The increasingly integral role of cloud computing in IT operations is accompanied by significant change and disruption for cloud users, their IT staffs and their technology providers, new research released today by CompTIA, the leading non-profit association for the information technology (IT) industry, reveals.
CompTIA’s Third Annual Trends in Cloud Computing study indicates that the market for cloud solutions is robust, with the number of organizations using cloud resources rising for the third straight year. More than eight in 10 companies currently use some form of cloud solution; and more than half plan to increase cloud investments by 10 percent or more in 2012.
The investments firms are planning is based on positive sentiments – 85 percent of survey respondents feel more positive about cloud computing than they did last year, compared to 72 percent in 2011.This popularity is driving both IT and business staff to experiment with cloud options and to re-examine the role and functions of IT.
“This may entail changes to policies and procedures, restructuring of IT departments and use of outside companies,” said Seth Robinson, director, technology analysis, CompTIA.
Policy and procedure changes may be internal to an IT department or broad, corporate-wide changes. For example, as more lines of business attempt to procure and maintain their own cloud solutions, policies regarding security, use of company data and mobile devices need to be addressed.
“Internal IT departments also are on the edge of major transformation,” Robinson noted. “The option for cloud solutions for various parts of the computing stack is opening the doors for IT professionals to perform new tasks, or at least perform old tasks in new ways. It’s also creating new job roles and functions to more tightly integrate IT teams with lines of business.”
Though just one in five companies currently contract with an outside firm for cloud transitions, this may change, especially as micro and small businesses explore more complex uses of cloud. These firms have used outside companies less than medium and large businesses, but they will have a need for more expertise as their cloud usage increases.
The CompTIA study also shows that IT channel companies are poised to step up their involvement with the cloud. In fact, the number one catalyst channel firms cite as driving their entrance into cloud solutions is to provide their customers with access to new opportunities and capabilities not previously available to them.
“This is one of the truly disruptive aspects of the cloud model,” said Carolyn April, director, industry analysis, CompTIA.
“Advanced software for analytics, unified communications, enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management and other sophisticated technology solutions were often out of the price range or skill set of many businesses,” April continued. “With cloud-based solutions and delivery and either set monthly pricing or a pay-as-you-go model, these technologies come within the financial reach of even the smallest of small businesses.”
For channel firms, this reality provides a major selling point. Three-quarters of the largest channel firms cite expanding customer opportunity as a major driver behind adopting cloud.
Technology vendors also are having an influence on their channel partners. More than half of larger channel firms say that vendor demand for them to add cloud to their business portfolio was a motivating factor.
“But channel companies cannot be content to simply resell a vendor’s cloud wares,” April said. “It’s imperative that they build consultative practices that offer services such as integration, architectural assessments, monitoring and management.”
Over the next 12 months, 42 percent of channel firms expect the cloud portion of their business to grow significantly – by 15 percent or more. In 2011, 24 percent of companies expected that level of growth. The study also finds that nearly half of channel firms report either being at their targeted profitability with their cloud business today, or expect to be there in six months or less.
CompTIA’s Third Annual Trends in Cloud Computing study is based on separate online surveys of 500 IT and business professionals in the United States involved in IT decision making; and 400 IT firms. Both surveys were conducted in April 2012.