Is Cloud Adoption Living Up to the Hype?

Is cloud adoption living up to the hype? A great deal has been written about the extent to which different vendors have been hyping their services and solutions. However, has the true adoption rate from businesses and corporations really lived up to this hype?

I recently read an article by Eoin Jennings about how corporate staff and everyday users are the ones who are really pushing and driving cloud adoption. For the most part, I agree with the points in the article. I have since taken the time to evaluate what I have seen at the different companies I have had the pleasure of working with. At least in the public space, it is unclear whether the adoption rate is commensurate with the level of publicity on the subject.

I have observed that the companies I have been involved with have been working hard as well as spending the necessary capital to expand their internal cloud presence. I have been seeing such efforts with increasing frequency. In the spirit of  full disclosure, among these companies I have not seen any motivation to deploy a hybrid environment. I understand the benefits that can be achieved with a hybrid approach, and so do the decision makers with whom I’ve spoken, their number one concern being security and control over data.

According to Jennings, “A private or hybrid cloud solution places the ball in your court and removes risk: you carry out an applications audit and select the applications you want to migrate; you identify which applications are the most critical; and you provide secure access, pairing staff with the applications they need to fulfill their roles.”

While in theory I would agree, I believe that these basic points sound good until you start the due diligence necessary to plan a migration—and you realize that there is far more to consider and plan for when working with the larger companies.

There seems to be an idea that the employees and the devices that they use every day are what  really drive IT strategy with regard to consumer cloud storage. This point is backed up by the impressive number of users some of the main cloud storage providers are reporting. “Dropbox now has 175 million users—up from 5 million in 2010,” says Jennings. “Apple’s iCloud has an eye-watering 300 million users, and Microsoft’s SkyDrive has 200 million users. GoogleDrive’s figures are harder to come by, but are likely to be in the hundreds of millions.” If you stop to consider the other cloud storage providers in that picture, you could easily be looking at over a billion users. However, I am not sure I agree with the idea that corporations are just going to allow employee access to these services on company resources if they can avoid it. Nevertheless, there is no denying that most companies are going to have to accept the fact that their employees are using these services, and should plan accordingly.

What exactly does “plan accordingly” mean when it comes to corporate devices and bring-your-own devices? In at least one company, the plan regarding personal devices was to have a corporate application that would disable unapproved services and applications as well as gain access if the IT team needed to install and set up the software. On the other side of the coin, I see companies spending most of their time and effort controlling and securing access with a mix of VPN and certificates.

For my closing thought, I am not sure which side of the fence I am on with regard to corporate acceptance, corporate control, or a hybrid approach, but I find myself leaning in the direction of corporate control and segregation for personal and business life. I believe the size of the company will be one of the biggest factors. I also have to wonder just how much the revelations about the privacy of public data are to blame for the flat-line level of market penetration. Could this be one of the biggest concerns going through a CIO’s mind when he or she considers how and if to leverage the public cloud verses growing the services internally? Only time will tell how this will play out, but in the meantime, at least lately, I have to wonder—is the adoption level living up to the hype?

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