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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Applications That Call Out for Cloud Options

What specific applications are leading you to use or actively research cloud offerings? Collaboration apps rank as early winners, according to our survey results. A significant portion of you are also trying to figure out the server and storage on demand equations now. And a surprising 54 percent of respondents mentioned ERP as on the radar or in use—notable since ERP apps often represent the most mission-critical and expensive applications to the business.

"Like every other technology, it (cloud computing) has its place," wrote one respondent to our survey. "Mobile access, non-mission-critical capabilities, and general support functions (provisioning, e-mail, etc.) are easy targets."

Describe Your Plans/Usage of the Following Cloud Offerings

On the radar/actively researching Currently using or implementing Planning to use next year Planning to use one to three years Planning to use three to five years No plans to use
Application platforms & development software (web servers, design tools) 27% 34% 4% 3% 2% 30%
Collaboration tools (wikis, web conferencing) 17% 50% 8% 4% 4% 17%
Enterprise application software (CRM, ERP, Supply Chain, BI) 19% 35% 4% 5% 3% 34%
Personal productivity software (word processing, e-mail, spreadsheet) 22% 23% 4% 4% 4% 43%
Utilities/management software (anti-virus, spam filters, desktop management) 21% 33% 5% 7% 2% 32%
Networks 16% 27% 4% 5% 2% 45%
Servers 18% 32% 4% 5% 2% 39%
Storage 22% 31% 6% 4% 7% 30%

SOURCE: CIO Research

What's Stopping You: Security and Control Concerns

A whopping 45 percent of you cite security as the top concern surrounding cloud computing at your enterprise. And you've been through blockbuster tech waves like the ERP revolution, so it's not surprising that you're already worrying about integration issues with existing systems and cloud computing.

Greatest Concerns Surrounding Cloud Adoption at Your Company

Security 45%
Integration with existing systems 26%
Loss of control over data 26%
Availability concerns 25%
Performance issues 24%
IT governance issues 19%
Regulatory/compliance concerns 19%
Dissatisfaction with vendor offerings/pricing 12%
Ability to bring systems back in-house 11%
Lack of customization opportunities 11%
Measuring ROI 11%
Not sure 7%
Other 6%
*Respondents selected up to three criteria.

SOURCE: CIO Research

As we've recently reported, cloud computing will rely on virtualization to quite an extent. The economics demand it for cloud vendors to succeed. Yet such basic issues as moving virtual machines between physical servers with processors from differing vendors (AMD and Intel) have yet to be resolved by the industry. And when you start talking about making customer data easily portable between different cloud service providers, even industry vets give wishy-washy answers right now. Microsoft has its own vision for solving the problem, a vision heavily dependent on client OS power. VMware has another vision. Bottom line: It's early and the integration questions are real.

As has been the case with SaaS offerings from the start, availability and performance worries still register, with almost a quarter of you citing them in our survey.

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