Business up in the Air over Cloud Computing

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It may be the most talked about IT trend in years but business owners and managers are still baffled about what cloud computing is and what it can deliver.

That’s the finding of a new survey from The PC Support Group, which reveals that only 42 per cent of directors and senior managers across the UK can claim a grasp of what cloud computing is, while just 16 per cent are planning to use the technology in 2011.

Often misleadingly described as a new delivery model for IT, cloud computing is in fact Internet-based computing, whereby software and storage are provided to computers and other devices on-demand. A common consumer-based cloud system is Facebook where the users have no thoughts or concerns over who is maintaining the interface and hardware it runs on, or where the data is stored.

Industry commentators predicted 2010 would be the year cloud computing came of age, but to date the take up has not matched the hype in the business community.

Nearly half (49 per cent) of the 750 respondents saw ease of working together across multiple locations as the principle benefit of this approach, while 30 per cent cited reduced capital costs.

The biggest barrier to entry (30 per cent) is security concerns, while doubts about the quality of service if something went wrong is highlighted by a quarter of respondents.

“Most businesses have IT at the heart of operations, so it’s hardly surprising that there’s a lot of talk about the potential of cloud computing, and no less surprising that reality does not always match the dream, ” said Philip Bird, managing director of The PC Support Group, which has a network of branches across the UK.

“Too many IT companies are blindly pushing cloud computing as suitable for everyone, whilst some IT professionals are simply worried it will do them out of a job. As with all advances and changes in technology, it is usually a combination of products and services that work best. The invention of wireless networking hasn’t removed the need for wired networks – it depends on the circumstances and what the business needs as to which you use, when and where.”

“We’re not expecting to see a tectonic shift in the uptake of cloud computing services next year,” added Philip Bird, “but there will be more headlines and with such a strong focus on reducing cost and improving efficiency more businesses will need to review their IT requirements.”