Cloud computing has been one of the most hyped IT strategies in recent years, with vendors scrambling to provide cloud-enabled technologies and businesses trying to figure out if this new model can deliver on its promises of cost savings. CompTIA’s 2nd Annual Trends in Cloud Computing study finds that beyond the hype, cloud is indeed a strategy that proves beneficial to end-users, and one that has significant momentum for years ahead.
Other firms agree with this assessment. Gartner projects public cloud service revenue to grow from $68.3 billion in 2010 to $102.1 billion in 2015. IDC also projects strong growth in cloud markets, at over five times the rate of traditional IT products. This growth is likely fueled by end-users gaining a deeper understanding and appreciation of cloud systems. In our study, 69 percent of end-users reported that they were familiar or very familiar with cloud computing, compared to 42 percent that had that level of familiarity a year ago. This improvement was especially noteworthy among small businesses (less than 100 employees) and business staff outside the IT function. In addition, 72 percent of the sample felt more positively about cloud computing than they did one year ago, mostly driven by a deeper conviction of the technical benefits.
These self-reported changes in understanding and perception do not signal that cloud computing implementations will proceed trouble-free. One reason is that companies will begin moving into more complex solutions. Simple Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions may have been the initial step taken into the cloud, but Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) are growing in popularity as companies realize they can do custom application development in the cloud without making large capital expenditures. While 32 percent of firms in our survey were using IaaS or PaaS, another 36 percent expect to use those solutions in the next year.
With more complex cloud implementations being undertaken, it will become more critical to address the challenges in transitioning to the cloud. Integration with existing systems is the top issue faced by current cloud users, with 88 percent of the sample classifying it as a major or minor challenge. Integration of new systems is always difficult, and interfacing to applications outside the corporate domain adds a layer of complexity. Many users may have underestimated the costs of integration, network upgrades, or training, since initial costs were listed by 82 percent of the sample as the second largest challenge.
The good news for solution providers is that 43 percent of firms contracted with outside companies to address the challenges faced during their cloud transition. This shows that companies who undertake the transition often do not have the skills on-hand to deal with the issues that come up. Those firms that are called in must have the knowledge necessary to navigate clients through the cloud transition and explain new trends in cloud usage.