6 Questions For Accenture's Cloud Computing Captain

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What are some of the roadblocks you've been seeing keeping clients from adopting the cloud? Early on it was security it was data control. What are some of the reasons clients are putting behind not deploying the cloud?

[Security and data control] are still the big ones. It's hard to say that the performance isn't there. These things are highly available, high performance environments, so that was an early sort of issue that's gone away by the waters. People still - when they think about it, and I think this is probably the largest conceptual roadblock - say 'Yeah, we want the cloud but we want it to work exactly like our old stuff works.' The fact is it doesn't, and it doesn't for a reason.

A highly virtualized environment with massive capacity and shared resources just doesn't work like a traditional app server/database server kind of environment that is cordoned off and you're managing actual physical boxes. It will never work like the traditional environment, but people still want it to.

I was looking at an RFP [recently] from a very large global player for infrastructure management services and they say 'We want infrastructure management services in the cloud' and they list 10 pages of requirements. They want data assurance, they want to know what the server builds look like and you just don't get that. We can give you a specification for a service and we can tell you how it will perform. In time, I think the understanding will get better and people will start to ask the right questions and think about how to use it.

The concerns around security and data privacy are the big ones and that's evident from my discussions with perspective clients and survey data.

A lot of public providers are reticent to take on the kinds of responsibility and liability that the outsourcing business had for years around that. The guys who were product providers, like Microsoft for instance, are now service providers and data custodians and they never had to step up and guarantee contractually that they would maintain and handle with care the customer data to the same extent that the customer does. I think they've got some maturation to do in that space as well. Amazon is the same way. The Force, Salesforce, is different because they have a track record of performance that gets customers over the hump more quickly. They're beginning to deploy some very large scale deployments of Salesforce, which of course has customer data in it, but clients seem to be less worried about Salesforce for some reason.

Having said all that, I think the economics, the flexibility, the speed of implementation and all of those things are going to win the day and in time these issues will be cured through commercial measures, through technical measures and through changes in attitudes, but they still remain today as extensive roadblocks.

If security and data privacy are the biggest roadblocks, what are some of the key things you see driving clients to cloud computing offerings?

It's cost. Cost. Cost. And cost.

I don't think any of our colleagues in the enterprise IT world have been relieved of the responsibility to continue to drive down costs in the enterprise. It's a permanent condition. While we talk about agility and so on the first question is: Can I do something I'm doing today for less? Or can I do something in the future that I'm not doing today for less than I think it would cost me under conventional means? That's confirmed by surveys and confirmed by the work we're doing with our clients.

Following closely after that is the growing realization that you can do things faster. It's not only cheaper, but you can do them faster and you can do some things you couldn't do before. If you're in the pharma industry and you want to do some analytics on clinical trials and you want to go to Amazon and spin up 1,000 concurrent servers and use it to process a data set in 15 minutes -- it might have taken you a month in the old world -- at a cost that is a fraction of what it would cost to outfit and provision that same function in the old world then wow that's good. I think people are seeing that the software and the applications themselves are pretty good. They're next-generation, they're more easily integrated, they're pretty functionally rich and they're highly configurable.

Cost is compelling, but increasingly, as people kind of get their heads around what the opportunities for the use of these technologies and business models are -- and in cost there's the change from capital to operating expenses -- there's a continuing wave of demand for it.


Next: A Closer Look At Cloud

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