Friday, April 20, 2012

State of the Cloud - Snapshot Survey

Independent analysts and consultants are hard to come by here in Canada, but long-time colleague Henry Dortmans is one of the best. He's from the technology consulting world, and has a deep reach into both the end user/IT community as well as the consultants and vendors on the solutions side.

Like me, he's got an endless curiousity about the bigger picture, and occasionally puts together a survey to take the temperature of the market on current trends. He just did one on the cloud, and I wanted to share the key takeaways with you here.

The survey audience was a mix of IT consultants, vendors and end users (mostly end users). He polled about 400 in total, and got a very respectable 25% response rate, so there's a credible basis for the findings.

He asked 3 simple questions:

1. Has the industry done a good job explaining cloud?
2. How difficult do you think it will be to implement cloud services in the coming year?
3. Is this an area where you think independent advice can help buyers?

Question 1 - explaining the cloud...

For this one, consultants and end users felt roughly the same - about half for each said NO. Suppliers feel a bit differently - only 25% said NO, and the rest said either YES or PARTLY. It's not a huge sample, but interesting to note that the vendors see this as less of problem than everyone else. Depending how you see things, perhaps this may be part of the problem - ?

Question 2 - difficulty implementing cloud

End users were definitely more apprehensive than either consultants or vendors - 45% said the difficultly level would be HIGH. For the other two communities, only 15% felt that way - and 25% of vendors felt it would be LOW. Again, there seems to be a disconnect between buyers and sellers, but we've heard that before.

Question 3 - can independent advice help buyers?

You'd think this would be a no-brainer, but hey, that's why we do research! Well, consultants sure thought this would be a great idea - 90% said YES - no surprise, right? Vendors were onside, just not as strongly - 60% said YES. However, the buyers - for whom this question was targeted - were the least supportive - only 30% said YES, and 60% said MAYBE. I was hoping the comments from respondents would explain their logic, but there weren't too many clues.

Sure makes you wonder, though. The sample isn't big enough to be conclusive, but it's too small to ignore, so I do think there's some credence to the basic findings. Regarding what buyers are saying, I'm thinking they're not sold on the idea of independent advice simply because they don't trust it. If so, there's a basic credibility issue that the consultants and vendors will have to overcome, especially since the cloud is so touchy-feely. For buyers used to dealing in hardware and physical network equipment, the cloud is all in their head - it's just so ethereal.

Another factor, of course, is the cost-benefit analysis. That independent advice won't be free, and cloud economics doesn't have much of a track record in our space. So, it's not hard to see how this added cost just might wipe out any ROI or TCO advantage that cloud could bring.

To wrap up, I've passed on most of the data highlights, but Henry's summary includes respondent comments for each community. The market researcher in me finds these the most interesting parts of the study, and if this is catching your interest, you'll feel the same. Henry will be happy to share this, so just drop him a line - - and tell him I sent ya.

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