Does The Cloud Always Meet Expectations?

Cloud computing is often seen as the future of IT, but just how well is it matching those expectations? A new study of Australian workplaces suggests there's a long way to go before we reach cloud nirvana, but also highlights that develop cloud skills can fast-track your career.

Symantec surveyed 5300 IT managers globally, including 350 in Australia, to assess how their workplace cloud projects were progressing. (I'm quoting figures from the Australian responses here, though the global responses weren't wildly different.)

Of the figures in the study, the one that jumped out is the often noticeable gap between what companies expected shifting to cloud-based systems would actually do. 86 per cent of companies expected a cloud solution to increase their agility, but only 52 per cent had seen that happen. The same gap was seen between expectations of improving disaster recovery capability (89 per cent expected it but only 55 per cent had achieved it). Even in the area of reducing operational expenses -- one of the most common basic arguments for cloud solutions -- only 52 per cent of companies had actually seen it happen.

That doesn't necessarily mean that the cloud option has failed, of course. In many cases, it might reflect the fact that projects involving cloud technology haven't yet been completed, and that inexperience means that goals haven't been well defined. "They don't have a massive skillset," Sean Kopelke, APJ director of data loss prevention solutions, told Lifehacker. "The expectations may not have been founded on a lot of experience."

The notion that cloud delivers savings also depends very much on the nature of the project, Kopelke suggested. "When you start looking at larger cloud projects, there's going to be a lot of up-front operational expenses. Potentially up front they won't realise those savings immediately. "

Those trends reflect another stark reality: finding IT workers with extensive cloud experience remains difficult. "A lot of it is around resourcing and staff. Only between 20 and 25 per cent actually have any staff who have got any skills in cloud environments. That's not really a big surprise. We've been talking about it, but in the world of IT as a whole it's still a relatively new trend. There's very few customers we have a conversation with who don't mention cloud, but very few have gone full core

Has the cloud rollout in your business delivered what you wanted? How has it changed your approach to work? Share your experiences in the comments.

Evolve is a weekly column at Lifehacker looking at trends and technologies IT workers need to know about to stay employed and improve their careers.


Comments

    Is there a link to the original report released by Symantec?

    In regards to the findings, the results are probably representative of any technology and show that people's expectations aren't always met. It may mean that people either don't have realistic expectations or don't understand the technology well enough (what is a Cloud or anything-as-a-service?)..

      Hi Alastair,

      I'm a Symantec employee and you can download the global report from here: http://www.symantec.com/about/news/resources/press_kits/detail.jsp?pkid=stateofcloud2011.

    We have been looking at replacing our servers with either a cloud solution or a hybrid mix. Management are holding back because of these exact reasons, how do they know that if they lay all the money down that we are actually going to get what we expected or be disappointed and in a worse position.

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