Surveying the cloud

Cloud computing. Do we have to go there again? Isn’t it already common knowledge that the traditional data center is an endangered species? Don’t most business executives have their fingers hovering over the cloud computing button? Aren’t CIOs joining the cloud computing party now that the hype and confusion over co-mingled public and private cloud computing is starting to dissipate and they can engage by moving to private clouds? For all the hype about cloud computing, there is very little survey data on the extent enterprises are planning for and adopting cloud computing as a replacement for traditional data center infrastructure technologies and management processes.
And then there are the traditional IT outsourcing (ITO) service providers sitting in the cross hairs of this trend, who are about to see their business models and customer value propositions disrupted. Service providers in the ITO space have, after all, profited handsomely by taking on their customers’ highly complex, one-off collections of IT assets and finding ways to manage them more efficiently than their customers can. But the essence of cloud computing is a move towards highly standardized racks of commodity servers and a software environment that together make for a highly efficient use of resources. Where’s the ITO opportunity in that?

Cloud computing, when done right, has the potential to actually replace, and not just augment, legacy environments while adding value by reducing costs and increasing agility.
Do enterprises see it that way? Are they making plans? Who do they take advice from? What business advantages are they anticipating?
FORFIRM has surveyed many business executives to find answers to these and other questions about the state of data center infrastructure management. Individual interviews with vendors offering traditional ITO and new cloud-based offerings, including infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), complemented the survey. We sought to understand the real state of data center management today, how fast business executives expect to move to cloud infrastructures in the future and who they will turn to—traditional ITO providers, new cloud-oriented providers or internal staff— to make the shift. Finally, what is the bigger goal, a shift to public cloud offerings or a transition to private clouds? This series of articles and graphics examines and interprets these trends.

Project methodology

In 2011 Bloomberg Businessweek Research Services  has conducted a global survey of its readers’ views and practices concerning certain information technology (IT) services, specifically outsourcing and cloud computing.
Three waves of email surveys to select members of the Bloomberg Businessweek Market Advisory Board and other lists of business leaders were conducted in April, May and June. The survey panel was restricted to senior executives and middle managers who were involved in IT outsourcing and cloud computing, including management, vendor selection or needs assessment.
The demographic data of the 489 qualified respondents is as follows:


The respondent sample was divided into two groups of roughly equal size—those that use a third party to run their traditional data center (labeled IT outsourcers) and those that internally managed their data centers.
The statistical significance of the data points posted in these articles, expressed as the margin of error, is typically a bit more than four percentage points for the overall respondent group. The margin of error for the IT outsourcing or non-IT outsourcing subgroups is about six percentage points.

Here are some other characteristics of the survey population:


In addition to analyzing the data, FORFIRM engaged researchers from Triangle Publishing Services Co. Inc. to interview leading executives of the IT outsourcing industry, as well as providers of infrastructure-as-a-service about the data and to offer their perspective