Enterprise cloud computing gaining ground

More than 80% of large enterprises are at least in the trial stages for public and private cloud computing deployments, although there is still significant confusion and concern about the definition of the concept, according to a survey conducted by Applied Research on behalf of application delivery networking company F5 Networks. Some 250 responses were received from companies with 2,500 or more employees.

Enterprises are being drawn to cloud computing by "the promise of an agile, scalable IT infrastructure and reduced costs". But widespread adoption is dependent on certain hurdles being overcome, primarily related to access, security and performance concerns. Jason Needham, Senior Director of Product Management at F5, noted: "as organizations turn to the cloud to increase IT agility, it is important for them to understand the technical components of the cloud and how the cloud will affect the network before developing an implementation strategy".

Just over half of respondents (51%) are using public cloud computing, with 18% implementing and 13% in trials -- only 1% were not already involved and had not plans to join their peers. The numbers were similar for private cloud computing: 45% are using, 22% implementing, and 16% are in trials -- and again just 1% are not interested.

Budgets are also reflecting the increase of cloud computing in the enterprise, with 66% of respondents now stating that they have dedicated budgets for this. Additionally, 71% expect cloud computing budgets to grow during the next two years. Key drivers for public cloud deployments were identified as efficiency (77%), reduced capital costs (68%) and easing staffing issues (61%).

With increasing amounts of cash being pointed toward the cloud, IT managers are also examining critical enabling technologies: 90% named access control as "somewhat/very important", with 89% stating that security is a core technology, and 88% listing server and storage virtualisation as essential technologies in the cloud.

In terms of definition, when presented with six alternatives, respondents failed to identify any one which was "just right". A focus group did define an acceptable definition, but it ran to 83 words and three sentences.

Although software as a service (SaaS) was described as an important component of cloud computing, respondents ranked it lower on the importance list than "platform as a service" and "infrastructure as a service".

Anthony Plewes

After a Masters in Computer Science, I decided that I preferred writing about IT rather than programming. My 20-year writing career has taken me to Hong Kong and London where I've edited and written for IT, business and electronics publications. In 2002 I co-founded Futurity Media with Stewart Baines where I continue to write about a range of topics such as unified communications, cloud computing and enterprise applications.