If you’re an IT manager or senior IT executive in the evaluation phase for turning over some of your infrastructure to the cloud, you’re not alone. Cloud adoption can vary by industry and organization, but cloud computing is rapidly making inroads into most organizations. According to a recent survey of 600 senior IT and business executives by Savvis, 70 percent of IT decision makers are using or plan to use cloud computing in their own enterprises within 24 months.

While concerns about security, identity, SLAs, and other topics are still on the minds of many IT pros, those concerns are gradually being addressed by cloud providers. (My colleague Michele Crockett writes about the skills that IT pros need to fit into the new cloud economy, as cloud-savvy IT staff is essential to successful cloud adoption.) While cloud computing may not be a complete solution for every enterprise—nobody is talking about ditching internal data centers yet, and probably never will—a number of pressing factors are driving the growth of cloud computing. I’ll cover some of the biggest drivers towards cloud computing adoption here.

Improved IT Agility

As recently as a few years ago, it took far too long for many IT departments to respond to increasing demand for computing capacity. Too much paperwork, too many approvals, and a reliance on hard-to-deploy physical servers meant that IT was often slow to respond to variable organizational needs. Virtualization helped that situation immensely, and the arrival of cloud computing gives IT organizations even more of an ability to easily (and cost-effectively) expand and reduce computing resources to meet fluctuating demands.

Cost Savings and ROI

Cloud computing isn’t a panacea, but there are clear-cut cases where moving part of your IT infrastructure to the cloud makes solid operational and financial sense. Here at Penton Media we recently moved from a cumbersome legacy email newsletter tool—developed in house—that required an ongoing (and expensive) commitment in terms of user training and application maintenance to a new cloud-based email newsletter solution. If you have legacy software applications in your own organization, are they really worth the time, expense, and human capital needed to keep them running when superior cloud-based alternatives are available?

Private Cloud vs. Public Cloud

The concept of the private cloud computing system has gathered steam over the past 12 months. Public cloud computing services generally rely on having your data on someone else’s infrastructure. That can be a non-starter for many IT administrators, especially if your organization operates under tricky auditing, compliance, or data location requirements. That’s where the private cloud steps in: Leveraging virtualization and commodity hardware, the private cloud can provide some of the elastic benefits of public cloud computing without some of the inherent risks that public cloud computing still needs to address.

Cloud-Savvy IT Staff

A new breed of IT professionals is stepping into leadership positions in many organizations. Some fear that cloud computing could mean the end of their careers, but savvy IT pros realize that someone in the organization has to take the lead in selecting what IT platforms and services are moved to the cloud while simultaneously educating management and the rest of the organization why other elements aren’t good candidates for cloud computing treatment.

Many organizations are eagerly recruiting skilled IT professionals who not only have a grasp of the technical aspects of in-house IT, but can also champion and facilitate the adoption of cloud computing products and services. I’ve heard firsthand that IT professionals who can simultaneously balance IT and tech needs while meeting the strategic needs of the business are a hot commodity, and business leaders should make every effort to retain and reward qualified staff and spend the necessary capital to train and reward the next generation of IT leadership.

Are you an IT or business decision maker that has tips and advice on how you successfully moved some of your infrastructure to the cloud? Send your tips, advice, and suggestions to me via email at jeff.james@penton.com, and follow me on Twitter @jeffjames3.