The perceived wisdom that most IT decision makers view cloud as a threat rather than opportunity may be an outdated anachronism. Certainly it's contradicted by the findings from a survey of attendees at enterprise application vendor Infor's global user conferences this fall, which I can exclusively share with you today. With a large concentration of manufacturing industry and mid-sized businesses in Infor's user base, you'd expect them to be more conservative than the most. But their response was overwhelmingly positive when asked, 'Do you believe that Cloud represents an opportunity or threat to your organisation?' A massive 89 percent described cloud as an opportunity, leaving just 11 percent calling it a threat.
When asked to specify the nature of the opportunity, more than two-thirds picked 'reduce our IT infrastructure costs' as the most important factor, while 29 percent said, 'Cloud will help to manage peaks and troughs in system usage.' Among the 1 in 10 who saw cloud as a threat, almost half cited security, while almost as many said, 'Reliance on external networks and bandwidth will expose us to additional risk.' For 9 out of every 10 respondents, however, the opportunities for lower costs and smoother performance outweighed any worries they may have felt.
Findings like these may give Oracle's former president Charles Phillips pause for thought as he formally takes over the reins as CEO at Infor later this week. There's been no public comment on what his strategy will be, but in a recent podcast interview, Infor's chief strategy officer and former AMR analyst Bruce Richardson told me, "Knowing how he works ... he's going to narrow the focus so that we're definitely associated with some of the fast-growing products." SaaS clearly falls into that category, and it's an area that Phillips has personally briefed me on while at Oracle, so he evidently takes a keen interest.
In a two-part podcast interview, Richardson told me about Infor's SaaS product line and some of the benefits customers are realizing from adopting cloud services. But although an increasing number of Infor customers are including SaaS in their proposal requests, there's little sign that any of them are switching 100 percent to the cloud. Richardson predicted that most of the company's customer base is destined to pursue a hybrid environment that combines cloud and on-premise assets "for a long, long, long time."