MSPs dipping their toes -- or whole feet -- into cloud services need to know how their existing and potential customers plan to use the cloud. The tasks and services that customers plan to assign to cloud computing, as well as their preferences about whether to use private, public or hybrid cloud, all inform MSPs' decisions around the cloud.
A fall 2013 Cloud Pulse survey of IT professionals conducted by SearchITChannel publisher TechTarget Inc. provided cloud computing statistics that shed light on these issues. Sixty-seven percent of about 823 survey respondents reported using cloud IT services and applications. The remaining 272 respondents were not using cloud services at the time of the survey. Of those 272 respondents, 49% (or only about 16% of all survey respondents) said they didn't have plans to implement cloud services in the foreseeable future. Thirteen percent said they would implement cloud services within six months, and 26% said they would do so in seven to 12 months. Twelve percent said they would implement cloud services within the next two years.
Many IT departments have adopted cloud computing, but information about the use of public, private and hybrid cloud helps clarify for managed service providers (MSPs) how cloud computing services are being implemented within organizations, and why. Survey results showed the use of private cloud trails that of public and hybrid. Forty percent of respondents primarily use public cloud, 38% primarily use hybrid, and 22% primarily use a private cloud model. Looking ahead six months, the survey indicated a slight increase of all three types of cloud storage, with the most growth (about five percentage points) expected in hybrid cloud.
It's worth noting that survey respondents like many of the same benefits in each cloud delivery model, though they valued the benefits at different rates. For example, those primarily using private cloud cited the three best benefits, in order, as: improved availability, application scalability and lower costs (not withstanding concerns about the hidden costs of cloud computing). Those primarily using hybrid cloud cited, in order, improved availability, more efficient use of IT resources and lower costs as the top three benefits. Those primarily using public cloud, meanwhile, cited lower costs, improved availability and more efficient use of IT resources as the best benefits. But costs are significantly more enticing than other benefits for public cloud users: Sixty percent of respondents cited lower costs as a benefit of cloud, 15 percentage points above the next most cited benefit, improved availability. The benefit of lower costs also ranked a full 15 percentage points higher among those primarily using public cloud versus those primarily using private and hybrid cloud.
More cloud computing statistics
Summer 2013: CompTIA study on cloud adoption trends
Spring 2013: Cloud computing use by IT organizations
Spring 2013: Cloud storage implementation data
Fall 2012: Storage Purchasing Intentions cloud storage survey results
As for the complaints IT organizations have about cloud storage, survey respondents cited the same top challenge with private, hybrid and public cloud: all applications are not suitable for use (some providers are addressing this issue by verticalizing cloud applications for customers). Those primarily using public cloud seemed to have less of a problem with application suitability than those using private, with 45% of private cloud users citing it versus only 22% of public cloud users.
IT organizations are using cloud computing for a variety of tasks. At the top of the list among survey respondents were business applications (used by 59% of survey respondents who are currently using cloud computing); Web application hosting at 56%; email at 50%; data protection, backup or archiving at 43%; and test and development at 42%.
Drilling down into cloud storage -- the most popular cloud service type after Software as a Service in the Cloud Pulse survey -- the most frequently cited uses of cloud storage were for collaboration and file sharing, as well as for backup.
Fifty-six percent of survey respondents also reported that their primary method for accessing their cloud storage services was through software provided by the service provider, compared with 22% who use other locally installed software that connects to the cloud storage, and 16% who use an on-premises appliance that links to the cloud service. When it comes to cloud backup in particular, an even greater percentage, 64%, use the cloud backup provider's software to send data to the cloud, though not necessarily as the primary method.
In the next six months, IT organizations expect more business applications to use cloud storage. About 40% of respondents who use cloud storage reported that 1% to 25% of their business applications now use cloud storage, versus only 26% in six months; conversely, about 21% reported that three-quarters or more of their business applications use cloud storage now, versus an expected 26% in six months.