IDG Enterprise released its Cloud Computing Research results at the end of last year, and I finally had the opportunity to review it recently. I just wish I had looked at it earlier. The research is based on a survey of approximately 1,500 IT and business professionals, with good representation of senior IT management and large companies. There is a lot of great data in the research, if you market cloud computing services, it is worth downloading and spending a few minutes with the slides.
Beyond the data points, I saw four key themes. Each is an opportunity for marketers to differentiate their offerings or position in the cloud marketplace.
IT Expects Control
For CIOs, the top concerns are security (two-thirds), followed by access, governance, and meeting standards. And IT is a key stakeholder in cloud decisions at larger companies (more than 80% of the time). In contrast, concerns about business and employee receptiveness is cited by less than 15% of respondents.
IT’s needs must be met. Cloud marketers need to address this head on, showing IT management how they maintain control over services delivered via the cloud, from security, governance and service delivery perspectives. IT is on the line for delivering the service within their organization. They have both an obligation and a sense of duty. Cloud providers must give them confidence they will help, not hinder, their ability to deliver.
Cloud Drives New Requirements
While cloud based services reduce the direct control IT groups have, they also put new requirements on IT groups. Only one-third are confident in their network infrastructures readiness for cloud computing, and 62% indicate networking needs to rapidly expand its skill set to handle cloud computing.
Cloud providers should help companies understand the internal infrastructure demands and skill sets required. Telecom companies like Verizon, AT&T and Qwest are positioned to address infrastructure concerns. Although telecoms are busy marketing their own cloud offerings, will we also see them offer services optimized for providers like Amazon or Google? This could be an interesting play for the traditional telecoms providers.
Cloud Services Vendors Need to Improve
Frustration runs high in the category, with pricing models (56%) and contract structures (49%) near the top of the list of things needing improvement. Notably, these concerns are not about the price itself, but about the structure of the relationship. IT needs to be able to forecast and manage costs. Usage based pricing is a new challenge.
Cloud offerings also are not seen as mature. Only 15% say existing cloud services offer excellent scalability. This should be one of the key benefits of cloud computing! Industry experience, security, integration and pricing are all rated poor by 19% to 23% of respondents, and are rated excellent by only 6% to 9%.
There is a clear opportunity for companies with robust enterprise-ready cloud offerings to step up and prove it. There is still too much fluff in cloud marketing, and it is not standing up to the scrutiny of enterprise IT buyers.
Claim Thought Leadership
Although marketers have flooded the cloud category with content, thought leadership remains an open opportunity. One third of respondents didn’t name a single thought leader in the space, and nearly a third named small firms that did not receive more than a couple handfuls of mentions. Given the unique requirements and changes being driven by cloud computing, being a thought leader is particularly valuable position in this market.
Despite the challenges, the opportunity for cloud service providers is huge, and the research supports the opportunity. Cloud computing investments represented 18% of the average IT budget, and investments are only broadly increasing.
This is just a thin slice of the information that was included in the report. If you market any cloud computing services, take a few minutes to download and review the research.