The world is moving to the cloud.
By all accounts, cloud computing adoption is exceeding high expectations. In Gartner’s 2009 CIO survey, cloud computing ranked #16 as a business priority. In one year, according to Gartner’s latest survey, cloud computing jumped 14 spots up the priority list to #2, behind virtualization. “Gartner predicts that within two years 80% of Fortune 1000 enterprises will use the cloud at some level.”1 For many companies, cloud use will be at significant levels: Gartner has estimated that 30-35% of the IT workload would move to the cloud over the next five years, but the actual rate is outpacing that estimate.2
Government is behind, but not by far. For example, the U.S. Federal CIO, Vivek Kundra, launched the Federal Government’s Cloud Computing Initiative in September 2009. The U.S. Government is the world’s biggest IT buyer, spending over $76 billion annually on more than 1,100 data centers, 10,000 systems, 24,000 web sites, and 272,000 data sets on data.gov alone (up from just 47 data sets a year ago). Clearly, there’s gravitational pull to the U.S. initiative, which will accelerate the general move to the cloud.
Compelling benefits are a powerful draw.
Businesses and governments around the world are moving to the cloud because of its clear and compelling benefits – flexibility, speed, savings. But what’s not quite as clear about the cloud is … exactly what it is. Definitions abound, none widely accepted. Maybe this is because it’s tough to define something that’s changing before your eyes. To paraphrase John Lennon, the cloud is what’s happening while we’re busy making plans. We’re building it, but not to a blueprint. The major cloud providers began offering cloud services to exploit the large-scale infrastructure they’d invested in prior to the cloud; hence, there’s much heterogeneity among cloud offerings but few agreed-upon interfaces. Meanwhile, the “cloud ecosystem” continues to evolve and expand, encompassing private, public, hybrid, and federated clouds, all in various stages of evolution, along with various types of cloud services including infrastructure-, platform-, and software-as-a-service.
But there are concerns as well – about data portability and integration, for one.
Even as organizations are drawn to the early cloud by its benefits, there are important concerns about data security and portability. Concerning portability, for example: What if you want to change service providers? Once your data is in the cloud, how difficult will it be to get it back out? What if you want to move data hosted in a cloud in Europe, say, to another region?
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