One of the hottest topics in IT right now is cloud computing. Everyone seems to be talking about how it can revolutionize the way companies do business. And yet, despite all of the discussion, it’s hard to know where businesses actually stand when it comes to adopting cloud technologies. To accurately measure attitudes and adoption rates, Symantec commissioned a worldwide survey of 5,300 organizations, representing 38 countries. The survey revealed that the majority of businesses are talking about and evaluating cloud computing, but few have crossed the finish line in terms of implementation.
Security and IT Staff Readiness are Key
The first thing we uncovered in the survey is that security is both a top goal and a top concern among businesses. In fact, it was the number one concern expressed by respondents in regards to cloud computing. At the same time, however, 87 percent believe moving to the cloud will either not impact or will actually improve their IT security.
The second finding is that despite the high level of interest, IT staff members are simply not ready for the cloud. Less than 25 percent of IT employees have cloud experience and half of the respondents rated themselves as less than somewhat prepared. Three-fourths of organizations surveyed acknowledged that changing the way IT works was a significant or extreme challenge when trying to successfully adopt cloud computing.
Talk vs. Action
Three-quarters of organizations are as least discussing cloud computing in some form, although far fewer have implemented it. In fact, less than 20 percent of businesses have completed implementing any of the cloud initiatives we asked them about. Currently, about two-thirds of them are only in the discussion stage or trials, or not making any preparations at all to move to the cloud.
While the infrastructure areas of cloud computing are still in the early stages of adoption, the utilization of cloud services is much higher. Nearly three-quarters of businesses have adopted or are in the process of adopting some form of cloud service. Security services are currently the most popular, including email management, Web and IM security, and log or incident management.
Results vs. Expectations
It’s no surprise that businesses have high hopes when implementing such a fundamental shift in their IT operation as the move to cloud computing. In many cases, however, the reality is that these goals are not being entirely met once they have implemented the cloud solution. One goal set by many organizations, for example, is increasing IT agility. While 88 percent of those who have implemented cloud initiatives anticipated this would be the case, only 47 percent of them actually realized that benefit.
In order to make sure you can make the transition to the cloud effectively, Symantec has developed the following recommendations for businesses.
· Take the lead in embracing cloud computing. In order to ensure that you are adopting the right technologies and can maintain control over the process, IT should take the initiative. Make sure your staff is trained and prepared to deal with issues such as security and availability.
· Set information and application tiers. When it comes to ensuring availability and security, it’s important to establish priorities. Analyze your applications and data, and place them into tiers to determine what you are comfortable placing into the cloud.
· Assess your risk and set appropriate policies. One of the most basic steps toward information security is to set policies establishing who has access to critical information. In addition, look for a cloud vendor that will allow you to meet compliance requirements and can offer you high availability and the right recovery options in the event of a disaster.
· Get started now. Don’t be afraid to test a non-critical portion of your IT needs in a cloud environment. The modular nature of cloud computing means you can implement as little or as much as you want, in order to find what will best suit your needs. Start with a cloud service before you take on infrastructure changes.