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Why Visions of the Enterprise Cloud are…Cloudy

by Andrew Brown | 2月 09, 2010

Recently a number of statistics have been thrown into the enterprise cloud computing debate. Some suggest that 20% of companies will forsake all IT assets and utilise cloud services only. This is a very bold prediction to put it mildly. It is true that over 95% of companies globally are SMEs (over 99% in the EU27) and that cloud computing meets many of their needs at face value, but digging deeper the future of cloud computing in business is infinitely more complex…., and frankly, well, cloudy.

If enterprises do adopt cloud computing, it will likely take the form of private or hybrid clouds.

Despite many companies relaxing their demands of just over 5 minutes of unscheduled downtime per YEAR, it is clear that there is a demand for SLAs by companies for cloud providers, and positioning public cloud services for true enterprise ready adoption is not really feasible. Google’s association with public cloud services, for example, may well limit its attempt to penetrate vertical markets like government (Is Android Well Placed for Google's Enterprise Ambitions?), despite limited success to date with Google Apps.

Alliances are already forming to offer private or hybrid services that match the same level of service as in-house IT. For example, the Microsoft-HP alliance is a great example that presents mutually beneficial offerings to both vendors (HP sells Microsoft optimized servers for SQL Server etc and gets its servers into Microsoft’s Azure cloud),  while Cisco, EMC and VMware have also teamed up to offer a cloud infrastructure. Fundamentally, it's about joining forces to sell the hardware and software that will comprise private clouds. Ultimately, though, many of these IT megavendors are complimenting their latest and greatest on-premise solutions with a cloud offering.

The reality remains that many businesses are still wary of cloud computing. Despite some enterprises becoming more comfortable with the Cloud (such as Panasonic’s shift of 300,000 users to Lotus Live

Beyond the lack of control and latency are issues of cyber attacks, which can leave companies very vulnerable. The recent attack on Google shows that there are windows into datacenters and in the cloud, a company is only as secure as its weakest link.

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While there is a clear desire to slash CapEx, IT spending is set to grow by 4%-5% in 2010, and surveys from companies such as Symantec suggest that cloud computing is far down the list of priorities for spending in 2010 below security, backup and recovery and continuous data protection, essentially core compliance and governance issues.

Enterprise cloud computing is growing fast, but it will be a slower journey than many are predicting.

Andrew Brown

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