Cloud Services: Young and Growing—but Need to Bridge the Technology/Business Gap

October 15, 2012 No Comments

By David A. Kelly, Upside Research

Cloud Market Growing sm Cloud Services: Young and Growing—but Need to Bridge the Technology/Business GapCloud maturity is only in its infancy, according to a recent study by the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) and ISACA. Released last month, the study, 2012 Cloud Computing Market Maturity Study Results, presents a helpful view into where cloud services lie on the maturity scale, and the positives and negatives of its current position. It is important to note that the majority of the participants in the study (85.4%) have identified themselves as cloud users – and many of these are also cloud service providers of some sort. So, the survey group is comprised of an inordinate amount of early adopters of cloud services who have their finger on the pulse of the market. While they are not necessarily representative of the greater population as a whole in terms of cloud adoption, their experience with cloud and their perspective on cloud’s ups and downs is helpful for C-level executives, regardless of cloud adoption stage.

The headlines from the study point to cloud services’ current position on the maturity scale as being in late infancy. Respondents estimated that it will take approximately three years for the majority of cloud services to be well established in the growth stage of cloud maturity. Of the three types of cloud services, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), only SaaS has moved beyond infancy into early growth stage.

I believe this is an accurate reflection of the current state of the market, since SaaS has been around longer than IaaS and PaaS, and many organizations are comfortable enough with the notion of hosted applications (the adoption rates for are enough to prove this) that they have at least one enterprise application that is, in part, structured as a SaaS model. It also holds true that IaaS and PaaS are still in infancy in terms of maturity and adoption because this is the area where many of the concerns over cloud arise. I covered some of the notorious cloud outages several months ago (see Recent Cloud Outages Not for the Faint of Heart ). Unfortunately, every time the cloud makes headlines in such a scenario as an outage, many of the enterprise concerns with cloud services re-surface and cause additional hesitation on the part of the market.

Among the problems holding back cloud adoption that participants identified were information security, data ownership and custodian responsibilities, legal issues, and provider longevity. This brings up some important considerations with cloud that IT organizations need to entertain. The longevity of a provider is naturally a concern, and it will take time for the market to reach a provider maturity level that will make customers comfortable. The presence of market-leading enterprise providers like IBM, HP, Microsoft, and Oracle is reassuring. More importantly, understanding data ownership and custodian responsibilities is a major consideration for IT organizations. There needs to be clear education on the part of the cloud services market regarding ownership and responsibilities, and potential customers should have a solid understanding of where the hand-offs will occur.

An underlying theme of the study and what it depicts in terms of wider cloud services adoption is the challenge of helping enterprises see cloud more from a business than a technological standpoint. The study authors state, “As these study results demonstrate, cloud computing is treated primarily as a technical innovation rather than as a business enabler, and its associated risk is addressed from a technical rather than operational, or enterprise, perspective.” Until cloud service providers work to educate and involve C-level management about how cloud can transform their business, it will continue to be perceived as a technology-oriented decision. This is unfortunate, because the real potential of the cloud and cloud services goes beyond technology toward enabling tomorrow’s connected, global enterprise to compete better, innovate faster, and leap ahead of the competition.


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