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Cloud computing myths and the developer’s role

The Open Group's new survey of cloud specialists shows changing roles afoot.

Cloud has been the buzzword at the center of most IT discussions in recent years. However, who is adopting it, how fast, why and with what results has been unclear. To better understand cloud implementation and other aspects of cloud, The Open Group conducted a survey during the first quarter of this year focusing on cloud specialists at global organizations ranging in size from fewer than 200 to more than 5,000 employees.

The results have now been released and they include:

  • According to the Open Group, 55% of buying decisions required both CEO and CIO level approval; IT directors ranked third in importance while enterprise architects came in a distant fourth, with just 7% of buying authority.
  •  Cost reduction was the biggest incentive for cloud implementation, with 21% of participants citing this option. However, timeliness and agility of new services and resource optimization were not far behind, ranked as “top” by 19% and 17% of those surveyed, respectively.
  • When asked if cloud ROI would be easy to evaluate and justify, 55% of participants responded that it would be easy to justify, while 45% stated that it would be difficult. However, evaluation is another matter; only 35% of participants said they had mechanisms in place to determine ROI.
  • Organizations say they do want to measure ROI and that the two most important ways of doing that are determining cost savings and how effective cloud is at delivering a specified result (29% and 21% of respondents, respectively).
  • Cloud security is the biggest concern for organizations as they implement private, public and hybrid cloud solutions. Integration issues and governance were also major concerns.
  • 82% of survey participants expect cloud to significantly impact one or more business processes, but only 28% are prepared for these changes.

That last finding was one that particularly stood out for Dr. Chris Harding, Forum Director for The Open Group Cloud Computing Work Group, the SOA Work Group and the Semantic Interoperability Work Group. “Maybe it shouldn’t be surprising but it is worrisome that users recognize that cloud computing will impact their business processes, but that they are not yet prepared to handle that impact or, in many cases, even to measure it,” he says. On the other hand, notes Harding, it may be simply that organizations still aren’t quite sure how cloud will impact them.

Another issue that Harding found interesting was the strong preference for hybrid cloud approaches shown by respondents (45%) with private cloud running a close second at 29%. The remaining respondents were divided between “unsure” and a preference for public cloud. “Some of it may be a psychological issue – no one in IT is going to say it is better to have someone else do it,” he says. But beyond that, there may be an economic argument for private or hybrid, he says.

“If you have a fairly steady processing load, cloud doesn’t make much sense, but if you have a variable load it can be appealing,” he says. However, Harding theorizes that respondents from larger organizations may see enough variability within business units and departments, for example, that the overall load balances out – making an ideal environment for private cloud. “That will probably be cheaper than going to an external cloud supplier,” he adds.

Harding says he was not really surprised by most of the results in the survey. However, he notes, there are a number of implications for developers. For instance, with the amount of interest in hybrid cloud solutions it means there will be many integration challenges, “especially if you have different cloud solutions, rather than just one,” he says.

“The developers will play a major role in sorting that out,” he says. Furthermore, he notes, the degree of interest in private cloud may mean that the IT department is not being displaced by the move to cloud but is instead going to be transformed so that it becomes responsible for delivering the cloud services within the enterprise. “That could be good news for developers in terms of reducing the number of hoops they need to jump through when they need resources,” he adds.

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