Enterprises are beginning to embrace cloud computing, according to a recent survey conducted by application delivery networking vendor F5 Networks.
In a survey of IT professionals at 250 companies conducted in June and July, 99 percent said they were either discussing or implementing public or private cloud computing solutions, and more than 80 percent said they were at least in the trial stages of deployments.
However, though there is growing interest in the computing model, there also are questions around such key issues as management and security, as well as confusion around the definition of cloud computing, according to Jason Needham, senior director of product management for F5.
"It's no surprise that large enterprises are attracted to cloud computing because of the promise of an agile, scalable IT infrastructure and reduced costs," Needham said in a statement. "However ... widespread enterprise adoption of cloud computing is contingent upon solving access, security and performance concerns."
However, the momentum is clear, according to the survey results, which were released Aug. 24. More than half said they had already deployed a public cloud environment, and 45 percent said they were already using private clouds. In addition, 66 percent said they have a budget for cloud computing, and another 71 percent expect cloud computing budgets to grow during the next two years.
However, finding a solid definition of cloud computing is difficult, according to F5 officials. They gave the respondents six different definitions of cloud computing, with those surveyed being unable to say that any definition fit into the "just right" category.
Industry observers, including analysts at Gartner and Frank Gillett, an analyst at Forrester Research, have said vendors and customers need to be clear about what exactly they're talking about when discussing cloud computing deployments.
A focus group conducted by F5 officials came up with the following as a strong definition:
""Cloud computing is a style of computing in which dynamically scalable and often virtualized resources are provided as a service. Users need not have knowledge of, expertise in, or control over the technology infrastructure in the 'cloud' that supports them. Furthermore, cloud computing employs a model for enabling available, convenient and on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.""
According to F5 officials, while SAAS (software as a service) is most commonly equated with cloud computing, 75 percent of IT professionals surveyed felt that PAAS (platform as a service), and two-thirds said IAAS (infrastructure as a service) are always included in the cloud. About three-fifths said SAAS was usually or always part of a cloud deployment.
Access control, security, and server and storage virtualization were considered key technologies for cloud computing.
Key drivers for both public and private clouds were IT efficiency, reducing capital costs, easing staff issues and agility.