Cloud computing has arrived in a big way. Public cloud storage and collaboration are the most popular services, but more organizations are implementing private cloud solutions and replacing legacy software with cloud applications.
According to the results of the PC Connection 2013 Outlook on Technology: Cloud Computing Survey, 19 percent of companies already have applications in the cloud, while 50 percent more are somewhere in the cloud migration process, from considering the options to actively moving applications.
Cloud has some key benefits, and many companies are well aware of them, but a good chunk of companies have reservations. Here's what companies love about the cloud - and what's holding some companies back.
What Companies Like
Cloud solutions can offer several IT advantages for businesses, from reduced costs to increased flexibility. Among the organizations surveyed by PC Connection, the top factors that are driving interest in the cloud include:
Improved Data Backup Services and Disaster Recovery
This is the biggest motivating factor for cloud interest, with 42 percent of businesses citing backup and recovery as the reason why they're attracted to this platform. Backing up to the cloud is cost-effective and convenient. The process is automated, and with data stored on a protected remote server, backups can be retrieved after physical or digital disasters.
Always-Available Access to Data and Applications
The ability to access applications and data anytime from any device is highly valued by 40 percent of businesses. With workplace boundaries shifting and more people working from mobile devices, this level of flexibility is a real benefit to cloud computing. (Learn more about the shift to mobile in BYOD: What It Means for IT.)
A lower price tag has been one of the most talked-about benefits of the cloud from the beginning, and 40 percent of organizations view cost savings as the best reason to switch. Cloud applications and infrastructures have the potential to save businesses thousands of dollars, or more.
Reduction of Necessary On-Site Infrastructure
A complex IT infrastructure takes time and money to maintain and gobbles up space. Reducing physical hardware needs is the top attractive cloud benefit for 38 percent of organizations.
Capacity Flexibility and Scalability
With cloud architecture, you pay only for the space and bandwidth you actually use. Cloud platforms are also highly scalable - if you need more space or speed, all you have to do is upgrade your plan, rather than invest in new hardware and servers, and spend weeks or months rolling it out. In the PC Connection survey, 35 percent of businesses place a high value on this feature.
The report from PC Connection also noted that while improved data backup and recovery was the top factor driving cloud interest, cost savings was the top influencer for organizations already using cloud-based services or planning to implement them, at 51 percent. (Learn about more cloud computing benefits in The 5 Ways Cloud Computing Could Change the IT Landscape.)
Other factors that influenced interest in the cloud included:
- Increased storage capacity
- Improved workforce mobility
- Reduced workload for IT departments
- Cloud as a long-term IT strategy
- Increased productivity
- Shifting capital expenses to operating expenses
Why Companies Still Aren't Diving In
Every system has its advantages and disadvantages, and despite all the press cloud computing gets, not all companies are convinced. While 50 percent of companies are in the process of moving at least some applications to the cloud, 31 percent said they had no plans to make the switch. That's because when it comes to cloud platforms, businesses still have some big concerns.
It comes as no surprise that security is the biggest roadblock to the cloud, with 65 percent of organizations citing security concerns as the main factor keeping them from implementing cloud infrastructures. (Read more about the security risks that come with the cloud in The Dark Side of the Cloud.)
Integration with Current Systems
Technology can be fickle, and 34 percent of the surveyed organizations worry that cloud platforms won’t integrate well with their existing networks, applications and systems.
System Performance and Availability
When a cloud service provider has technical issues, its customers may not have access to the applications and data they need to perform. This is a primary concern for 33 percent of businesses.
Legal and Regulatory Compliance
Organizations that deal with sensitive data must follow certain rules and protocols with regards to handling, storing and transmitting data. As a result, 32 percent of businesses hesitate to implement cloud solutions due to compliance issues.
Lack of Standards
Like most newer technologies, cloud vendors have yet to implement consistent standards, and the industry is largely unregulated. The possibility of problems arising from this concerns 28 percent of organizations.
Small Hurdles, Big Changes
Many of the reservations companies still have about cloud computing are just small hurdles that cloud computing vendors are likely to overcome as they improve their technology and services. As cloud technology evolves, many of these issues will be resolved, which means that more businesses will be able to comfortably enjoy the benefits of a cloud environment. Clearly, not all businesses are convinced about the benefits of cloud computing. And maybe as a technology it still has some growing up to do. What is clear, however, is that the hurdles it has to overcome are much smaller than its potential.