IT vendors, analysts, and IT data center and systems managers tell eWEEK on a regular basis that hybrid cloud is the flavor they expect ultimately will be used most often within enterprises.
This is certainly logical. As enterprises—especially those with older systems—refresh their IT on an iterative basis, they are swapping out services they previously have had in-house and changing over to public cloud services for various workloads, with the intent to save money and employee time. This necessarily results in an IT system with a hybrid mix of on-site, public and/or private cloud components.
We're seeing cloud services replace former in-office functions, such as employee recruiting management, testing and development of software, travel and expense management, and employee benefit management. More and more consumer-facing apps—including for online payment, event and product sign-ups and other services—run on public clouds like Amazon's, Microsoft's and Rackspace's; these also are being built into older systems.
Private Clouds on Surprisingly Fast Ramp-Up
While this hybrid model may eventually become commonplace, private clouds are currently the most popular deployment model, especially among larger enterprises. This somewhat surprising news emanates from new research conducted by Palmer Research and QuinStreet Enterprise, the publisher of eWEEK, Datamation and CIO Insight, among others.
Palmer and QuinStreet's survey reported that 65 percent of respondents currently use or plan to use a private cloud deployment model for internal purposes or for application inside value chains. Thirty-six percent of respondents say they are now running a private cloud, with 29 percent planning to use a private cloud.
Private clouds enable businesses to take advantage of the efficiency of cloud computing without exposing their data and applications to those outside the organization—or, if they choose, their value chains of resellers and contractors. These private systems are the ones being marketed hardest by cloud infrastructure providers such as Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Cisco Systems, Oracle, EMC/VMware, Dell and others.
Security, Control Remain Top Issues
Despite steady adoption by enterprises of cloud systems in the last half-dozen years, the standard concerns around security (noted as "extremely" or "very" inhibiting by 70 percent of respondents), privacy (69 percent), uptime control (62 percent) and controls on data (61 percent) remain stubborn inhibitors to deploying cloud computing services and applications.
Software as a service (SaaS), which predates the term "cloud computing" and goes back to the application service provider concept of the late 1990s and early 2000s, is the most popular form of cloud computing service, QuinStreet survey respondents reported. A whopping 80 percent use or plan to use SaaS, the survey said.
Another relevant metric from the survey reports that about 60 percent of those companies surveyed currently use or plan to deploy more sophisticated types of cloud services within the next 12 months: infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and platform-as-a-service (PaaS). This indicates that the cloud service story is quickly being accepted on several different levels, according to the needs of each enterprise.
Amazon, Microsoft Lead in Brand Recognition
The survey also examined attitudes toward cloud-computing vendors. When measuring unaided brand awareness, respondents mentioned popular consumer-tech crossover brands the most, with 32 percent naming Amazon, 19 percent Microsoft and 11 percent Google.
Amazon is generally considered the pioneer in cloud computing, having launched its Web Services in 2006, and it has long been the No. 1 market leader. What is surprising here is that Microsoft, with its Azure Cloud, is cited by 19 percent of respondents; Windows Azure was launched only three years ago, in February 2010.
Other busy cloud services providers such as Rackspace and GoGrid are not in the top 3 in general recognition.
Not surprisingly, respondents cited system reliability as the most important criteria when they were in the initial stages of exploring solutions, regardless of the respondent's company size. Later in the sales cycle, when selecting vendors to include in an RFP, respondents cited customer service (90 percent) as important.
The survey was conducted online by Palmer Research using an email invitation sent to IT professionals and executives in the QuinStreet Enterprise database. All respondents were involved in the cloud computing purchasing process. The survey was completed by 341 qualified professionals on April 2 and 3, 2013. The margin of error is +/- 5.3% at a 95 percent confidence level.