Sometimes it's hard to distinguish between when somebody really doesn't understand something and when they just don't want to understand something.
Such is the case with cloud computing, which from the perspective of the internal IT staff all too often threatens their status quo in terms of employment.
For example, Proofpoint, a provider of e-mail security products that can be deployed on premise or using a software-as-a-service model, recently asked Osterman Research to conduct a survey of over 200 IT professionals. Not all that surprisingly, 40 percent of the IT professionals surveyed said they were still confused by the term, compared to 52 percent that said they were not.
Interestingly enough, 33 percent said cloud computing was more hype than substance, while 24 percent said they were not sure. That would imply that the other 43 percent think the opposite to one degree or another.
When asked if they thought cloud computing was less secure than on-premise approaches, 43 percent said yes, 31 percent said not sure and 26 percent said no. And only 37 percent said their organizations would experience cost savings in the first year of a cloud-based security solution.
The survey doesn't detail what those savings are defined as, but when you add up all the cost of the infrastructure and expensive security professionals required to run e-mail security on premise, it's pretty hard not to come up with savings in the first year. In fact, what these survey numbers tend to show as a whole is that a lot of IT people are still in various stages of denial about cloud computing.
The good news is that the Society of Information Management (SIM) has an Advanced Practices Council that has commissioned a few professors from Babson, Boston University and Arizona State to get to the bottom of this cloud computing confusion. The APC is funding two separate studies: one to determine how cloud computing is actually being used, and a second study on how software-as-a-service is being integrated with existing enterprise systems.
Taken together, the two studies will probably confirm the existence of a blended computing model where various IT services are delivered via the cloud, while others remain on premise. For example, utilitarian services such as backup and recovery and, yes, security, are ideal for the cloud. Mission-critical applications, on the other hand, are better suited to be close to the location of the actual business process. And supporting applications, such as CRM, can be deployed in either model depending on how critical they are to the business.
All of this means that fundamental change via cloud computing is most definitely coming to the IT organization. IT professionals can attempt to put that change off as long as possible, or they can choose to embrace a blended approach that integrates cloud computing with existing on premise resources. Of course, the IT professionals that choose the former approach probably won't be around this time next year to participate in any surveys.