey by Rackspace Hosting. Though Rackspace likes the result that 48 percent ("less than half!") of the 500 IT decision makers it polled would take a job with a company that did not use cloud computing, that nevertheless leaves just 28 percent who would not work at a cloudless firm. And 24 percent don't know what choice they would make.
Back to the North Bridge Venture Partners' survey. Though 53 percent of respondents now think the cloud "makes IT manageability less complex" (compared with 39 percent who thought so in 2011), 53 percent believe the cloud lowers total cost of ownership, compared with 57 percent who thought so last year. Guys, that's not heading in the "right" direction.
There's a lot more in these press materials, but there aren't many surprises. SaaS "rules," says North Bridge, and services break down as follows: archiving (43 percent), business continuity (25 percent), collaboration tools (22 percent), and "big data processing" (19 percent). Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) are still on the horizon.
Yawn. Wake me up when we get there, OK?
— Mary Jander , Managing Editor, Internet Evolution