Symantec has released the results of a global survey that shows that although IT organizations are planning to move mission-critical functions to virtual and hybrid cloud environments, there is still a substantial amount of hesitance about how effective cloud computing is at its current stage.

“There are still some significant gaps between expectations of private cloud and virtualization and what the realities are,” said Sean Derrington, director of cloud product management for Symantec’s Information Management Group.

The study, called “2011 Virtualization and Evolution to the Cloud Survey,” was conducted by Applied Research, which surveyed IT and C-level professionals responsible for computers, networks and technology resources at small, medium, and large enterprises (defined as 1,000 to 2,400 employees; 2,500 to 4,999 employees; and 5,000+ employees). The survey included more than 3,700 respondents from 35 countries.

Topics surveyed in the study include server, client, and storage virtualization; storage-as-a-service; and overall hybrid/private cloud technologies. The expecation/reality gaps Derrington referred to are in many of those areas:

  • For server virtualization there is only a 4 percent average gap between expected and realized goals. The biggest gaps occurred in scalability, reducing capital expenditures and reducing operating expenditures.
  • In storage virtualization, the gap was 33 percent, with disappointments coming in agility, scalability and reducing operating expenditures.
  • In desktop virtualization, the average gap between expected and realized goals was 26 percent. Respondents cited disappointments in new endpoint deployment, application delivery and application compatibility.
  • Storage-as-a-service deployments fall short of respondent expectations by 37 percent. For example, complexity reduction was a goal for 84 percent of respondents, but reached by only 44 percent.

“One of the common misconceptions was that server virtualization equals private cloud,” Derrington said. “They’ve figured out it’s more than just virtualizing the server, and these results reflect those altered expectations.” Symantec expects to see those gaps closed, he said, as virtualization and cloud technologies continue to mature.

The study also looked at the difference perceptions about cloud between IT and business executives. According to the survey findings, 46 percent of CFOs who are implementing hybrid or private clouds are less than “somewhat open” to moving business-critical applications into those environments. Forty-four percent of CEOs are cautious about moving these applications. Main concerns cited about virtualization and hybrid cloud deployments are reliability (78 percent), security (76 percent) and performance (76 percent).

“It shows there has to be more of an alignment between what the executives are looking for and what IT can deliver,” Derrington said.