Cloud to come of age by 2015

Security, availability and data sovereignty key hurdles to be mitigated over next four years to bring cloud computing to same level as mainstream IT, predicts market analyst.
Written by Kevin Kwang, Contributor

SINGAPORE--Cloud computing will reach mainstream adoption in the enterprise market by 2015 when key issues such as security, service availability and data sovereignty are expected to be ironed out.

According to Simon Piff, associate vice president for enterprise infrastructure research at IDC Asia-Pacific, businesses today are still hesitant in utilizing cloud computing for much of their IT needs due to concerns over security, service reliability, data location and sovereignty, as well as vendor support.

This reluctance was reflected in a recent IDC survey on companies in Asia-Pacific, excluding Japan, which were quizzed on their cloud plans, Piff said during his presentation at IDC Asia-Pacific's Cloud Conference 2011 held here Wednesday. The survey findings revealed that companies in developed markets such as Singapore and Hong Kong showed more reticence in using cloud services, compared with their counterparts in developing markets such as Indonesia and Thailand, the analyst noted.

However, the concerns enterprises have are currently being addressed, he said. In the case of service reliability and uptime, for instance, public cloud users are increasingly more aware of the implications associated with these services, he added.

Piff pointed to the service outages Amazon Web Services (AWS) suffered in April as an example. He noted that, in this case, while the cloud service provider had a responsibility in maintaining uptime, customers also recognized they would have to design and deploy their own failover system as recommended by AWS in its service level agreement. The analyst added that public cloud was "inherently insecure" so users should have contingency plans anyway.

He further cited a poll conducted at an IDC cloud forum held in May, which revealed that 49.7 percent of respondents agreed that, by 2015, major public cloud providers would have addressed uptime concerns so effectively that reliability would be a non-issue in moving to the cloud.

As for the issue of data sovereignty, Piff said cloud service providers recognize that enterprises in certain industry verticals such as financial will always need to house their data locally. To address this, he said "massive investments" are being poured into building new data centers across the Asia-Pacific region, to the tune of US$3.7 billion as of Jun. 30 this year.

Google, for instance, announced in September that it was setting up a data center in Singapore while Softlayer Technologies, a cloud computing and managed hosting service provider, also launched its data center here that same month.

With these factors in mind, Piff expects cloud computing to achieve mainstream status by 2015.

"Cloud users [will have] made significant progress in the [next] four years and integrated cloud systems well with the rest of the class. Cloud can then be considered a full-fledged member of the IT class."

Ditch enterprise mindset
For cloud computing adoption to take off, though, companies will need to accept that "cloud is not enterprise", said Doug Gourlay, vice president of Arista Networks, who was also a speaker at the forum.

He noted that enterprises typically have the mindset of building once and "praying" that the system will not fail thereafter. This, however, runs counter with how cloud projects should be approached.

Gourlay said: "For cloud to succeed, IT needs to build it, deploy, fail quickly, then learn from the mistakes and deploy again. There needs to be constant innovation in this space."

He also called on companies to move away from traditional IT vendors such as Cisco Systems, IBM and Oracle because their vision of cloud is not cost-efficient and scalable.

Instead, he suggested businesses model after Web companies such as Facebook, Amazon and Google when it comes to rethinking their IT infrastructure and provisioning technology for business users.

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