Cloud computing, while the mot du jour, still has a long way to go, according to a recent survey published by cloud provider Savvis.
It surveyed 172 CIOs in LinkedIn's CIO group and found that security is a critical factor in the decision on whether or not to go to the cloud. At the same time, most of the respondents saw their objectives over the next year as increasing business flexibility, enabling innovation and increasing competitive advantage.
The survey found that the big pluses for cloud are continuous support and security, and that most (64 percent) do plan to increase their use of cloud services -- although a significant minority (25 percent) do not. It's clear however there's a great deal of ambivalence about whether cloud market is mature enough to support the needs of large enterprises.
When it comes to security, respondents were hugely concerned about the potential for data loss, security audits and controlling access to information; this list mirrors what countless similar surveys have found since -- well -- since cloud hit radar. Respondents to Savvis' survey said that few (21 percent) believe that the cloud providers offer what they need in this regard, and only slightly more (28 percent) believe that cloud security service go beyond the basics.
This is faintly depressing news if you're an advocate of cloud services, as it suggests that many of the issues identified by Yankee Group analyst Camille Mendler, who pointed out at a recent NetEvents conference that there are many moving parts to a cloud service, and that very few providers have managed to deliver all or even most of them in a secure and reliable fashion, have yet to be fully addressed. "I don't think there's many people out there that really are investing in testing this environment and really making it mission-critical," she said.
Mendler has analysed a number of service provider contracts, as I reported in a previous blog entry, and found that most contracts include clauses that limit the vendor's liability to a far greater extent than their headline marketing would suggest. Given that by far and away the biggest concern about cloud is the potential for data loss, it suggests that cloud providers in general are not overwhelmingly confident in the robustness of their infrastructure and processes.
While most expect to spend more on application provision in the cloud over the next 12 months, it's hard to avoid the conclusion that the deployments are more likely to be small, pilot affairs rather than full-blown migration of critical services over to a third party's infrastructure.
This is borne out by the answers to a survey question about perceived cloud benefits, the longest bars being the provision of business continuity and improved data access, with lower capex and improved flexibility trailing in third and fourth places.
So is cloud going to be the way forward for most companies -- or is there a fundamental barrier of trust? Answers on a postcard....