Cloud Adoption Is Speeding Up

By Samuel Greengard


It’s easy to dismiss cloud computing as the trend du jour. However, a September study conducted by the Open Data Center Alliance (ODCA)—which includes heavyweights such as Lockheed Martin, BMW, Deutsche Bank, China Unicom and Terremark—offers a glimpse at how rapidly companies are adopting the cloud. The organization polled 63 member firms and found that organizations are embracing the cloud at a 15 percent faster rate than previously forecast.

In fact, over half of the survey respondents expect to operate 40 percent or more of their IT operations in private clouds by 2015, and a quarter report that they will run more than 40 percent of their operations in a public cloud. A mere 3 percent indicated that they are not implementing clouds in any way.

According to executive director Marvin Wheeler, organizations “continue to adopt clouds as part of their strategic plans,” and ODCA members are doing so at a “much more rapid rate than the general market.”

Several areas are garnering attention in the public cloud space. Enterprise resource planning, human resources, finance, and sales and marketing are among the areas driving the broadest cloud adoption. More than half of the respondents (53 percent) indicated an interest in public clouds for sales and marketing, while 47 percent view productivity as a leading opportunity for software as a service (SaaS) applications delivered through a public cloud.

Wheeler believes that the rapid adoption rate—particularly in marketing and sales—is at least partly due to a greater understanding of the technology and the strategic elements of using clouds. The organization’s efforts to educate members and provide best practices are also factors, he believes. However, “adoption is ultimately determined by the business value of moving to a public cloud model against the maturity and requirements of capabilities of public cloud offerings.”

The report provided other insights: Three-quarters of ODCA members are planning hybrid application deployments across public and private cloud environments, and about 84 percent of organizations plan to have up to 60 percent of their operations running on private clouds within the next year. By 2015, the figure is forecast to rise to above 95 percent.

The leading reasons for moving to the cloud include on-demand self service (65 percent); measured services (56 percent); resource pooling (47 percent); rapid elasticity (61 percent); and ubiquitous network access (26 percent).

“Each organization is going to have a different model depending on business and regulatory requirements,” Wheeler explains. “As organizations become more adept at adoption of cloud services, we expect each organization to outline a strategy on data management.”

Nevertheless, a number of barriers remain. An overwhelming 80 percent of respondents cited data security as a key concern for public clouds; 48 percent say that regulatory issues limit adoption; 44 percent have concerns about service reliability; and 39 percent have concerns about getting locked into a single vendor and the overall lack of open solutions.