RESEARCH@DBTA: Who's Going to Run These Clouds?

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Unisphere-IOUG Survey Explores Public and Private Cloud Management Issues

There's no question that cloud computing is a hot commodity these days. Companies of all types and sizes are embracing cloud computing-both internally and from external service providers - as a way to cost-effectively build new capabilities. With the rapid growth of cloud comes new questions about  responsibility within organizations, in terms of how services will be paid for, who has ultimate say over cloud decisions, and how cloud fits into the overall strategic direction of the business.

While information technology departments tend to be the "go-to" people in deciding on cloud solutions, governance and funding sources are still in a state of flux for this relatively immature technology paradigm. These are some of the conclusions from a recent survey of 257 information technology and data managers and professionals, conducted by Unisphere Research, a division of Information Today, Inc., among members of the Independent Oracle Users Group (IOUG). The survey was underwritten by Oracle and the findings are presented in a report titled, "Enterprises Advance into the Cloud: 2011 IOUG Cloud Computing Survey." 

This is the second year the IOUG cloud survey has been conducted. The survey finds the role of IT departments and management committees in managing private and public cloud efforts increased over the past year, signaling an increasing centralization of cloud efforts within enterprises. IT executives, in particular, are increasingly taking on a leadership role in identifying and managing both internal and external cloud resources for their enterprises.

IT departments have leadership roles not only in managing and rolling out cloud services, but also in the governance process that dictates the value of these services to their businesses. Most respondents expect to achieve cost savings through cloud initiatives, along with greater availability and system response times. However, organizational - not technical - challenges are making it difficult to achieve these goals.

The leading challenge in private cloud adoption, for example is gaining cross-organization support or participation, cited by 43% of respondents. Another 38% cite difficulties in creating a business case and funding model for their internal clouds. More than one-third cite issues with implementing process, policy, and role changes, which lead to business transformation. (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1:  Private Cloud Challenges

Gaining cross-organization support or participation: 43%

Creating the business case and funding model: 38%

Implementing process, policy and role changes (transformation): 34%

Software licensing issues: 31%

Building awareness of available services: 30%

Adequately provisioning server and storage capacity: 25%

Loss of visibility/control of apps, databases, storage, or systems: 23%

Available cloud services do not fit existing functions/processes: 20%

Integration of private cloud to public cloud or other in-house solutions: 16%

Inability to ensure service levels for applications, databases, storage, systems: 19%

Don't know/unsure: 19%

Other: 5%

Companies adopting services from public cloud providers tend not to face management challenges and are more focused on the relationship with the vendor. Not surprisingly, a vast majority, 77%, cite security cloud issues. In addition, a majority (56%) say they are concerned about the quality of service-including availability and performance-that the cloud vendor is capable of delivering. A sizable segment, 42% of respondents, does not want to get locked into a relationship with a cloud vendor which makes it too painful to migrate. Similarly, 42% worry about the long-term viability and stability of their cloud vendor. If a cloud provider were to suddenly go out of business, business customers could be left high and dry. (See Figure 2.)

Figure 2:  Public Cloud Challenges

Security and privacy issues: 77%

Quality of service (availability, performance): 56%

Vendor lock-in: 42%

Long-term vendor viability/stability: 42%

Long-term costs: 36%

Ability to modify the applications: 36%

Integration: 33%

Lack of business intelligence/reporting: 14%

Other: 2%

(Multiple responses permitted)

 A decision that needs to be made early on in the process is whether to build out a private cloud infrastructure using on-site IT resources, or to subscribe to outside cloud offerings from third parties. The IOUG survey also finds more organizations are replacing their existing systems with outside cloud services, and using outside cloud services for new applications.

Related to management challenges are funding challenges. For example, where does the money to fund private cloud services come from? Someone in the organization has to pay for building, launching, and maintaining a cloud service. Is it going to come out of one department's budget, with other departments essentially tapping into it, and using server cycle time, at no cost to them? The survey finds there really is no clear leading methodology in the way organizations pay for their cloud services. Half of the respondents report that money for centralized services comes from a central fund-either corporate or central IT. Another 14% report that funding comes out of the budgets of individual user departments. Another 44% say there either is no funding, or they are not aware if there is.

Overall, however, budgets for cloud initiatives are on the rise-with more than one-third seeing increased funding for private cloud initiatives over the past year, versus only 2% reporting cutbacks.

The survey also finds that large segments of organizations are embracing both private and public cloud computing for enterprise computing needs. The survey finds 37% of respondents now have private cloud computing efforts underway within their enterprises, up from 29% in a similar survey conducted in August 2010. (See Figure 3.)

Figure 3:  Companies With Active Private Clouds

2010: 29%

2011: 37%

 This is the case with public cloud deployments, as well. Twenty-one percent of respondents now use public cloud services in a meaningful way, up from 14% in the previous year. The survey also finds more organizations are replacing their existing systems with outside cloud services, and using outside cloud services for new applications. (See Figure 4.)

Cloud services are carrying larger workloads within organizations. More than one-third of respondents (37%) report that they now use or offer between one and 10 services through a private cloud.  In addition, a large segment of organizations adopting public cloud services have already replaced applications offered by their own IT departments.

Figure 4:  Companies Using Public Clouds

2010: 14%

2011: 21%