Adoption of Cloud Still Impacted by Data Security Perceptions

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Over 80 per cent of those organisations already using cloud services are expected to increase their commitment to this new supply model over the next year. This is according to the latest findings issued by the Cloud Industry Forum, following an extensive market research programme conducted earlier this year.

With almost half (48 per cent) of all organisations in the UK already using cloud computing in some form, 85 per cent of existing user are confidently predicting further roll-out of cloud provisioning across a number of core business applications. Central to this drive is the adoption of email management, data back-up and disaster recovery, storage and webhosting services, closely followed by accounting, service management, CRM, security, and Unified Communications.

Of those organisations not currently employing cloud services, almost a third (31 per cent) said that they anticipated adopting them in the next year, a further third (32 per cent) unsure at this time, and a slightly higher proportion (36 per cent) reporting that they had no plans to move into the cloud.

Closer analysis of the figures indicates that the drive to the cloud amongst those not currently using it is highest amongst the larger organisations with 42 per cent stating they planned to migrate over the next year. This is in sharp contrast to organisations employing under 20, where the figure dropped to 20 per cent.

The research, conducted in the first two months of 2011, polled 450 senior IT and business decision-makers in enterprises, small-to-medium businesses (SMBs) and public sector organisations; as well as 200 respondents from the channel.

The research highlighted that there are still several areas of concern that are limiting the rate of growth of cloud computing. End user organisations continue to express anxieties about data security, privacy and sovereignty, all of which were cited by a majority of respondents and in response to which the cloud industry needs to provide more practical guidance and comfort. Further it was interesting to note that 41 per cent of the participants did not want their data hosted outside the UK (sovereignty) and that this percentage increased for smaller businesses and public sector to exceed 50 per cent.

This is an interesting development as it reflects natural concerns driven by regulation (such as the Data Protection Act) but also has a sense of national law providing a higher level of comfort to cloud users. This is particularly relevant as it requires end users to understand where their potential data will reside in a hosted environment and requires the cloud industry to ensure that it caters for clarity and choice in the design and delivery of SAAS and IAAS solutions as a one-size-fits all delivery will not meet all organisations requirements, regardless of cost benefits.

Adoption of cloud services relating to employee or customer data was perceived by most users as to be higher risk than any other IT activity. Again there is a lack of confidence and clarity surrounding the protection of data online that the industry should seek to educate the market on to build confidence and trust on this critical topic.

Andy Burton, Chair of the Cloud Industry Forum, stated: “The migration to the cloud has been rapid and its adoption is already widespread within all manner of organisations, from large enterprises to small businesses, and in both the public and private sectors.

While satisfaction with cloud services is, at 94 per cent, extremely high, what is truly remarkable is that cloud adoption is happening successfully across all types and sizes of organisation across every industry sector. This simultaneous move to a new type of technology-led business model is a rare and perhaps a unique phenomenon in business IT: it is usually only the large organisations and enterprises that can afford to be the pioneers of new technology,” he added.

“End-user organisations continue to express anxieties about data security, privacy and sovereignty, all of which were cited by a majority of respondents and all of which the industry can and need to present a clearer position around to allay these natural fears. Security concerns have forever been a feature of discussions on the cloud, although that is not in any way to make light of such an important issue. Clearly, the cloud industry needs to provide more clarity and practical guidance and comfort on these issues in order to allay natural concerns of, and win over, the undecided to the benefits of the cloud model,” added Chris Baldock, Managing Director of intY.

“The Cloud Industry Forum’s research findings indicate that companies, large and small, are investigating the best ways to use cloud as part of their overall IT strategy,” said Stuart Simms, VP Cloud Rackspace and CIF member. “Cloud enables businesses to buy computing as a service over the Internet, avoiding the expense and hassle of owning and managing their own hardware. It’s a new, less expensive, more agile way for businesses to do IT and manage their innovation cycles.”