Clouds Take Shape
By Samuel Greengard
Despite all the hype and hyperbole, it's clear that cloud computing is here to stay. A recent Tata Consultancy Services study of more than 600 firms worldwide found that U.S. organizations now have 19 percent of their applications in the cloud, and that number is expected to swell to 34 percent by 2014.
Yet, as remarkable as this might sound, the United States actually trails much of the world in cloud adoption. Tata found that cloud apps are likely to make up 54 percent of the total in Latin America and 52 percent in Asia-Pacific by 2014. Europe trailed far behind at 12 percent.
"We have reached the inflection point in cloud computing, and there is no turning back,” notes Natarajan Chandrasekaran, CEO and managing director of Tata Consultancy Services. “Cloud-based applications are already a substantial piece of large corporate IT infrastructure, and the early benefits achieved are too substantial to ignore.”
One of the biggest roadblocks to adoption, Tata found, is fear over security risks. Only 20 percent of U.S. and European companies would consider putting their most critical applications in the cloud. Private clouds, on the other hand, appeal to 66 percent of U.S. companies and 48 percent of European firms.
At present, customer-facing applications and business processes are the major drivers for cloud adoption. The study reveals that marketing, sales and services capture at least two-fifths of corporate IT cloud budgets across the four regions.
Cost cutting was not cited as the primary reason for adopting clouds. While saving money is important, respondents indicated that the need to streamline and speed up business processes was the main driver.
Standardization also ranked high on the list of reasons to use the cloud. Finally, organizations in Europe and Latin America cited agility and flexibility as important factors. The ability to provision and de-provision services quickly was attractive.
Says Chandrasekaran: "Most companies have remained somewhat conservative about what systems and data they put in public clouds. The next few years will be ones in which market leaders quickly capitalize on the cloud."