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The cloud services market remains relatively immature but is forecast to grow significantly within the next five years in terms of both subscriber numbers and value. Enterprise IT departments have, to date, moved a limited number of specific applications, most commonly web applications (40%), office suites (25%), and CRM/ERP applications (23%) offered under a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model, out of their own data centres and server farms and into external cloud hosted environments.
But persistent concerns around the security (80%), reliability (37%), performance (28%) and management (20%) of cloud services means that the majority of physical and virtualised workloads (81%) remain anchored within on-premises infrastructure. Cloud-based security, backup and disaster recovery applications remain relatively underused by enterprise IT departments, for example, as do Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) platforms offering basic storage and CPU batch processing.
Widely reported, high profile outages which have adversely affected Amazon Web Services and Google in recent years have inevitably served to heighten enterprise mistrust of the cloud’s ability to provide the secure, robust application and service delivery that companies require. Yet the specific failure of public cloud services to isolate customer workloads and guarantee uptime do not tell the whole story: widely available alternative private and hybrid cloud delivery models based on dedicated, single-tenanted or like-minded enterprise-tenanted architecture hosted either off- or onpremises and connected by secure network links, can address lingering anxieties. In some cases, cloud service providers can demonstrate that they offer better physical security, data protection and failover capabilities than on-premises Enterprises Seeking Cloud Service Assurance environments for example, whilst outsourcing responsibility for security to a third party can alleviate much, if not all, of the management burden associated with the constant requirement to configure and apply security patches and updates to the IT estate.
Many IT managers also worry that they will struggle to migrate and retrieve data quickly in line with national and European data protection regulations (37%), fears that can be addressed by hybrid cloud models that store important information on-premises and precise service level agreements which guarantee off-premises hosting arrangements comply with relevant laws.
Ultimately, it is the flexibility of the cloud services model which is a key attraction for many IT managers looking to spend less time on more routine operational tasks in order to place greater focus on improving overall business efficiency. Switching services into an on-demand, pay as you go model can improve server and storage utilisation, and depending on initial migration and set-up fees, offer better value for money than on-premises hardware provision in the long run.
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