While 2009 saw a 36% uptake by business in the UK and US, 2010 saw that figure climb to a majority. What has prompted business to embrace cloud services?
The majority (51%) of UK and US organisations use some form of cloud computing service. This is according to the results of the July 2010 Cloud Adoption Survey, sponsored by Mimecast and conducted by Loudhouse.

On the local front, and despite the array of cloud services being offered by local providers being on par  with international counterparts, uptake lags international norms, says , executive for Cloud  Services at . “The onus lies on the service providers to give the right level of  comfort to business owners regarding cloud. Benefits need to be explained, and trust built up – it’s a  process, but once the ‘cure’ has been fully explained, adoption is very rapid. Locally, we will catch up with the European and North American adoption rates,” he says.

Out of the blue

Given the rise in uptake from 2009 (36%) to 2010 (51%), according to the Cloud Adoption Survey, the  cure being offered by cloud is an appealing one. “With cloud, compute facilities are made available to  end-users anywhere, anytime, and through the maximisation of the assets of the company – either your  own, or the company your business is interacting with,” says , business development  manager at EMC.

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The business case is a strong one, and the explosion has been fuelled, in part, by the economic  uncertainty brought about by the recent recession. “Cloud came at an opportune moment – as business  was shying from capex and opex spend, cloud maturation and proliferation provided solutions to issues presented by the economic downturn,” says Montjoie. With cloud, he says, business can see where the  money is going, and can implement change rapidly. Financial managers and CFOs are seeing spend  move in parallel with business growth or decline.

“Before cloud, a user would be attached to a specific application at a specific time, and the server  behind the program or solution set would be dedicated to that application. Additionally, procurement would have to take into consideration the maximum demand – but normal use would be a small  percentage of ‘surge’ levels. It was therefore expected to be functioning at 15%-22% capacity on average, with spend covering worst-case demand.

Real cloud solutions hit the 75% mark. Cloud negates the need for overspend for the ‘in case of’  scenarios,” says Jordaan.

Additionally, in the always-on environment we live and work in, we need access to data and applications 24/7, says Lizelle Christison, manager of the upcoming IP Expo. “Cloud computing provides this, even if your workers are on the move.” Montjoie agrees: “We are starting to see a lot of corporate users  becoming more mobile using intelligent technology.

Those devices lend themselves to cloud services. Corporations must embrace the shift to these  devices, and leverage them to increase productivity by enabling IT services as cloud services, and allow  devices to communicate with core applications.”

“It is great to see that cloud computing has now been embraced by the majority of organisations,” says , CEO and co-founder of Mimecast. “… [It] is hugely encouraging for the industry and a clear  indication in order to get better value for money, increased reliability and greater control of their data.”

Trust and standardisation

While many potential users still holding back from entry into cloud computing cite trust and risks  as their main concerns, Jordaan is adamant that maturity has been reached. Additionally, the beauty of  cloud, says Montjoie, is commitment is minimal.

“It is on-demand, elastic, and reversible – you can get out easily.” While providers admit to there being  risk, most maintain it is minimal, and less than the levels of risk most corporations are used to  managing. “There is a required shift in mindset,” says Montjoie, “but service providers can provide a  massive level of comfort by wrapping offerings in service level agreements and adhering to sound governance of the cloud platform. The move to cloud computing should not be undertaken in a ‘big bang’  approach, but rather in a gradual journey. This will allow trust to be built slowly, and for business to  gain maximum return from investments sunk into assets such as server farms, software and licensing.”

“The technology is still developing and improving, as technology always does,” says Christison. As such,  organisations seeking best practice standards need to adopt a fairly flexible attitude. “There have  been a number of developments globally around creating standards, but these are still in their very  early stages. These include the Open Cloud Consortium, the Open Cloud Computing Interface  Working Group, the Open Grid Forum and a Study Group on Cloud Computing.

“The critical thing in developing standards will be for the industry to work together. While there is a  tremendous amount of among vendors to own the cloud computing space, there will have to  be some level of collaboration for the sake of the customer,” she says.