As enterprises deploy important applications in the cloud, they're finding that the technology isn't magic. Cloud deployments bring their own challenges and problems.
These include procurement, cost tracking, integration with other systems, and transforming IT, according to a report from CompTIA.
Start with "rogue IT." That's where lines of business procure their own cloud solutions without involving IT. It's an ongoing problem, but one that is diminishing, according to the report. Potential problems from rogue IT include security breaches, downtime, and integration. "These complications, which end up costing the company more than installing the proper solution to begin with, could be leading to mandates from executive management to better centralize technology decisions."
Though rogue IT is a problem, effective cloud procurement doesn't mean giving the IT department full control and final approval. Often, business owners know their own needs best -- for example, in finances, HR, or customer relations. IT is primarily procurement agent for applications with companywide impact, including email, collaboration, and business productivity. But business lines may become more interested in their own versions of these applications as they become more technically savvy.
Coming up with a procurement and usage plan that meets the needs of all parties is one of the great challenges not just for cloud computing, but also for many technologies that are entering businesses today. Companies need to build a top-down understanding of how needs will be presented, how tradeoffs will be made, and how risks will be accepted or mitigated. The data shows that organizations are moving in the right direction, but this remains an area where best practices can be established and shared.
Cost is the followup to procurement, according to the report. Enterprises are finding cost surprises, such as higher usage costs, staff training, and network upgrades. Twelve percent of enterprises are finding savings to be lower than estimated, while 9% of companies aren't even tracking costs.
That's the bad news. The good news is that most enterprises that have adopted the cloud find that cost savings have met or exceeded original estimates.
Integration is another concern. Though integration with other systems is a challenge for new cloud users, companies with more than three years of adoption history are finding that modifying policy is the bigger problem. That shows transforming business practices is just as tricky as technical migration.
Other potential problems include vendor lock-in, availability, and performance. Vendor lock-in is primarily an issue for more mature enterprises, after early adopters start exploring other cloud options. "Availability and performance, though, are slightly more surprising. One might expect that companies would set their expectations in these areas early in the adoption process and adjust as they build out more robust systems," the report said. "It seems that the opposite is happening -- companies become more concerned as they spend more time with cloud systems and consider placing more business-critical applications in the cloud."
Check out this infographic from CompTIA highlighting key points of the report.