Cloud Computing Checkpoint

By Dale Vile


Views of cloud computing are wide, varied and often contradictory

When 318 IT and business professionals were asked to sum up their view of cloud computing in a recent online study, a whole spectrum of opinions came back, from positive revolution at one end of the scale to extreme scepticism at the other. At the moment, ambiguous and wildly differing marketing messages are driving attention, but they are also perpetuating confusion and uncertainty.

But a core of acceptance suggests a growing acknowledgement of mainstream readiness

Despite the communication gap between buyers and sellers, indications are that we might be entering a new phase of market evolution, in which cloud options are starting to be viewed as ‘normal’ by those who make it through the marketing noise. With familiar incumbents extending their offerings into the cloud arena, cloud services are now being worked into the plans and activities of conservative as well as progressive organisations.

Experienced adopters see cloud services as complementary to traditional options

Those with early experience have largely concluded that cloud services complement rather than replace traditional hosting options. On-demand/elastic IaaS and PaaS have an important role to play to support transient needs, bursty applications, and other workloads with fluctuating demands, but traditional co-location remains more suitable for the majority of applications with more predictable resource requirements. A continued role for traditional managed services and application hosting options is also perceived.

‘Utility SaaS’ has the broadest appeal of all cloud service options

SaaS services relating to general purpose horizontal applications such as email, content management, and collaboration figure more prominently in plans and activities than more complex application services such as ERP, full scope CRM and line of business solutions. Furthermore, while ‘Complex SaaS’ and traditional application services appeal more to larger enterprises, the value of ‘Utility SaaS’ is recognised by all sizes of organisation. For those starting out with cloud services, email and other horizontal solutions that are used largely ‘as is’ are worth exploring.

The role of ‘Private cloud’ is acknowledged to help with ongoing infrastructure optimisation

Even in our cloud-savvy research sample, the majority are clear that optimisation of on-premise systems has to be at least part of the equation. With this in mind, clear opportunities exist to drive better responsiveness and more efficient resource utilisation through the adoption of private cloud. The ‘service-centric’ mind-set that underpins cloud computing in general also means that private cloud adoption frequently goes hand in hand with the use of hosted cloud services. The ‘hybrid cloud’ architectures that result from this sit very well with the inclusive nature of real world IT.

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Dale is a co-founder of Freeform Dynamics, and today runs the company. As part of this, he oversees the organisation’s industry coverage and research agenda, which tracks technology trends and developments, along with IT-related buying behaviour among mainstream enterprises, SMBs and public sector organisations.