Aussie cloud adoption sluggish, but not for long: IBM

As more cloud providers set up shop in Australia, local organisations are getting more comfortable with adopting cloud services, according to IBM.

Despite the IT industry hyping up cloud computing for a number of years, actual adoption rates by enterprises have been slow, to say the least. But the tide is finally turning, according to IBM.

In the vendor's new Truth Behind the Trends report, IBM spoke to 87 IT executives across different industries to understand the extend to which common IT trends are embraced in the real world. The research found that many organisations are still only just planning or researching cloud services.

The perceived risks of going to the cloud are a major factor in Australia's lagging cloud take-up rates, including concerns about data sovereignty. According to the IBM report, 80 percent of respondents said that data sovereignty remains the biggest challenge for organisations that are considering adopting cloud services.

But as more and more providers set up datacentre operations in Australia, it opens up more options for organisations to embrace the cloud, according to IBM cloud expert Anton Lak.

"It's only in the last 12 months that we've seen an increased amount of infrastructure based in Australia, hence it is easier for Australian organisations to do it without concern," he said. "It's the Australian component that will really make a difference to them in deciding whether or not to put their toes in the water."

Some of the cloud providers that have recently invested in local infrastructure include Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Rackspace, and IBM itself.

While IBM noted that data sovereignty is a "perceived risk" and not an "actual risk", the vendor is still keen on urging customers to think carefully on this issue.

"What we have been trying to do is help our clients understand this is what they have to think about; what's regulatory and what's emotionally close to their hearts [when it comes to data sovereignty]," Lak said. "We are proving over time, now that we have an Australian presence in the cloud, we are trying as best as we can to make it a non-issue for customer so it becomes a pure business decision."

While risk may be a major barrier to broader cloud adoption, ultimately, organisations have to think about their bottom line — and cloud may provide too much of a financial incentive for companies to refuse it.

"Risk is a very organisational thing, and we try to quantify it," Bendigo and Adelaide Bank solution architect Devin Weerasooriya said. He was one of the executives who participated in the IBM study. "It's costs versus risk, and we have to weigh that up."

Hybrid cloud is the favoured model for Australian organisations, with 67 percent of respondents agreeing that it will dominate the IT agenda for the rest of this year. Just over a quarter of respondents were neutral on the topic.