||5/15/2012 11:04:26 AM|
The Great Divide: IT Manager versus the IT User, the Cloud Promise
POLLARA Strategic Insights News bulletin
The Great Divide: IT Manager versus the IT User
The Cloud Promise
Although cloud computing may appear to be one of the hottest technologies on the market, there still seems to be plenty of confusion surrounding adoption rates, acceptance and awareness. You may be surprised at how many Canadian companies are still not familiar with cloud services. Based on a recent survey conducted by the BMO Financial Group, 50% of businesses in Canada are not aware of what cloud computing is, and only 10% plan to use the technology moving forward. The remaining 40% have no immediate plans to adopt the cloud in the near future. The reverse seems to be true across the border in the U.S., where according to an IDG survey of nearly 600 IT professionals, 60% percent of companies are currently using at least one cloud application, while more than 70% plan to increase cloud spending in the next year.
Either we are seeing distinctly different adoption and spend trends across countries, or something is amiss. One thing is for certain, however: the story is clearly different when asking users what they know about cloud computing and how often they use cloud based apps and services.
Gap between Users and IT
A recent POLLARA survey conducted with 1,061 employees across Canadian businesses provided insight from an end user perspective. These results show that a significant disparity exists between usage and awareness from a user versus IT manager or vendor perspective. The illusion of near ubiquity that seems to surround cloud services from an industry perspective all but vanishes when surveying employees who actually use technology in various capacities to get their jobs done. It appears as though the great divide between IT decision makers and everyone else may have found a new haven in the cloud.
Perception is Everything
The numbers in the POLLARA survey may be a stronger indication of employee awareness and understanding of cloud services in their companies, than actual usage-specific data of cloud based applications and services. However, it is the impression average employees have about cloud usage in their companies that is highly relevant to the potential success or failure of any future cloud related deployment.
Based on the findings in this survey, current or planned usage of cloud solutions across companies in Canada is in some cases near embryonic. Any IT manager knows how much easier it is to implement a new process or technology when it is embraced, anticipated or at least understood by those who will be using it. On the flip side, a CIOs worst nightmare (other than failed implementations and inflated budgets) is user mutiny. The fact that cloud computing appears to be misunderstood and perhaps feared by the average user warrants further consideration by corporate IT leaders and decision makers across companies.
Although adoption rates appear to fare considerably better from an industry perspective, there are still indications that slow uptake is an issue from IT managers' perspective. An independent global survey carried out with IT managers in eight countries by Quocirca, a UK based research group during February and November 2011, revealed that a sizeable proportion of respondents regarded cloud as either not (right) for their organization or just a passing fad. Clive Longbottom , the founder and service director for Quocirca, stated that, "Whereas many vendors and industry commentators tend to see cloud as being well progressed within organizations, real-world feedback does not necessarily support such a view." Findings from the first cycle of research conducted in February revealed that 28% of respondents felt that cloud had no part in their organisation’s future. By the second phase of research in November, this had dropped to 21.5%. Although positive, one in five organizations are still not seeing much promise through cloud computing.
"There is movement in perceptions, but much still has to be done in order to make cloud be perceived as a mainstream technology platform." Longbottom noted that cost and flexibility were top reasons why organizations consider cloud, but security, performance and "a sheer visceral fear of the unknown" seemed to paralyze the actual movement of many organizations from internal systems that are currently constraining their capabilities to a more flexible cloud-based environment. On a positive note, those seeing cloud as an important or critical part of their future IT platform grew from 44% to 54% from February to November- making the development of intelligent pre-implementation user focused strategies even more crucial to the successful deployment of any cloud-based initiative.
Cloud Services: Far from Mind and Mainstream
A total of 37% of employees in the POLLARA survey were not aware of whether their companies are using any type of cloud service. An additional 43% said that their companies were not using cloud solutions, nor did they have any active plans to do so over the next year. Only 16% of respondents indicated that their employers were already using cloud technology in some form, either as a centrepoint solution, in combination with other technologies or in support of existing solutions - and four percent said that their companies were planning to implement cloud computing in the next six to twelve months. This brings the total number of respondents who confirmed usage or planned usage within their companies to 20%.
SaaS, Storage and Desktop as a Service Highest Overall
Out of the five cloud services included in the survey, SaaS showed the highest rate of current or planned usage based on employee perception - with a total of 25% of respondents saying they either use or plan to use SaaS over the next 12 months. Close to half (48%) are still not using SaaS and nearly one third aren't aware of whether SaaS is used at their companies . Use of infrastructure as a service was at the low end of adoption and awareness- with only 12% using or planning to use this service at their company, while 55% indicated they were not using this service - and one third simply did not know.
A total of 20% of employees either use or plan to use storage as a service, whereas 51% said there were no plans to do so at their company. Usage of platform as a service was considerably lower, however this finding may be more relative to the degree of awareness which exists in the general employee population when it comes to this somewhat nascent service. Usage and awareness for desktop as a service are closer to SaaS, with 22% of respondents indicating they use or plan to use desktop as a service at their company, while close to half (48%) do not use or plan to use this service.
Variable versus Fixed IT Costs:
Users Ambivalent about Variable versus Fixed Cost Model
It’s sometimes thought that cloud and outsourcing are similar in important ways, such as avoiding high capital and staff costs, but they have an notable difference as well, in that cloud represents a variable-cost approach to obtaining IT capability, whereas traditional outsourcing provides a fixed cost and term. Typically the decision as to what solution to ado