For audience members using or considering cloud computing, 26 percent said in an on-the-spot electronic poll that their primary interest was for test and development, another 10 percent cited either test or development, 23 percent cited disaster recovery, and 12 percent cited Web services. Only eight percent cited production work as their primary interest.
Test and development is the best way to get started in cloud computing without impacting the operations of the entire IT department, Crenshaw said.
"A surprising number of our enterprise customers are using Amazon EC2 without their managers knowing it, and then expanding to more applications over time as they get used to the cloud," he said.
Chris Van Wagoner, chief strategy officer for storage vendor CommVault, said security concerns are still keeping customers from putting sensitive data such as health-care records on the cloud.
"Customers are concerned about what would happen if they got broken into," Van Wagoner said. "But if you lose a little test or development here or there, it's not such an issue."
Several panelists said customers will need to develop new skills in order to embrace cloud computing going forward.
Herrod said that organizations will need a combination of experience in internal IT and outsourced IT practices as well as in software-as-a-service in order to work in the cloud. "An IT staff will need to be able to look across all of these areas," he said.
Those three areas will also have to be managed as a whole, said van der Zweep.
"Customers will need to be able to look at what is best for private clouds, and what is best for public clouds," he said. "They will need to look at best practices and develop the skills to see what goes to the cloud, and what doesn't. Otherwise, they will lose control over what goes to the cloud."
Next: Developing VARs' Skills For The Cloud