Six out of 10 U.S. companies already have at least one application in the cloud, and 71 percent expect to increase spending on cloud services in the next 12 months, according to a recent IDG Enterprise survey of 554 IT professionals, including 357 heads of IT.
Most respondents (64 percent) agreed with the statement that cloud computing will mean higher costs in the short term, but will save money in the long term.
Barr Snyderwine, CIO of Hargrove, an events management company, says using the public cloud is his way of keeping costs down. The company is using an online collaboration tool for document sharing because "it's so cheap I can't say no," he says. "We are probably saving money in the long run on the [business] continuity side."
In fact, 84 percent of the survey respondents cited business continuity as the top business driver for their cloud investments. Snyderwine says he is also looking to put Microsoft's Exchange in the cloud as part of his continuity plan. "The comfort of having completely redundant servers is very, very attractive," he says.
In the survey, respondents said other top business reasons for moving IT to cloud services include speed of deployment, gaining the flexibility to react to market conditions, and improving customer support.
Tim Walter, CIO of CrossCom National, a retail systems provider, has a different reason: He's moving company data into a private cloud in hopes of achieving greater data consistency and integration. "You can get systems in the same cloud to talk [to each other]," Walter says.
But putting data in the cloud also carries risks: 70 percent of the respondents said security concerns are the top barrier to their adoption of cloud computing.
Walter says one challenge is having data from different types of customers in the cloud, because each customer has different security needs. "We look at who requires the tightest [security] levels and try to work everyone else toward [those]," he says.
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