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Commentary

Survey: Fear Slows Cloud Computing Adoption

A survey of 500 C-level executives and IT managers yields some interesting attitudes toward cloud computing. The bottom line is that while many business and technology managers see potential value in the cloud, fears over security and control are holding them back.
A survey of 500 C-level executives and IT managers yields some interesting attitudes toward cloud computing. The bottom line is that while many business and technology managers see potential value in the cloud, fears over security and control are holding them back.The survey was conducted by Kelton Research and sponsored by IT consultancy Avanade. It was completed by respondents in 17 countries, making it possible to compare and contrast results in different parts of the world.

U.S. respondents tend to have a better understanding of cloud computing and be further along in adoption than their counterparts in other countries. According to the survey, 91% of U.S. respondents were "familiar" with cloud computing compared with 61% worldwide. And more than half of U.S. respondents use a combination of internal IT systems and cloud services (i.e., hybrid clouds) compared with one-third of companies worldwide.

Hold on a second -- I find that last data point hard to believe. Half of U.S. respondents already use cloud computing? That's a higher percentage than I've seen before. Presumably, respondents had Web hosting, Salesforce.com, and other software-as-a-service in mind when answering that question and not pure cloud services such as Amazon's EC2 or Google App Engine.

The survey also found -- and this I believe -- that there's a substantial gap between companies that see potential value in cloud computing and those that are actually doing it. A majority of respondents reported that their internal IT systems are too expensive, and two-thirds view cloud computing is a way to reduce up-front costs. Yet more than 80% of those with only internal IT systems didn't plan on integrating any form of cloud computing over the next 12 months.

The reason for their inaction: By a five-to-one margin, respondents feel that their own IT systems are more secure than the cloud. "Fears about security and control of data are limiting its broad adoption," observes Tyson Hartman, Avanade's global CTO.

Hartman describes the need to overcome "perceived barriers" as a pressing issue confronting the IT industry. Perceived barriers? In the past few days, platform-as-a-service vendor Coghead disclosed that it's going out of business, and Google's Gmail service suffered another outage. Some of that fear is grounded in reality.