IDC: Challenges Still Loom Over Cloud Services

The survey, which queried 263 IT executives and their line-of-business colleagues, found that security, availability and performance remained the top three challenges for IT cloud services in 2009. Those factors represented the top three challenges in IDC's 2008 cloud services survey as well. The survey noted that cloud service providers must address and alleviate those concerns for cloud computing to reach more users.

"This survey result is a clear call for suppliers to offer service level agreements, and " more important " service level assurance," Frank Gens, IDC senior vice president and chief analyst, wrote in a blog post announcing the findings. Gens added that some of the worries around cloud computing will prompt traditional IT suppliers to dive head first into cloud services in 2010, focusing on enterprise-grade IT cloud services.

A notable shift IDC found, however, was that users' No. 4 concern is that a cloud model would actually cost them more than a non-cloud model. Cost concerns rose from No. 6 in 2008's to No. 4 in 2009. While cost is usually seen as a massive benefit of cloud computing, some IT brass fear it could wind up more costly over time.

"Smart IT executives ask: 'what if my end-users, enabled by the cloud model's self-service provisioning capabilities, use more than (or they) have budgeted for?'" Gens wrote.

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Another potential hindrance of cloud adoption is the current lack of interoperability standards, which clocked in as the No. 5 challenge in the survey. According to IDC, cloud customers fear that choosing cloud services could lead to lock-in.

Despite the challenges, IDC's survey found that economic benefits were once again key drivers of cloud services adoption in 2009. Three of the top five benefits focused on the cost advantages of the cloud model with the ability to pay per use as the No. 1 benefit.

Other benefits cloud services were it's the ease and speed in which it can be deployed; the cloud model's ability to encourage standard systems; the ability to pay based on actual usage and the need for fewer in-house IT resources.

"Cloud services -- by definition -- are built on the premise of standard, shared systems, Gens wrote. "This survey finding suggests that IT executives increasingly see, and will promote, standardization as an additional -- and important -- justification for migrating to both public and private cloud offerings."