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Next time someone starts in about how "the cloud is going to change everything," feel free to point out that "everything" has already changed. So say the 511 business IT professionals responding to our InformationWeek 2012 State of Cloud Computing Survey. Adoption of public cloud services has been on an upswing for the past four years, since we began keeping track. Today, just 27% give a thumbs down. In our 2008 cloud survey, people couldn't even agree on a definition--21% agreed that cloud was "pretty much a marketing term used haphazardly."
OK, so not everything has changed.
Still, frustration with vendor hype aside, all types of public cloud services--software, infrastructure, and platform as a service--are gaining followers. A third of companies use cloud services, and an additional 40% have plans for or are considering it. So we've got this figured out, right? Not so fast. Among cloud users, we're seeing major gaps in how IT organizations are selecting, integrating, and monitoring the services their employees depend on. The bulk of cloud initiatives are reactive, in response to line-of-business requirements or demands. IT rarely has an overarching vision of how it all fits together.
Don't believe us? Then explain why only 28% of IT organizations assess the potential impact of a cloud service on their internal architectures prior to going live--that's especially troubling given the upheaval our data centers are going through, as evidenced by the 71% of respondents to our IT Pro Ranking report on data center gear who are either in some stage of a network rearchitecture project or expect to be within 24 months. Or that 24% have no performance monitoring of cloud services.
It gets worse. Almost half of companies have opted to custom code each cloud application into internal back-end systems, with only 9% leveraging cloud integration providers. That's an expensive strategy given the aforementioned rearchitecture and convergence projects, and it's not money we need to spend: Integrators large and small have ready-made online integration tools, which can help you conserve bandwidth, as we'll discuss. Combine this customization nightmare with the fact that 73% of cloud users already use multiple providers, and we foresee a future where performance and reliability are bound to suffer.
Fortunately, only a minority are feeling the pain so far. Just 14% of respondents fired a cloud provider, with 22% of those saying it had a major or catastrophic impact on the business, while 81% think the performance of their cloud services is as good or better compared with what could be delivered in-house.