We all know how important and ubiquitous email has become, not just in business but in our lives. Can you remember when you learned about email (i.e., electronic mail, e-mail) for the first time and didn't yet know how fundamentally this technology would change the way we communicate and do business? Now think for a minute about cloud computing as being in that same sort of unpredictable infancy.
That's one of the findings of a study released last month by the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) and ISACA. The two organizations surveyed more than 250 participants ranging from end users to C-level executives and from organizations of all sizes. Using factors such as market size and diversity, levels of acceptance and integration, and amount of innovation, the survey determined that cloud computing is still in its infancy.
CSA and ISACA have defined four stages of development for cloud technology:
- Infancy: "potential for growth and innovation . . . has not been realized"
- Growth: widespread adoption and innovation takes place and the technology is well understood
- Maturity: the main players are well-established, and the technology is "business as usual"
- Decline: the market becomes saturated, and there's little room for new entrants or products
Within the study results, respondents rated Software as a Service (SaaS) as barely into the Growth phase and ahead of both Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS), with the overall result putting cloud computing squarely in its squalling infancy. One of the characteristics of this stage is that it's the era of early adopters, according to the study -- and most businesses don't want to be stuck changing the diapers for an untested technology.
Obviously, the cloud isn't really untested if you consider that it's just another way of thinking about the Internet, which has been around for -- how long, now? Yeah, quite a few years. Nonetheless, for most businesses, this is a new way of thinking about getting important IT services, which takes some adjustment. Maybe the cloud just has a PR problem.
Another part of the Cloud Maturity study ranked the factors causing lack of confidence in the cloud. High among them are the sort of things we've come to expect: regulatory and compliance fears; data privacy and security concerns; contract lock in and exit strategies. The full survey results have a lot more information about these factors, but it essentially all comes back to a lack of trust in the cloud service providers to offer the same level of security or service that companies feel they can provide themselves on premises.
According to the study, "cloud computing can provide significant opportunities for enterprises to innovate in ways that could disrupt established ways of providing and using information technology. However, according to the participants in the CSA/ISACA survey, the cloud market has not yet reached a level of maturity that will support this scenario." However, it seems inevitable that such a maturity level will be reached, and the study predicts another two to three years before cloud computing will be firmly in the Growth stage of development overall.
You can download the full Cloud Maturity survey results from CSA or ISACA. They also created the infographic on "The Rise of the Cloud" that accompanies this article. And if you didn't get to participate in the CSA/ISACA study, feel free to let us know your thoughts on the state of the cloud by leaving a comment below. Do you think cloud computing will ever be as ubiquitous and commonplace in IT as email has become?