Top cloud candidates? Startups and non-critical apps

The 2011 Future of Cloud Computing Survey was the headliner of the Structure Conference. See the most interesting slides and cloud leaders' comments on the survey.
Written by Jason Hiner, Editor in Chief

It won't surprise anyone to hear that established companies aren't moving their most important apps and data to the cloud -- at least not yet -- but, we got confirmation on that from some of the leading cloud vendors and some of the most progressive cloud adopters, who all gathered this week at the Structure Conference in San Francisco to talk about the state of the cloud.

On Wednesday, at a panel called The Future of Cloud Computing, a group of these cloud leaders were put on the spot to provide commentary on the unveiling of the 2011 Future of Cloud Computing Survey, a joint effort between North Bridge, GigaOM Pro, and 451 Group.

The top three points I came away with from the survey and the panelists were:

  1. Cloud computing is still in the first inning
  2. Most companies aren't moving their mission critical systems to the cloud
  3. The most enthusiastic cloud adopters are small businesses and startups

From left to right: Michael Skok, General Partner North Bridge Venture Partners, Lew Moorman, President, Rackspace Cloud, Dries Buytaert, CTO & Founder, Acquia (and head of Drupal), John Dillon, CEO, Engine Yard, Marten Mickos, CEO, Eucalyptus. Photo credit: Jason Hiner

The survey itself had over 400 respondents, mostly CEOs, C-level executives, and directors. Of the respondents, 32% were in large or medium companies and 68% were in small businesses (less than 100 employees).

Here are what I considered the five most interesting slides and data points:

1. Agility, scalability, and cost are top drivers

2. Security, compliance, lock-in are inhibitors

3. Cloud TCO is strong

4. Percentage of computing in the cloud

5. Impact of cloud on hiring


Here are some of the top quotes from the panelists:

  • Lew Moorman, President of Rackspace Cloud, said he's seeing a lot of startups and "new wave companies" building their whole business on the cloud
  • John Dillon, CEO of Engine Yard, said enterprises are highly interested in the cloud but still experimenting with secondary apps. "They're not ripping out SAP or Oracle and putting it in the cloud," he said.
  • Dries Buytaert, CTO of Acquia (and head of Drupal), said he has large enterprises and governments as cloud customers but added, "It's not their big backend systems."
  • Marten Mickos, CEO of Eucalyptus, gave an example of the speed and agility of the cloud. He reported a telecom that deployed the infrastructure needed for an SMS service in a matter of minutes using a Web-based portal. The process used to take weeks and a lot of coordination.
  • All of the panelists addressed the customer fear of vendor lock-in and the desire for a cloud standard -- OpenStack, Red Hat, and VMware are all pushing their platform as the standard -- but the panelists weren't optimistic that a common platform will emerge any time soon. Michael Skok, General Partner of North Bridge Venture Partners, added, "Open source and APIs does not mean standards."
  • The panel also addressed the fact that a lot of the cloud is being handled by business unit heads without the participation of IT. Dillion said, "Most [of them] hate the IT department because they can't get anything done." Skok added that the attitude he sees a lot is "The IT department can't do it, so we'll do an end-around."

This article was originally published on TechRepublic.

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