Cloud computing adoption is following a different path from what has been observed in the past. The adoption pattern, that is the organizations taking up this approach are doing so in a different order than the past and for different reasons. This strange adoption cycle has driven the comments we see in the media and how IT executives are responding.
Past technology adoption
In the past, technology was often adopted by organizations in the following order:
- Academic and research laboratories — these organizations often have the expertise to take technology, however raw, and put it to work. The value of the results of their IT solutions is so high that it seems reasonable to work with something with little documentation or technical support.
- Large enterprises, often lead by financial services, take up the technology next. This can be attributed to the fact that these organizations either have or hire staff that can take up technology even though it is not completely proven or commercially packaged. The value of the results may reduce time for a positive return on investment to a quarter or two. If the adoption project fails, the IT resources (systems, data center space, storage, networking devices and staff) can quickly be reassigned and put to work elsewhere.
- Medium size enterprises are next in line. These organizations often hire staff expertise from larger enterprises and academic institutions. These new staff members suggest new approaches and technology as a way to prove their value to the organization. National governments may also adopt the technology at this point.
- Small organizations as well as regional and local government organizations are next. They typically wait until an approach or technology is well proven and commercial support is available from a number of sources.
In the past, adoption was driven by the need to make systems solve new problems or solve problems in a new, better way. The available expertise was often one of the factors that slowed the adoption cycle. The opportunity for additional revenues or the reduction in solution time was often seen as more important than initial cost reduction.
Cloud computing adoption breaks with the past
Cloud computing is following a new path and this often confuses journalists, analysts and IT executives.
Cloud computing is being adopted by organizations in the following order:
- Small organizations as well as regional and local government organizations have rushed to adopt cloud computing because they are facing severe financial issues and simply don’t want to invest in data centers, real estate, computer systems, software, IT staff and the like as heavily as in the past. Although concerns exist about security, performance, compliance with regulations, management and many other categories, these organizations see cloud use as a survival factor. When asked, decision-makers will point out that they need to survive first and will sort out the mess later.
- Academic and research laboratories — these organizations have great need for technical or high performance computing and simply don’t have the funding to purchase systems, software, networking and storage equipment. The ability to rapidly deploy hundreds or, perhaps, thousands of virtual systems as they are needed and decommission them when their task is completed. These organizations are less interested in security, reliability or manageability. They are more interested in agility and raw overall performance.
- Medium size enterprises are next in line. These organizations have been a better financial position than smaller organizations. After learning of successful use of cloud computing made by other, smaller organizations, medium organizations are piloting the use of Software as a Service offerings for collaborative applications or customer relationship management. Later, these organizations are expected to outsource some business critical workloads and execute them in a service provider’s data center.
- Large enterprises, often are waiting until security, management, reliability and performance issues are sorted out by earlier adopters rather than charging in first as seen in the past. These organizations are very concerned by compliance issues as well. Until they believe that they can successfully survive an outside audit using cloud resources, they are likely to simply wait.
At first, cloud computing adoption was driven by cost reduction and basic organizational survival concerns. Later adoption builds upon cost concerns by adding the need for flexibility and agility.
Riding the new wave of adoption
The adoption cycle for various forms of cloud computing is still in the early stages. As news of cloud computing successes and failures emerge, it is very likely that more organizations will adopt this approach for the appropriate tasks and workloads.
Successful implementations will take the following issues into consideration:
- It is important that tools understand today’s complex environment and work fast enough to deal with an ever-changing computing environment that is not totally under the control of the organization’s own IT team.
- Will the service provider commit to a service level agreement?
- Does the service provider offer support 24 by 7 worldwide?
- Are tools available that will gather and analyze operational data and allow a predictive “windshield” view rather than a rearview mirror view?
Image thanks to Fabio Gismondi