Cloud Computing Adoption Blocked by Company Executives

By | Dec 7, 2012

There is no denying that benefits exist for small and midsize companies that are prepared to invest in cloud-based solutions, as there are obvious cost advantages in out-sourcing certain processes, reducing hardware spend, and allowing flexible scaling as the need arises. However, as indicated on MiBiz, it seems company executives are somewhat confused when it comes to analyzing the possible benefits of cloud computing adoption. A recent survey, "the future of cloud computing," indicates that just 40 percent of those surveyed are experimenting with possible cloud solutions and approximately 25 percent announced that they are awaiting future developments before cloud computing options can even be considered, believing perceived security threats to be the biggest obstacle.

Derrick Harris, senior analyst at GigaOM Pro, indicated that, "Cloud computing is a multibillion-dollar industry today, but many companies are still unclear on which technologies they need, how they work together, who the main vendors are, and how to implement cloud technologies effectively." While this may be true to a certain extent, the fact remains that the biggest influencers when it comes to decisions involving cloud computing adoption will be IT professionals and company executives who are responsible for IT budgets.

Considerations

IT professionals in small and midsize companies will understand the benefits of cloud-based solutions but will also realize that implementation is a complicated process and not simply a handover of IT processes to a third-party service provider. Company owners and senior executives may determine the cost benefits of such a move with a view to downsizing the IT department. This is perhaps one of the biggest mistakes to make when considering a move to the cloud, as IT staff are still required to ensure that the service provider complies with existing internal IT policies. In fact, cloud computing can even increase IT staffing requirements, as all cloud-based applications will need to interface directly with in-house applications in a way that allows data analysis for multiple departments

The biggest difference in cloud-based scenarios is that the hardware involved is located in a remote data server, with the exception of private and hybrid clouds. Admittedly, this does remove some hardware responsibilities but, unfortunately, hardware support and maintenance is only a small fraction of the work carried out by the IT department. Managers expecting to reduce their IT resources as a consequence of adopting cloud computing services are making a serious mistake.

Transparency

IT professionals are always reluctant to hand responsibility for security to another company, and this is what happens in cloud computing. Companies are relying on service providers to secure data and prevent security breaches. Competent IT administrators will insist on transparency from service providers, demanding specific details on data security processes, frequency of updates, backup plans, and disaster recovery plans. Larger virtualization companies and service providers often provide a detailed cloud computing guide that effectively demonstrates their expertise in this area.

Owners of midsize companies are advised to listen to their IT administrators or CIOs and to value their recommendations or reservations in relation to cloud computing for specific company processes. Their input will be the most valuable and far less biased than sales pitches from possible providers. Every company will have different requirements and a universal "one-size-fits all" approach is rarely productive. Cloud computing has its advocates but can also disrupt existing processes if not implemented correctly by a competent service provider with an established reputation.

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

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