I spoke with Avanade CTO Tyson Hartman on Friday, ahead of the company’s publication of results from their Cloud Computing survey this morning. This study, conducted for Avanade by Kelton Research, interviewed 502 senior executives in seventeen countries. It found that 65% of those surveyed internationally (and 80% in the US) believe Cloud Computing to cut up-front costs, yet a significant majority still baulk at deploying their own applications to the Cloud and cite fears related to security threats and loss of control.
Quoted in Avanade’s press release, Hartman notes;
This global study reveals that business and IT leaders recognize the business benefits of cloud computing for making a meaningful difference in their organizations. At the same time, fears about security and control of data are limiting its broad adoption. One of the pressing issues that lies before our industry is addressing these perceived barriers and helping businesses develop a strategy to begin deploying cloud-based services today and build a long-term roadmap to capitalize on the business value of cloud computing in the future.
Alongside these perceived barriers to adoption, it’s interesting to note the survey reporting that;
early adopters of cloud computing report they are increasing their investments in this technology after seeing reduced up-front IT costs and improved agility to respond quickly to market conditions.
So once you’re past the initial hurdle, the benefits prove compelling and adoption increases. How, then, do we tackle the challenge of ensuring that those initial steps are taken?
We’ve already seen evidence of one successful strategy in the adoption of SaaS solutions such as Salesforce; rather than competing directly against powerful incumbents for the CIO’s attention, offer affordable low-end disruptors directly to teams and individuals on the ground. By appealing to front-line requirements and remaining at a price point low enough to slip through on credit cards and in expenses claims, it can be easier to gain the toehold within an organisation that will make it possible to demonstrate value and grow organically and address an ever-increasing proportion of the available need.
Whether they are customers of IBM and Microsoft or not, most large enterprises must surely have taken note of Microsoft’s moves with Azure and IBM’s recent announcements. These target a very different set of motivations to the low end disruptors discussed, above, and go a long way toward cementing the credibility of Cloud Computing as an approach. It may no longer be true that ‘no one ever got fired for buying IBM,’ but for these two giants of the software world to explicitly embrace the Cloud is a far more powerful statement to the more conservative CxOs than all the best efforts of Amazon and other ‘newcomers’ to computing.
Returning to my conversation with Hartman, we agreed that the most visible early adoption of Cloud Computing is in small & medium businesses – and startups – where the advantages of insignificant up-front capital expenditure, manageable costs, simple management and rapid scaling are both compelling and clear. Ironically, these are the very organisations least likely to be picked up by traditional analysts and surveys that tend to gravitate toward the Fortune 500 and their global peers. Amongst these larger organisations Hartman suggested that many are actively experimenting with Cloud Computing, especially in lowering the cost of commodity IT solutions for functions such as email, calendaring and CRM. He argued that we need to see some of these companies beginning to discuss the benefits and savings in public, and seemed confident that examples would be clear within the next couple of Quarters. Examples such as last week’s Wall Street Journal item on the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee‘s switching of 50,000 email and calendar accounts to Zimbra are just the beginning.
Avanade is a global IT consultancy, founded in 2000 by Accenture and Microsoft, and still majority owned by Accenture with approximately 60% of revenue originating from the consultancy giant’s projects. Unusually for firms of this type, Avanade currently limits its software development activities to the Microsoft platform.
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