Decision Time: Which Kind Of Cloud Buyer Is Your Customer?

400 IT Pros Can Say A Lot

2ndWatch, a leading cloud services provider, has released its latest survey in which 400 IT professionals weighed in on the decision-making process for adopting cloud technologies. The online survey queried respondents over a two-week period about their cloud purchasing behaviors, goals and attitudes. It then grouped those respondents into one of three buying categories:

Calculated buyers are testing the waters with a small number of cloud applications.

Market-driven buyers are moving customer-facing applications to the cloud, but maintaining their own internal systems on dedicated hardware.

All-In buyers are shutting down data centers and moving all workloads to the cloud.

As The Cloud Matures, A Divide Emerges

The largest number of respondents, 42 percent, fell into the category of calculated buyers, testing one or two applications, but making no serious commitment to the cloud.

But the next largest group represented the other end of the spectrum -- 32 percent of the IT professionals said they were going with an all-in strategy.

Only 16 percent of the 400 who took the survey were grouped as market-driven, the middle category.

Another 10 percent split their responses evenly among two categories.

"Probably the most interesting thing for me, I was surprised at how high the percentage was for all-in buyers, and surprised at how low it was for market-driven," Matt Gerber, executive vice president of sales and marketing at 2nd Watch, told CRN.

Goals Are Varied, But Money Matters

Saving money and avoiding in-house management of technology were the forces driving cloud adoption for 36 percent of respondents.

Another 33 percent were moving to the cloud with application-specific goals, and 29 percent said they use the cloud to quickly respond to new opportunities.

A majority of respondents, 64 percent, believe the cloud will help drive business or customer-related innovations at their company.

Cloud Adoption

Almost 30 percent of the 400 IT professionals said their company was either almost ready to move entirely to the cloud, or were already there. Those respondents expect their cloud infrastructure to continue to grow with their companies.

A good number more, in total 43 percent of respondents, told 2nd Watch they weren't sure about their future use of the cloud.

And roughly one-quarter said their company will expand its cloud computing capabilities, but maintain a hybrid infrastructure for quite a while.

Selection Criteria

When choosing a cloud infrastructure provider, 37 percent told 2nd Watch they look at both cost and comprehensiveness of services.

Another 32 percent compare cost and performance metrics.

And according to 30 percent of respondents, name-brand market leaders are the way to go to ensure a reliable, fast user experience.


The IT director has the most influence in making cloud purchasing decisions in 47 percent of companies surveyed. But increasingly, business unit leaders are directly making IT buys. According to the survey, 28 percent of IT professionals admit that it's business units, and 24 percent that it's sales and marketing, making those decisions.

Gerber interprets these numbers as a reconciliation between shadow IT and central IT.

A year ago, business and marketing units were only accounting for 20 percent of purchasing decisions, but increasing comfort with security, and recognition of the need for agility and flexibility, are changing that balance.

"What the survey is telling us along with some other data points is that for cloud adoption we're starting to see en masse the business units and central IT working together," Gerber told CRN.


Nearly half of respondents, 48 percent, claimed not to be influenced by what their competitors were doing in the cloud.

A smaller number, 30 percent of respondents, told 2nd Watch that their company indeed was influenced by competitive cloud moves because they see the cloud as a key differentiator.

The remaining 22 percent of companies were "sometimes" influenced by competitors, mainly out of awareness of driving sales and better customer service.

Executive Buy-In

Almost half the IT professionals, 42 percent, told 2nd Watch their CEOs are still cautious about the cloud due to privacy, security or legal concerns.

But 35 percent of them said they enjoy a CEO who is an enthusiastic supporter of the cloud.

Another 22 percent reported that their CEO doesn't care much how employees get work done as long as they get results.


Barriers to cloud adoption are breaking down at an astonishing pace.

"I think the conclusion here is people are moving much more quickly for the journey than they were a year ago. They're doing their testing, and a lot more of them are saying this works. We've done market feasibility, we've done the cost analysis, let's go. That was one big ah-hah for us," Gerber told CRN.

But lack of control and visibility remain barriers to adoption, according to 45 percent of respondents.

Growing complexity stemming from issues such as integration is the next greatest concern, one cited by 36 percent of respondents. The remaining 18 percent said the attractive pricing and service offerings of cloud providers mitigate any concerns.