The Cloud “Through a Glass, Darkly”

Results of The Open Group “State of the Industry” Cloud Survey

By Dr. Chris Harding, The Open Group

Cloud Computing has been a major topic of interest and excitement in the world of Information Technology for a couple of years now. This is time enough for enterprises to understand its impact, or so you would think. So how exactly are they planning to make use of this phenomenon?

Obtaining a clear view of a current cloud such as Cloud Computing is notoriously difficult. It is like trying to see the world outside clearly through the dirty, distorted windows that were commonplace in England in the 17th century, when the simile “as through a glass, darkly” became established. But the “State of the Industry” Cloud survey, released today by The Open Group, sheds light on the topic, and provides some interesting insights.

The Open Group is a vendor- and technology-neutral consortium of IT customers and vendors, with a strong focus on Enterprise Architecture. The State of the Industry survey captures the views of its customer side, which is well representative of the global IT user community. It gives us a good understanding of how user enterprises currently perceive the Cloud.

Cloud certainly has the users’ attention. Only 8% of survey respondents said that Cloud was not currently on their IT roadmap. But substantial take-up is only just starting. Nearly half of those for whom Cloud is on the roadmap have not yet begun to use it, and half of the rest have only started recently.

The respondents have a clear idea of how they will use the Cloud. The majority expect to have some element of private Cloud, with 29% saying that private Cloud would best meet their organisations’ business requirements, and 45% saying that hybrid Cloud would do so, as opposed to 17% for public Cloud. Only 9% were unsure.

They also have a clear view of the advantages and drawbacks. Cost, agility, and resource optimisation came out as the three main reasons for using Cloud Computing, with business continuity also a significant factor. Security, integration issues, and governance were the three biggest concerns, with ability to cope with change, vendor lock-in, cost to deploy, and regulatory compliance also being significant worries.

Return on Investment (ROI) is probably the most commonly used measure of success of a technical change, and The Open Group has produced a landmark White Paper “Building Return on Investment from Cloud Computing”. The survey respondents felt on balance (by 55% to 45%) that Cloud ROI should be easy to evaluate and justify. Cost, quality of delivered result, utilisation, speed of operation, and scale of operation were felt to be the most useful Cloud ROI metrics. But only 35% had mechanisms in place to measure Cloud ROI as opposed to 45% that did not, with the other 20% being unsure.

The question on the impact of Cloud produced the most striking of the survey’s results. While 82% said that they expected their Cloud initiatives to have significant impact on one or more business processes, only 28% said that they were prepared for these changes.

Cloud Computing is primarily a technical phenomenon, but it has the ability to transform business. Its lower cost and increased agility and speed of operation can dramatically improve profitability of existing business processes. More than this, and perhaps more importantly, it enables new ways of collaborative working and can support new processes. It is therefore not surprising that people do not yet feel fully prepared — but it is interesting that the survey should bring this point out quite so clearly.

The ability to transform business is the most exciting feature of the Cloud phenomenon. But users currently see it “through a glass darkly,” and perhaps with a measure of faith and hope. There is a lesson in this for industry consortia such as The Open Group. More needs to be done to develop understanding of the business impact of Cloud Computing, and we should focus on this, as well as on the technical possibilities.

To obtain a copy of the survey, download it here, or media may email us a request at opengrouppr@opengroup.org.

Cloud Computing is a major topic of discussion at The Open Group Conference, London, which is currently underway.

Dr. Chris Harding is Director for Interoperability and SOA at The Open Group. He has been with The Open Group for more than ten years, and is currently responsible for managing and supporting its work on interoperability, including SOA and interoperability aspects of Cloud Computing. Before joining The Open Group, he was a consultant, and a designer and development manager of communications software. With a PhD in mathematical logic, he welcomes the current upsurge of interest in semantic technology, and the opportunity to apply logical theory to practical use. He has presented at The Open Group and other conferences on a range of topics, and contributes articles to online journals. He is a member of the BCS, the IEEE, and AOGEA, and is a certified TOGAF® practitioner. Chris is based in the U.K.

6 Comments

Filed under Cloud/SOA

6 responses to “The Cloud “Through a Glass, Darkly”

  1. Mark

    I think the open group survey shows 2011 to be the year that drives towards private cloud. I noticed the title came up a year ago by Gartner blog too http://blogs.gartner.com/thomas_bittman/2010/02/09/cloud-computing-through-a-glass-darkly/ but whats interesting is how things have moved on from a lack of clear cloud computing requirements blogged in 2010 and the emergence of a trend in cloud picked up in 2011. The 82% seems to suggest customers expect a high ROI so cloud may be entering and phase of inflated expectation but potential start of a benefits gain

  2. Pingback: Twtpoll results from The Open Group Conference, London | The Open Group Blog

  3. Pingback: Understanding security aspects of Cloud initiatives | The Open Group Blog

  4. Pingback: Twtpoll results from The Open Group Conference, Austin | The Open Group Blog

  5. Neat blog! Is your theme custom made or did you download it from somewhere? A theme like yours with a few simple tweeks would really make my blog shine. Please let me know where you got your theme. Thanks

  6. Cloud is make money for those big cpmpanies