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Cloud divide: senior executives want cloud, security and IT managers are nervous

A new survey of 434 executives finds widespread adoption and interest in both public and private cloud computing. However, not everyone is comfortable with the cloud.

A new survey of 434 executives finds widespread adoption and interest in both public and private cloud computing. However, not everyone is comfortable with the cloud.

Security, job losses worry some.

The survey of North American and European companies sponsored by CA Technologies finds senior management (C-level and senior IT executives) are primary advocates for public clouds. IT managers, on the other hand, are the leading private cloud advocates (32 percent of directors of IT operations or senior data center management, 31 percent of virtualization team, 30 percent of server management team).

Cloud has opposition from several quarters as well. The survey finds members of security teams top the list as the primary opponents for both public and private clouds (44% and 27% respectively), with sizeable numbers of business unit leaders/managers also sharing that attitude (23% and 18% respectively).

Overall, 53% are uncomfortable with public clouds, and 31% are uncomfortable with private clouds. Security and control remain perceived barriers to the cloud. Executives are primarily concerned about security (68%) and poor service quality (40%), while roughly half of all respondents consider risk of job loss and loss of control as top deterrents.

In fact, 52% of IT managers say they fear job losses, making this the leading area of concern. While we all know corporations can be coldhearted in this regard, many IT managers will be protective of their colleagues (not to mention their own jobs, of course.)  CA, the vendor sponsor, had some soothing words in this regard -- as Adam Famularo, general manager for CA's Cloud Computing Business, put it: the survey validates that "IT executives are rapidly becoming orchestrators of an IT supply chain made up of internal and external services." While the threat of job loss is real, it does open up possibilities for new types of relationships between IT and the business, with IT taking on more of an advisory role, versus that of nuts-and-bolts implementer.

Nevertheless, the tide keeps rushing in -- cloud computing is becoming part of enterprise business technology in a big way. The CA survey finds cloud is now everywhere, in one form or another: more than 80 percent of enterprises and 92% of the largest enterprises have at least one cloud service; 53% of IT implementers indicate having more than six cloud services.

A segment of respondents indicate plans to continue to move mission-critical applications from non-virtualized infrastructure to virtual machines over the next couple of years.  Enterprises are running nearly half (47%) of these applications on non-virtualized infrastructure today, which will drop by 17% in the next two years.  Of that 17%, 10% will shift to public and private clouds.

The biggest and most mature adopters of private cloud (and perhaps public cloud to some degree) are those companies that already are well-versed in virtualization approaches, the CA survey finds. Virtualization-intensive organizations are four times more likely to "move as many services as possible" to both public and private clouds (17% versus four percent).

On average, roughly one-third of x86 servers are virtualized within respondents' enterprises. Nearly half (46%) indicate they are at a “managed” stage of virtualization, with the ability to move virtual machines and manage them for high availability.

The primary incentives for organizations exploring the cloud are to save money (44%) and gain greater cost control (35%). IT staff have their own reasons for working with cloud-based services: increasing efficiency (35%) and a desire to work with the latest technologies (34%).

The survey intermingled public and private cloud quite closely, though they often are two separate paradigms. And, interestingly, respondents had very similar attitudes toward both public and private clouds. They cite cost savings, resource efficiencies, flexibility and servicing global users as drivers for public clouds; similarly, cost, scalability, flexibility and manageability are drivers for private clouds. Security is noted as both a driver and deterrent for public and private clouds.

Collaboration tools lead cloud deployments at 75%, with hosted email, antivirus/spam filters and Web conferencing noted as the most common applications being deployed in the cloud by large enterprises.

Infrastructure and development platforms in the cloud (Infrastructure- and Platform-as-a-Service) appear to be poised for growth with 58% of large organizations already using these services, and 43% considering them.  Such use and consideration sets up infrastructure clouds as the next wave of cloud adoption.