Which survey about cloud computing are you going to believe? It's a nascent technology, no one seems exactly sure how to define it and, as always with surveys, some of those that administer them have vested interests. But even taking all those things into account, results of recent surveys are notably all over the board.
IT Business Edge blogger Ralph DeFrangesco cited a survey by consulting company IInformation Technology Intelligence Corp. in which 38 percent of respondents said they were unsure about adopting cloud services and another 47 percent said they won't consider the cloud in the next 12 months. Compare that to a Forrester Research survey mentioned by ITBE blogger Art Cole in a recent post, which found that a quarter of big companies already use third-party cloud services or plan to do so in the near future.
Then there's the study commissioned by vendor F5 Networks, in which a whopping 82 percent of respondents said they are in some stage of trial, implementation or use of public clouds, and a like number said the same about private clouds.
Granted, I haven't drilled down into the methodologies of these surveys, but these seem like some pretty large discrepancies to me. Based on folks I've talked to, I think the F5 numbers seem awfully high. The other numbers seem more realistic. And yes, I realize "testing" a technology doesn't necessarily mean a company will end up adopting it.
Yesterday I saw an Intelligent Enterprise blog post by David Linthicum relating the results of a CIO.com survey that appear to show skepticism about the cloud is growing along with awareness and interest. Only 8 percent of respondents said they were implementing cloud services, though 60 percent said they were "actively researching" or at least had the cloud on their radar. Twenty-nine percent had no interest in the cloud.
Perhaps even more interesting, over the past year concerns have grown over security, data management, total cost of ownership, regulatory and compliance issues, and vendor lock-in. I don't think this is that surprising. Such issues obviously become more top of mind as folks at least consider evaluating a technology.
Unfortunately, says Linthicum, "there are really no easy ways around these issues." In his mind, interoperability (and related vendor lock-in) is the biggest problem because of the lack of cloud computing standards. He writes:
If you're thinking about creating code and data that can move from provider to provider while still leveraging native features to make the systems more valuable, dream on. There are no good options here. Either you use a least-common-denominator approach -- where the applications are less valuable to the end user but run everywhere -- or you create deep hooks into a particular provider to make the systems more feature-rich. But the latter also means you have a fat chance of moving the application from one provider to another without spending a lot of money and time.
Forrester Research analyst James Staten made a similar point about the lack of cloud interoperability when I interviewed him in April for a story on cloud computing. He said:
Right now, if you design applications on a certain cloud platform, it's the only place they'll run. You'll have to change the code to port it over to another PaaS (platform-as-a-service).
Regarding data control, Linthicum says internal practices are likely at least as scary, if not more so, than placing data with an outside provider. (Thumb drives, anyone?) As for security, data in the cloud is secure but will never be as locked-down as it would in your own data center. Compliance concerns are overblown, says Linthicum.
Jonathan Bryce, co-founder of Mosso, the cloud computing division of Rackspace, and another source for my cloud computing story, agreed with Linthicum on the privacy and control questions. He said:
The differences between running a dedicated server at a traditional managed hosting facility and a cloud server are not that big. The only true difference is a virtual server has a hypervisor. As long as you use a solid hypervisor like VMware or Xeon, you are fine.