New research by Enterprise Management Associates says that while enterprises are showing a cautious face to the world on cloud computing, companies that have already tried cloud computing are planning to pile in enthusiastically.
"The estimate is 11% of [enterprises overall] are going to cloud next year," said Andi Mann, vice president of research, systems and storage management for EMA and lead author of the study.
"A lot of the griping and whinging you hear is the skeptics, and they certainly exist," he said. Despite the seeming coolness to cloud, though, Mann found that enterprises using cloud computing, public or private, almost always had positive results.
Study participants that already used Software as a Service (SaaS) or Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) products such as Salesforce.com or Amazon Web Services said that 25% of their IT was already outside the organization. And by 2012, more than half of IT consumption will be in the cloud. But are these cloud-adopting organizations somehow farther along than those that don't use cloud services?
"There are a number of different areas that point to this idea that cloud boosts maturity actively and not just passively," Mann said.
Mann said that when they asked respondents about private cloud, they found a clear distinction between low-level service improvements, such as scripting tasks and data center tools and service management. Those already sampling the cloud had settled the problems of administering and managing their own IT and were looking for better capabilities and performance for their dollars, and could thus be said to have more mature IT organizations.
Virtualization breeds maturity
"I think that's probably right," said Dr. Rich Wolski, computer scientist at UC-Santa Barbara and CTO at Eucalyptus, a for-profit open source cloud infrastructure provider. He said the progression from running IT to consuming IT did mean an enterprise was maturing. He wasn't ready to say, however, that cloud computing was the source of that maturity, rather insisting that it was the natural outcome.
"The argument against that is that a lot of that comes from virtualization, not from cloud," said Wolski.
Wolski said that the infrastructure management skills learned from virtualizing internally made it easier to look at cloud computing solutions, which can often be tucked right into existing systems management tools using application programming interfaces (APIs).
"So [the next] question is," he said, "how many are going to stop with virtualization?"
Wolski also said that the rapid uptake was an indication that cloud computing made economic sense. Once IT committed to using cloud services in a small way, they'd be quick to take advantages of even small margins in cost efficiency.
"Large IT organizations have seen lots of technological change," he said. "They are really looking at 'percent' differences. They've seen these changes in the past, they know how to prepare, they know how to ingress, they know how to transition, which is the trick."
Carl Brooks is the Technology Writer for SearchCloudComputing.com. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.