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October 02, 2012

Large Enterprises Vote 'No' on Cloud: Find Out Why a Recount is Needed at ITEXPO Austin 2012

By Peter Bernstein, Senior Editor

It started a few weeks ago. I was at a vendor event and was having a spirit lifting beverage with some CIOs from some rather impressive companies. To make idle chatter, I asked the group to give me a definition of “cloud” and “cloud computing.” While nothing more than an anecdotal sample, the table was unanimous. As one of the luminaries at the table put it, “Cloud is a dirty word in my company!” This drew an ‘amen’ from everyone else.

It was not the first time I had heard this sentiment. In fact, I have seen it on the Internet in several articles in the last few days. It was, however, the first time it was so heart-felt and that I heard it in person.

I asked the obvious question, why?

The answers varied. They included previous bad experiences with hosted service providers, trouble regarding accountability with vendor ecosystems when problems arose, security concerns, and feelings that cloud-based solutions were not a solution to increased compliance and corporate governance issues. Interestingly, it also had to do with internal cultural issues. The cloud is seen as the gateway to “big data,” and big data at the moment, in many minds, appears to mean “big brother.” 

In short, it appears this is about ownership and control issues. Lines of business (LOB) do not wish to share information – i.e., give up its ownership and control for fear it will undermine their power positions within large enterprises.

In addition, IT departments appear to be wary of crossing a line where putting mission critical assets in the hands of others may be career limiting since at the end of the day it is their throat that is going to be chocked. Others may have responsibility but IT has accountability not just for the smooth functioning of “E”verything when things are going well but even more so when it comes to the big risk management challenges of disaster recovery and business continuity.

As one CIO noted, “Cloud is great for SMBs and for companies with immediate issues of moving CapEx to OpEx, but that is not my challenge.”

I was ready to concede that maybe my new friends were representative of an over-riding trend. I could not believe what I was hearing. It seemed like a reality check was in order. What I have found in looking at numerous research studies and projections is that while CIOs may be skeptical of the cloud, the market numbers seem to indicate that despite their reticence, other C-levels are increasingly driving the technology bus and they’re very interested in the cloud. No, we’re not looking at a tsunami of adoption; we are looking at a steady and possible immutable trend in favor of large enterprise moving more and more to the cloud. 

The industry is growing, the case studies are impressive, virtualization continues to accelerate, data is exploding and it needs a place to go to be accessible and a lot of those obstacles cited above have readily available solutions that some very important customers already trust.

Image via Shutterstock

I mention all of this because I am currently at ITEXPO Austin 2012 on the eve of the show. In the next three days, I’m going to be moderating five panels on virtually every aspect of the cloud — from big data to compliance to UC and “E”verything in between. If you happen to be in Austin, or can make it here, you might wish to drop buy. I think the drum beat of negativity on the cloud by large enterprises is not as widespread as the megaphone we call the Internet likes to state.

I know first-hand that of all of the “problems” above, the only one which is not currently solvable, indeed likely an improvement over current practices, is the one of getting past the internal cultural ones.

I intend to bring this subject up every chance I get. I’m sure it will also be grist for the mill in the numerous other sessions that will be conducted at ITEXPO (News - Alert) and our colocated events, Cloud4SMB Expo and Cloud Communications Expo. It is possible that we have reached the level of the infamous Gatner hype cycle where new technology invariably over promises and under delivers. I think not. I also think that it is time for a recount. Cloud is not a dirty word in general and it would be unfortunate if it adoption is slowed because of industry buzz. 

If you can join me here in Austin, let me know what you think.

Want to learn more about cloud communications? Then be sure to attend Cloud Communications Expo, collocated with ITEXPO Austin 2012 happening now in Austin, TX. Stay in touch with everything happening at Cloud Communications Expo. Follow us on Twitter.

Edited by Braden Becker
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