Cloud computing just isn’t as scary as it once was to companies and their CIOs. A new survey of 785 companies finds a meager 3% considering it to be too risky — down from 11% last year. Only 12% say the cloud platform is too immature, and that’s down from 26% a year ago. Furthermore, 50% of the survey respondents now say they have “complete confidence” in the cloud — up from 13% a year ago.
These are the findings of a new survey  conducted by North Bridge Venture Partners . The survey had a lot of industry support behind it, sponsored by 39 companies, including Amazon Web Services, Rackspace, Eucalyptus, and Glasshouse.
The bottom line is cloud is now just considered the normal way to implement software solutions.
So, is a survey underwritten by 39 cloud companies likely to say anything but good stuff about cloud? There still concerns that came up in the data. Security remains the primary inhibitor to adoption in the burgeoning cloud marketplace with 55% of respondents identifying it as a concern. The implications of regulatory compliance (38%) also loom large, as do concerns about vendor lock-in (32%). Interestingly, pricing and expenses are way at bottom of the deal-breaker list.
Interestingly, somewhat fewer respondents this year than last feel that cloud helps lower total cost of ownership of systems and applications — dropping from 57% to 53%. There may be greater scrutiny of the long-term cumulative costs incurred from monthly rentals of applications, which sometimes don’t compare favorably to buying and maintaining systems on-premises. Plus, trying to lower TCO is the wrong reason to move to cloud. Just as important are other gains that can be achieved through cloud, including achieving heightened analytic processing of big data, greater agility, more flexibility, faster time to market, better customer service and improved business process improvement, not to mention IT-focused goals such as more seamless integration, enhanced scalability, more iron-clad security and greater availability.
One of the findings that pops out is the growing embrace of cloud-focused solutions for big data and analytics. With an increase in trust of the cloud, big data is emerging as a major focus for vendors and end-users alike. In fact, 80% of respondents identify big data as the most likely sector to be disrupted by cloud computing. Vendors also identify analytics and big data as the first and second-most important cloud service to provide, respectively.
As mentioned in my previous post  here at Forbes, analytics — particularly predictive analytics — may be the perfect use case for cloud, as these tend to be compute-hungry applications. Organizations may not have to invest in more on-site servers and storage racks if pay-per-usage cloud services can accomplish the same thing.
Overall, as mentioned above, cloud is simply becoming the way we do things. Eighty-four percent of all net new software will be SaaS-based. Companies have stepped up spending on Software as a Service-delivered applications at a rate six times that of software purchase overall. In addition, a majority of respondents agree that most mission-critical software categories are being or will soon be disrupted: CRM, e-commerce, business intelligence, mobile, office productivity tools, application development, and even ERP systems are bound for online delivery.
Scalability remains the top reason for adopting the cloud, with 57% of companies identifying it as the most important driver for cloud adoption. Business agility ranked second among drivers for cloud adoption, cited by 54%.
This survey is further proof that “cloud” may even soon begin to fade as a differentiating term — because it will just be the way we do things. We’re now getting to the point where cloud is being simply accepted as the delivery platform for applications and services. Cloud will keep on coming on stronger than ever before, but, ironically, it may also soon begin to seem more ho-hum and routine than a grand paradigm shift. Expect to see vendors this year begin to recognize this ho-hum factor and move on to new buzzwords.
July 3, 2012