Is it time for the cloud?

Speaking at the Evolve.Cloud conference in Sydney, Vice President and Principal Analyst APAC at Forrester Research Group, Michael Barnes, explained how even if the cloud wasn't part of a company's IT, it will be in the near future, adding that the market is undergoing "unprecedented change" and companies will need to adapt.

Primarily the drive for this is the volume of cloud services, and the move from a service-oriented business model to pay-as-you-go. And, while saying that cloud isn't necessarily the whole the answer, it's certainly going to be a part of it he said.

In fact, Barnes thinks this is one of the biggest challenges facing IT today—but many business aren't currently prepared. According to Forrester's statistics, in Australia 36 per cent of surveyed companies used cloud services while 38 per cent didn't, and had no immediate plans to do so. Part of the problem Barnes stated is that the growth of IT budgets isn't as fast as the evolution of technology, but there are also other concerns holding companies back.

One of the issues that has received a lot of coverage is just how secure the data is when it's stored elsewhere, particularly in other countries where local government jurisdiction may be a threat to intellectual property stored in the cloud. Calling this the issue of "data privacy and residency", where there is a concern over when, how and by whom cloud data can be accessed, is one of the biggest fears holding back cloud adoption.

But according to Barnes, this is a red herring—while laws such as the US Patriot Act give unprecedented powers to government to gain access to corporate data, and so any cloud services based in the States would be a risk for Australian businesses, he noted that Australia's own anti-terrorism laws provide similar powers to our government. It doesn't help that Mark McWilliams, head of investments for Datacom, later stated in a panel discussion that "moving to the cloud, you will be vulnerable", pointing out that there is no such thing as total security and cloud services have their own vulnerabilities.

However, it was also noted that with cloud service providers building their business and reputation around cloud services, in some cases data stored in the cloud may be more secure than a company's own IT infrastructure.

Barnes ended his talk saying that the cloud is here and only going to grow, so business and IT can't continue to ignore it. The role of IT will change from service providers to service management, and will embrace the economics of the cloud—moving to pay-as-you-go services, for example.

And if IT wants to retain control it needs to do it better and faster than external providers, as inevitably cloud services will be competition for the IT budget if not already for many companies.

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