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Cloud computing hasn't gone Fortune 500 yet, but it's coming

Large corporations haven't joined the ranks of startups flocking to cloud computing services like Amazon Web Services, but they are ignoring it at their own peril.That's the key takeaway from a research report by Forrester analyst James Staten.
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Written by Larry Dignan, Contributing Editor on

Large corporations haven't joined the ranks of startups flocking to cloud computing services like Amazon Web Services, but they are ignoring it at their own peril.

That's the key takeaway from a research report by Forrester analyst James Staten. The report, based on interviews with more than 30 companies, concludes that cloud computing has been "wildly popular" with small businesses but large companies have been skeptical. Ignoring cloud computing, however, would "be a mistake as cloud computing is looking like a classic disruptive technology," writes Staten in his report.

Staten, who also blogged about his report, outlines numerous benefits for large companies to use cloud computing services--even if it's just an experiment. Among the notable benefits:

  • Deployment speed. One big hang-up for enterprises is figuring out how to procure and provision infrastructure to support a new application. In other words, you can develop an application in two weeks, but wait six weeks to procure and then install the servers that support it. Toss in capacity planning and the time to market expands more.
  • Costs. To acquire those additional servers to support a new app requires budget. Staten notes you can't just run out and buy a server anymore.
  • Businesses want fast prototypes. Corporations can deliver faster prototypes by using cloud computing services. Simply put, it makes sense to use cloud computing as a testbed for projects that don't have a fully-baked business case. For instance, research and development projects, low priority business applications and collaboration services are all good candidates for the cloud.

That latter point is critical for large businesses pondering cloud computing. Experiment with these Web services via prototypes given that it's unlikely companies will blindly make a leap to a provider. Meanwhile, cloud computing providers aren't ready for enterprise-class delivery. Stability, big-name providers, reference accounts, security guarantees and iron-clad services level agreements aren't in place yet.

Staten writes:

Forrester feels that for a service to be ready for enterprise to consume, it must pass from the early adopter phase (few enterprises using it with most deployments being experimentation and nonbusiness critical projects) to early majority. Evidence of being at this stage comes from a sufficient volume of direct enterprise customer references using the service for business-critical purposes to indicate that the service has matured to the point of consideration for IT approval. We were not able to verify enough customer references (even off the record) to conclude that cloud computing has crossed over from early adopter to early majority. However, the platforms are maturing and will start to better meet enterprise needs during the next two to three years.

In the meantime, start studying your clouds. And if these aforementioned providers don't interest you ponder building your own cloud.

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