Industry faces perception gap with data center, cloud

Service providers market key benefits of cloud and data centers such as agility but companies are still focused on basics such as performance and availability, leading to a "disconnect" between both groups.


Organizations and service providers have different perspectives when it comes to what each group considers important in datacenter investment, leading to a "disconnect". 

A research conducted by Forrester and Equinix in March revealed that highly touted cloud benefits such as shifting from a capital expenditure (Capex) to an operational expenditure (Opex) model were not affecting data center investment decisions.

According to the report, both capex and opex were rated low by businesses in the four markets surveyed--Australia, China, Hong Kong and Singapore--at 22 percent and 32 percent, respectively. Yet, this was an important consideration for service providers, at 48 percent, which were overestimating the perceived value these organizations placed on the shift from the capex to opex.

Business perception more conservative than service providers

This "disconnect" exists because when it comes to applications, benefits from software-as-a-service are more obvious and immediate to service providers, noted Michael Barnes, Forrester's vice president of research director of applications, development and delivery professionals.

On the other hand, with datacenter investments, business decision makers tend to be more conservative and will think about the overall quality of information, Barnes said, speaking to ZDNet Asia in a phone interview Friday. When it comes to applications, though, there is less of a perception gap as this segment is more mature and better understood among buyers, he said.

The perception gap is due to service providers, especially those offering cloud-based services, that are still caught up with the process of marketing key benefits of cloud and data centers such as agility, responsiveness, and flexibility, he pointed out. However, the starting point of cloud services encompassing availability, performance, and offering business resiliency is equally important to enterprises, Barnes noted.

This means service providers are overestimating the level of understanding among IT decision makers regarding the support and features of cloud, and may be underselling the core capability of cloud, he said.

Moving forward, these market players should put more focus on ensuring the basic availability and performance are well understood before focusing on key differentiators or benefits, he said. "Gaining the trust of IT decision makers that the solution is available ensures business continuity such as agility," he added.

APAC firms prioritize cloud, datacenter spend

According to the Forrester-Equinix report, more than half of organizations in Asia-Pacific, at 57 percent, were currently planning to increase spending in data center and cloud services. 

Barnes said this was top on the mind of enterprises in this region due to the propensity and high profile nature of natural disasters , leading to greater emphasis on business continuity and data recovery.

Eric Hui, Equinix's Asia-Pacific director of cloud, IT and enterprise, pointed to the Japan earthquake and tsunami in 2011 , for example, which drove organizations in the country to think more intensively about disaster recovery, prompting service providers to locate themselves nearer to their customers.

Enterprises also are looking to the cloud as a new way of service transformation, even though it does not have immediate impact, Hui noted.

That said, Barnes said service providers have strong opportunities in Asia-Pacific since organizations already have a relationship with them through existing cloud services.