Cloud Computing

Keith Tilley (UK) - Why UK CIOs Remain Wary of Cloud Hype - Part I

Cloud computing has positioned itself as something of a new frontier for technology: a game-changing revolution in how IT is delivered to businesses. Gartner, for example, predicts the worldwide cloud services market for Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) to reach as much as $10 billion in 2014. So, in the eyes of top IT executives, how much of it is hype? And is the cloud meeting the needs of these under-pressure CIOs?

With this in mind, we recently conducted research along with Vanson Bourne, questioning 250 UK CIOs on their perspectives around cloud[1] computing. One of the most striking findings was that an overwhelming proportion (86%) of CIOs believes the cloud has been over-hyped. It also found that the biggest challenges cloud computing poses to UK CIOs are exactly the same from those that have always been faced throughout their technology careers. Keeping data secure and resilient, cost-cutting while maintaining or increasing service levels, and the logistics of moving IT to new platforms remain constant concerns - cloud or not. Reinforcing this view is that 3/4 of CIOs (74%) agree that the move to the cloud is no different from past major IT transitions in which they have been involved.

From harking back to IT developments of the previous decade, to illustrating the lack of impact cloud computing has had on any key business challenges, today's CIO is evidently sceptical of the potential game-changing credentials of cloud technologies. It begs the obvious question: if cloud computing cannot address the most important issues of those who are ultimately responsible for information within organisations, can it really impact upon the business landscape in the way that is being predicted?

Some explanation of these views can be found in further feedback from the CIOs we spoke with, who are clearly demanding that cloud providers demonstrate greater clarity and visibility into the capabilities of their solutions. Too often vendors build clouds which promise - quite legitimately - reduced cost and greater flexibility, but treat availability and security, CIOs' greatest cloud concerns, almost as an afterthought. All the marketing collateral is centred around the advantages of putting data into the cloud, but businesses absolutely have to know if they are able to get it back, or indeed if the ability to transfer their data from a cloud vendor back in-house, or to another vendor in the future exists.

It is easy to get caught up in the hype surrounding the cloud; vendors are offering hybrid, premise/cloud, and appliance/service offerings that promise to allow organisations to work around IT constraints without sacrificing the control and ownership of key processes and data. However, to achieve these benefits, customers must ask some tough questions to their cloud provider to get exactly the information they need that makes the cloud a business case rather than succumbing to marketing hype.

The white paper, 'Cloud - Challenges and Opportunities for the C-Suite', based upon the research findings may be obtained here.

[1] The research defined Cloud as: the provision of IT infrastructure in a virtualised environment which could take the form of a Public Cloud (e.g. Amazon and Google) or a Private Cloud where the physical location of the virtual assets are known and may be run internally or purchased ‘as a Service' from a third-party provider.

Keith Tilley, managing director UK and executive vice president Europe for SunGard Availability Services



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