Cloud Hype Peaks, But IT Concerns Increase

How big is the cloud marketing challenge? CIO.com's newest survey of IT professionals on cloud computing shows fears regarding security, data management, TCO, compliance and vendor lock-in have only spiked since one year ago.

Apparently the everpresent cloud computing marketing messages aren't working quite well enough: Tech buyers still have major concerns regarding cloud-based benefits and security issues, many of which have not eased during the past year.

That's according to a new CIO.com survey of 240 IT professionals involved in technology-purchasing decisions. The June 2009 survey, "CIO On-Demand Services Survey," reveals that cloud computing fears regarding security, data management, total cost of ownership, regulatory and compliance issues, and vendor lock-in have actually increased as compared with results from a similar survey in August 2008.

When it comes to cloud security concerns, for instance, 51 percent of respondents in the June 2009 survey reported having them, compared with 45 percent a year ago. Concern with "loss of control over data" jumped from 26 percent in 2008 to 37 percent in 2009. And the group of IT pros worrying about "TCO/Measuring ROI" rose from 11 percent to 17 percent. (To download full report, register here.)

Cloud computing, of course, has become like the hot, new restaurant where everyone wants to dine. Interest, in fact, has never been higher. According to the July 2009 "CIO Technology Priorities Survey," 60 percent of nearly 800 IT buyers and decision makers say that cloud-computing services are "On my radar" or "Actively researching." (To download that report, register here.)

But here's the disconnect: Just 8 percent said they were currently implementing cloud services, and 29 percent weren't interested at all, according to the survey results. Contrast that with unified communications, for instance, which has received far less hype and attention: 14 percent of IT pros say they're already implementing UC plans.

Perhaps all the hype surrounding products and services based in the cloud might be obscuring fact from fiction. Perhaps the disastrous economic environment and IT spending cutbacks have played a part. Perhaps all those concerns mentioned in the survey really are justified—much to the chagrin of cloud vendors everywhere.

Whatever the cause, now is the time for the marketing machines of cloud-based providers to refine their messaging and explain to IT leaders why cloud-based services will work in their enterprises. According to Gartner's 2009 Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, cloud computing is perched at the summit of the "Peak of Inflated Expectations."

Cloud service providers would do well to note what inevitably follows on Gartner's Hype Cycle: The "Trough of Disillusionment."

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