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How big is cloud's impact? Depends on who's asking

Brandon Butler | April 29, 2013
Is cloud computing really catching on in the enterprise? Well, that depends on who you talk to, recent surveys have found.

Is cloud computing really catching on in the enterprise? Well, that depends on who you talk to, recent surveys have found.

RightScale, a company that acts a broker between end users and public cloud service providers, released the most recent results of its annual State of the Cloud report and found that about 75% of respondents surveyed were using the cloud in some capacity.

CEO Michael Crandell says his company's evidence shows the users are becoming more comfortable using the cloud. About a year and a half ago pundits spoke about the technology being in an adolescent stage, he says: "We're getting to see what the cloud looks like when it grows up now and becomes a young adult."

[ CLOUD NEWS: Pivotal puts PaaS in the spotlight ]

But 70% of organizations using the cloud seems like a lot to some people, such as Forrester Research cloud guru James Staten. A Forrester developers survey found quite different results from RightScale, in fact just about the opposite: 70% of developers surveyed had not used cloud computing in an official capacity at their business.

What gives with the difference? The devil's in the details, and for one, it depends on who you talk to. The RightScale survey of more than 600 IT workers came from a community to people that had somehow, some way interacted with RightSacle in the past -- they had registered on the company's website, dropped a business card in a bowl at a trade show, or are a customer (although RightScale says only 30% of respondents were customers). The firm's VP of Marketing Kim Weins says respondents to RightScale's survey admittedly have some "affinity" to cloud computing.

Forrester, on the other hand, surveyed developers, not necessarily just those who would be more likely in the cloud, and the results differed significantly.

So then, where are we really in the cloud adoption cycle? Staten, the Forrester analyst, says it's still early days. The cloud is growing up and businesses are becoming more comfortable using it, even if it is limited use cases for most businesses. "The technologies are maturing faster than the customer base which means we should expect to see an acceleration in developer use of cloud in the next five years," Staten says, adding that vendors licking their chops about a huge uptake in cloud usage shouldn't expect a "hockey stick" curve of adoption, though. "Enterprises move way slower than any of us would like."

Virtustream, another provider of both public and private platforms for building clouds, did its own survey with research firm Neovise and found results closer to Forrester's than RightScale's. Of 822 IT professionals Neovise surveyed, 37% were found to use public cloud infrastructure as a service (IaaS).


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