Cloud computing in the U.S. shows momentum

How widespread is business use of cloud computing?  The results of one survey published Tuesday suggest use of both public and private clouds has real momentum in the United States, with private cloud computing appearing to be more popular.

Among 210 IT executives in U.S. businesses, roughly one-third currently uses only private cloud computing, while another one-third uses both private and public clouds. Roughly 1 in 10 uses only public cloud computing, and almost one-quarter uses no cloud computing option at all.Private cloud technologies: Five things you need to know

The survey, conducted in August by Harris Interactive and sponsored by Novell, indicates that 43 per cent of IT executives with decision-making authority foresee increased use of both public and private cloud platforms in the future. Roughly 29 per cent expect more use of private-cloud platforms, while five per cent expect increased use of public clouds. Another five per cent have "no plans" regarding use of cloud computing, and seven per cent said they are not sure.

The Harris Interactive survey also sought to find out whether cloud computing deployments will occur alongside, instead of replacing, company-owned data centers.

When asked if the use of cloud computing will increase as current IT platforms need to be replaced, 92 per cent of the IT execs answered either "strongly agree" or "somewhat agree." At the same time, almost 9 in 10 agree that cloud computing will occur alongside, instead of replacing, company-owned data centers.

When asked about the benefits of public cloud computing,  68 per cent cited freedom of maintaining hardware and a lower cost of upkeep; about 60 per cent reported both lower cost of upkeep and better resource scalability; and 37 per cent said public-cloud computing enables "quicker IT response time."

But public cloud computing still raises significant security concerns.

Among the IT executives polled, 91 per cent said they had security concerns about public cloud computing, and almost 9 in 10 said they believed confidential data is more secure in private-cloud systems than it is in public-cloud systems. In addition, 81 per cent cited concerns that it’s harder to maintain regulatory and policy compliance in public as opposed to private clouds.

Some negative perceptions about public-cloud computing are still rampant, with three-quarters of respondents expressing the opinion that "outside vendors are not as diligent about data security as internal IT departments." But perhaps most telling is the question of where responsibilities between client and vendor lie: 60 per cent of the IT execs said they "feel it is unclear in public cloud computing."

The Harris Interactive survey indicates that 8 in 10 of the respondents seem to be tilting toward private-cloud computing as offering "most of the advantages of public cloud computing without the security and compliance issues." Most (89 per cent) agreed private clouds are the next logical step for organizations already using virtualization.

When asked about possible barriers to adoption of private-cloud computing, 53 per cent said the initial cost is a barrier, and half expressed security concerns as well.

Read more about data center in Network World's Data Center section.

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Ellen Messmer

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