Is 2014 the Year Cloud Computing Goes Mainstream?

A new study from Microsoft and 451 Research finds that nearly half of all organizations in its report have a cloud computing plan moving beyond the pilot phase and that most will opt for a "hybrid" solution rather than choose one cloud approach over another.

The stars appear to be aligning for cloud computing. The price wars are starting to heat up, and the potential savings for businesses could be significant.

According to a new 451 Research study sponsored by Microsoft, cloud service is becoming the norm in the business world—though that doesn’t mean businesses are likely to put all of their data in one basket.

The study surveyed more than 2,000 information technology professionals from 11 countries on six continents, though it’s heavily weighted toward the United States, which represents 35 percent of the respondents involved. The study focuses on the concerns and thought processes for IT staffs regarding their cloud computing needs. Some highlights from the study:

Growing fast: As noted in a press release, many companies are pushing forward with their cloud plans this year, with 45 percent of organizations being beyond a pilot stage and 32 percent having a formal cloud computing plan. Microsoft—which offers the Azure platform for enterprise consumers—is seeing robust growth, too. “Hosted private cloud is a gateway to hybrid cloud environments for many customers,” Marco Limena, the company’s vice president of hosting service providers, said in the press release. “We’ve seen significant traction for these environments as our hosting business continues growing at a high rate year-over-year. With this momentum continuing to build, it’s clear that we’ve reached a tipping point where most companies have moved beyond the discovery phase and are now moving forward with cloud deployments to deliver improved business results and capabilities.”

Where the cloud sits: While hosted third-party clouds (especially public ones, like Dropbox) get much of the attention, much of the spending on cloud products remains on premises. The study found adoption of internal private clouds accounted for 26 percent of on-premises infrastructure spending in 2013. This trend is likely to change, however, as hosted private cloud platforms become more prevalent over the next two years. “There is certainly a ton of growth in public clouds, and a good portion of IT resources living in public environments,” 451 Research’s Michelle Bailey told Information Week. “But the mass will gravitate to private clouds, which are seen as more secure and business-ready.” Bailey suggested that many businesses will combine private clouds hosted by a third-party with an on-premises private cloud—something that 60.8 percent of hybrid cloud users in the study reported to have.

Security a major concern: In a breakdown of cloud computing best practices ranked by importance on a 1-to-10 scale, respondents ranked “have a well-defined architecture for security” as their leading concern, with a related concern, “train users to be cautious with access and security” not too far behind. Others that ranked high include having an understanding of user needs and a well-defined performance architecture, while concerns involving licensing, corporate partners, and simply using new tools were far lower on the list. In a press release, Bailey says that the security factor is a major one for many companies that choose hosted cloud presences, noting that “customers are willing to pay a premium for assurances.”

The full study is available on the Microsoft website [PDF].


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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