Users want reduced cloud complexity and more interoperability, study finds

Cloud adoption has risen in 2013 but to yield its true benefits, cloud complexity must be reduced and interoperability increased, shows study

Cloud adoption has continued to rise in 2013, but to yield the true benefits of cloud computing its complexity must be reduced and cloud interoperability increased, according to the third Future of Cloud Computing survey.

The study of 855 IT decision-makers, suppliers and CIOs – which was carried out by Venture Partners, GlassHouse Technologies and GigaOM Research – revealed that a wide majority (75%) of respondents used some form of cloud computing. This was 8% more than the 2012 survey.

The rise in cloud adoption was attributed to the decrease in security fears of cloud-based services.

Cloud formations are on an unstoppable rise, driven by self-empowered businesses and consumers regardless of IT, said Michael Skok, general partner at North Bridge Venture Partners.

IT teams are investing heavily both in adapting internal infrastructure and adopting public infrastructure to respond to demand, while managing the inevitable issues of compliance and regulation through hybrid approaches, he said.

“But to realise the promise of the cloud, there is a clear call for the industry as a whole to help reduce complexity and provide better interoperability.”

Cloud interoperability would allow users to move applications and workloads back and forth between private and public clouds and from one public cloud to another. This way, IT can select the best cloud technologies for relevant applications and avoid single supplier lock-in.

But experts have argued that without any industry-wide cloud standards, suppliers have built proprietary cloud services on software stacks that are not compatible with the stacks used in public clouds, making interoperability or portability difficult.

Growth of IaaS adoption

The study also found that while software as a service (SaaS) remained the most popular form of cloud service, strongest growth was recorded in the infrastructure as a service (IaaS) area. IaaS grew by 29% from last year.

“The growth in IaaS aligns with what respondents saw as the fastest growing cloud companies – naming Amazon, Microsoft, Google and Rackspace, all providers of cloud infrastructure, as the top four cloud companies,” said Kevin Beadon, head of workspace strategies at GlassHouse.

As the growth in BYOD and changes to workplace strategies gather pace, it is no surprise that IaaS now represents the most lucrative area of the "as a service" line, said Beadon.

Cost benefits of cloud computing re-evaluated

One surprise finding of the study was how few respondents cited cost savings as a top benefit of using cloud computing services.

Lower spending was considered one of the primary factors for initial cloud adoption back in the mid-2000s.

But the number of IT chiefs who felt the cloud would lead to lower spending fell by nearly half, down to 10%, and the number who believed spending would increase rose to 30%.

The 2013 survey highlighted the gulf between the initial predictions of the mid-2000s, and the reality regarding the primary benefits for deploying cloud, researchers said.

The ability to stay agile, scale an organisation rapidly, innovate, and a desire to change fixed capital costs to operating expenditures were cited as the key driving forces behind cloud adoption, said Beadon.

Technology buyers expected cloud adoption to make managing IT increasingly complex, but also expected overall better cost of ownership.

"That's either wishful thinking or an intriguing opportunity for suppliers and systems integrators," said David Card, vice-president of research at GigaOM.

“Cloud services are being adopted and used in a boundaryless way where users are seamlessly integrating them at home and work across all their devices. And in an increasingly mobile pattern of business today companies are compelled to accept and adopt this BYOC [bring your own cloud] model.

“In fact, businesses themselves are adopting the boundaryless approach as they look to dis-intermediate and squeeze money from their value chains, focus on their core competencies and outsource non-core services via the cloud,” said Card.

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