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Mind the gap: vision and skills hold back strategic cloud deployment

(24 2014)

Differences of opinion emerge within enterprises on strategic value of cloud to solve business challenges

A new gap is opening up between the opinions of European ICT budget holders and implementers on the strategic role that cloud can play in solving their organisations’ challenges, according to new research sponsored by BT and Cisco. The research, conducted by leading analyst Ovum and based on a study of more than 1,000 European organisations, found that eight out of ten ICT budget holders believe cloud computing will play a critical role in solving their organisation’s business challenges, versus less than half of implementers.

Although traditional technology champions within enterprises are being cautious, this is not due to bad experience; nine out of ten European enterprise cloud users have benefited from their investment in cloud computing. But the research finds that the majority of enterprises are playing it safe, preferring tactical quick wins over cloud-led business transformation projects. The main reason identified by the research is that enterprises don’t have the internal skills to risk more strategic deployments and need convincing that external cloud service providers can deliver on their promises. Compliance and security are high on the list of concerns too.

The tactical, piecemeal approach to cloud could be creating a vicious circle; almost half of European enterprises plan to have a hybrid cloud environment within two years. Although enterprises recognise that hybrid cloud delivers key benefits, many organisations need to upskill or adapt the mix of skills within their IT department to help achieve them.

Private clouds dominate existing deployments but the research found that enterprises favour hybrid cloud combinations that suit different business processes and workloads. These configurations deliver benefits but demand specialist skills covering the selection, configuration and orchestration of workloads across hybrid environments.

The research suggests that this complexity is helping change European enterprises’ priorities when choosing a cloud supplier. Networked IT service providers and system integrators are emerging as the preferred partners to design, implement and manage private cloud environments. Typically this is where enterprises would place their most sensitive and mission critical corporate assets when migrating to the cloud.

“Cloud is no place for amateurs: hybrid cloud environments demand a complex range of skills that few suppliers possess, let alone enterprises,” said Camille Mendler of Ovum, who authored the report. “Mastery over application, compute and network — in conjunction, not in isolation — is the core requirement to take cloud computing beyond today’s successful, but tactical usage.”

Neil Lock, vice president, BT Compute, BT Global Services, said: “With the arrival of cloud, IT has been transformed almost beyond recognition. We are all too aware, however, that one size does not fit all. Our customers are telling us they want hybrid cloud environments, but at the same time they also want to minimize complexity. We believe this can be achieved with providers that can seamlessly integrate between private and public cloud environments without prejudice and can underpin this with strong consulting skills to help customers deploy configurations that best meet their requirements.”

Andy Chew, managing director, Architectures, Cisco UK & Ireland, said: “As the research highlights, the benefits of cloud are clear to business users, but what is now emerging is the realisation that to be truly strategic, hybrid approaches that focus on addressing business needs rather than technology limitations are crucial. To fully benefit from the scalability and agility that cloud offers, the presence of a network of clouds, such as what is being created by the industry through the Intercloud, becomes crucial to success.”

About the research

The research, Realising possibilities in the cloud: The need for a trusted broker, draws on a custom study of the cloud experiences and plans of more than 1,000 organisations in the UK, Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Belgium and The Netherlands. The study was conducted by Ovum during the third quarter of 2014. Encompassing public and private sector firms in health, education, central and local government, financial services, retail and manufacturing, it probed workload usage, investment plans and service provider performance expectations. The research can be downloaded at: http://www.bt.com/btcompute.

For further information

Enquiries should be made to the BT Group Newsroom on its 24-hour number: 020 7356 5369. From outside the UK dial + 44 20 7356 5369.

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