European Businesses Look to the Cloud to Drive Business Agility, Not Just Save Cost

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Pan-European research shows that enterprises are putting the cloud at the heart of their IT strategy, with 48 percent seeing it as key to empowering agility and business performance

As organisations strive to compete in today’s economy, with workers demanding instant access to information wherever they are, the cloud is becoming a critical part of modern business strategy. Supporting this trend are the results from a new research project1 from Brocade (Nasdaq: BRCD) indicating that 48 percent of European businesses are already actively deploying cloud architectures, with more than half of respondents citing business agility as the key driver. Cost-savings, operational or capital, were of secondary concern at 16 and 14 percent, respectively.

For the purpose of this project, Brocade defined cloud computing as a style of computing in which scalable and elastic IT-enabled capabilities are provided as a service over public networks, including the Internet. The study showed that nearly half of European businesses are already using cloud computing, and a further 31 percent are expected to have started the planning and migration to a distributed computing model within the next year. Of those companies that have already embraced the cloud, 85 percent of respondents stated that they plan to further scale their deployments over the next 12 months to manage critical business processes such as data backup and retrieval.

The performance, reliability and manageability of their networks will be a critical factor in the successful operation of these clouds. According to Gartner, through 2013, at least 60 percent of enterprises will experience slow or inconsistent application performance due to improper network design2. Recognizing that the network is pivotal in defining the user experience in both public and private clouds, Brocade – working in association with the Cloud Industry Forum – found that close to 90 percent of respondents included the cloud within their IT strategy decision-making. With business agility being the core driver for adoption, any failure in service provisioning would have a dramatic impact on productivity, illustrating the need for the network to be cloud-optimised at every point.

“The cloud has been in the media spotlight for several years, and many businesses see it as the magic answer to a wide range of operational challenges,” stated Alberto Soto, Vice President EMEA at Brocade. “However, unless a well-considered IT strategy is in place, the cloud can cause more problems than it solves. Today, the way we work is very different than it was 10, or even five years ago. The networks of that period were not designed to be cloud-optimised, so expecting them to cope with today’s needs is doomed to fail. Our research suggests that companies are beginning to recognize this and that cloud-based strategies are being driven from within the IT department. Addressing the commercial needs of the business, IT leaders can develop a strategic blueprint for a truly cloud-optimised network, therefore ensuring a successful deployment.”

Andy Burton, chairman of the Cloud Industry Forum, commented: “Over recent years the market has been primarily focusing on the cost savings afforded by cloud migration. This research proves, whilst financial benefits are achieved and do drive further investment from companies already using the cloud, it is the agility given to businesses [to deliver new services, access technology quickly and to offer solutions that they did not already have] that has driven initial adoption. This is the true value of the cloud.”

However, challenges to widespread adoption of the cloud remain. According to the study, almost two-thirds of companies still question the cloud’s inherent security; they would refrain from placing sensitive data, such as employee records, in the cloud, which shows that more work in this area needs to be done.