Cloud Computing Survey: IT Leaders See Big Promise, Have Big Security Questions

Cloud computing has become the most over-hyped tech buzzword this year, but CIO's new survey of IT leaders shows that despite security concerns, enterprises see real promise for flexibility and savings from the cloud.

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What You Hope to Gain From the Cloud

What's even more precious to IT than cost savings? Agility. The big win with virtualization, to date, has been the ability to deliver to the business on IT requests in a lightning fast way, as compared to the old one-app-one-server days. Virtualization has helped many IT departments change from "no" people to "yes" people.

Primary Reasons You're Using or Plan to Use Cloud

Scalability on demand/flexibility to the business 50%
Reduced hardware infrastructure costs 38%
Reduced IT staffing/administration costs 35%
Access to skills/capabilities we have no interest in developing in-house 28%
Not using or planning to use cloud computing offerings 19%
Capacity - data center 16%
Capacity - storage 11%
Frequent software updates 10%
Other 5%
*Respondents selected up to three criteria

SOURCE: CIO Research

Similarly, you already see the ability to deliver more flexibility to the business via cloud offerings: In fact, you named this as your top desire from cloud computing, followed by reduced hardware and staffing costs.

Cloud computing "allows the IT organization to focus on differentiating IT capabilities and not on infrastructure," one respondent to our survey wrote, explaining why he thinks the cloud will change his IT department—and his company. "It also allows the business to pursue an opportunity that has unclear ROI without significant capital expenditures on infrastructure."

What You're Already Doing in the Cloud

Cloud computing offerings that fall under what most people think of as software on demand or SaaS, in the style of Salesforce.com, have been around for years now.

How Is Your Organization Currently Using Cloud Offerings

Running applications using a software as a service (SaaS) model 51%
Do not currently use any cloud computing offerings 37%
Storage 24%
Access to extra computing power on demand 19%
Other 8%

SOURCE: CIO Research

Thus some IT departments are not only comfortable with the cloud but also banking on it for operational savings and flexibility. Not surprisingly, SaaS offerings are the top way you're already using the cloud, followed by storage on demand. Only 19 percent of respondents say they're tapping into extra computing power on demand right now, though that's perhaps the most exciting flavor of cloud computing for the future.

Clearly, the size of your enterprise is a factor with regards to your comfort with cloud offerings. As Forrester Research analyst James Staten notes, for example, it's simpler today for startups or smaller companies to use Amazon's EC2 and S3 cloud services, as opposed to large enterprises. Staten believes large enterprises may inch their way into the cloud for the ability to do quick and cheap experimentation. Also, end users could use cloud services to bypass IT for some needs or projects, Staten predicts.

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