I'm talking to a lot of customers about cloud computing. Really, I am - and, in general, CIOs aren't nearly as negative about the cloud as some of the media might think. Yes, cloud is a re-branding of some internet-based processing, storage and security services, but it brings new services and new opportunities that are being fed into IT strategy as well.
I wasn't too surprised, then, when I saw the results of our State of the Cloud Survey which were announced at Symantec Vision in Barcelona a week ago. The survey showed that about three quarters of respondents were having discussions about the different kinds of cloud, and how they might be adopted.Of particular interest to me (obviously) was what people thought about security in the cloud, which was seen as both a blessing and a curse. Many respondents said that they were implementing cloud-based security, which led the pack in terms of services adoption. However and clearly, security concerns play a big part in cloud decision making. This certainly reflects what I am hearing - that for confidential data for example, organisations are understandably reluctant to hold over the keys to an online third party.
Having finished reading the survey, I was left wondering about how quickly things have already moved on. Cloud has gone from a marketing idea to a reality remarkably quickly, and adoption is following suit - but not necessarily in the way marketers had initially planned. From where I'm standing activity is in two areas: firstly adoption of specific cloud services, and second, use of virtualisation as an entry point to more flexible IT delivery - the private cloud.
Now I don't have a crystal ball but it may be that these two adoption approaches run along parallel tracks for some time yet. In which case it's less about a journey to the cloud as one place, and more about continuous improvement in terms of how online services are procured in particular, and how IT is delivered in general. It is possible to go down both paths at once, but progress will be faster if each is recognised for what it is.