7 Reasons Customers Hate Their Cloud Providers

Unhappy Cloud

A recently released Forrester Consulting study reveals many cloud users believe their providers are not sharing enough information about their cloud usage, and it's hurting their business.

In addition to transparency, customer service, added costs and on-boarding are diminishing cloud enthusiasm as well. These businesses love the cloud -- but their providers, well, not so much.

The study was commissioned by iland, an enterprise cloud hosting provider, and surveyed infrastructure and operations professionals in 275 organizations across the U.S., U.K., and Singapore throughout May.

"Buried in the complexities of today's clouds are crippling hazards," said Lilac Schoenbeck, iland's vice president of product management and marketing. "Critical metadata is withheld, seriously dampening cloud growth; yet all the while, businesses are building growth plans based on an assumption of infinite cloud resources."

As key to many of these relationships, here's what the channel needs to know so they can help foster reconciliation (or bring peace).

Commodity Blues

It seems many cloud users aren't feeling that personal touch.

Forty-four percent of the respondents said their provider doesn't know their company or understand its business needs. And 43 percent believe if they were just bigger customers, maybe their providers would care more.

In short, they feel the coldness of a commodity transaction when procuring cloud services, and they don't like it.

One practice that one-third of the businesses surveyed by Forrester said imparts the commodity blues -- they get charged for every little question or incident.

Too Many Secrets

Withholding information from customers is not only frustrating, it's also costly.

Every company that took the Forrester survey said they felt some financial or operational impact from missing or hidden data about their cloud usage.

"A lack of clear cloud usage and operational data results in performance problems, challenges with reporting to management on costs of performance, payment for resources that customers ultimately don't use, and unexpected bills," the report noted.

Where's The Metadata?

The IT pros responsible for their company's cloud infrastructure want cost and performance metrics that deliver certainty and transparency, but apparently that's often hard to articulate to their providers.

Companies that participated in the survey said the metadata they receive about their cloud workloads is usually incomplete.

Almost half the companies said compliance data was missing, and 44 percent were lacking performance data, 43 percent historical data, 39 percent security data, and 33 percent billing and cost data.

Transparency Troubles

Companies said a lack of metadata causes all sorts of problems.

Nearly two-thirds of respondents told Forrester that transparency challenges limit their ability to realize the full benefits of the cloud.

"A lack of transparency gives rise to a variety of issues, with performance problems or outages topping the list," the report stated.

About 40 percent try to fill in the gaps themselves by procuring additional tools from their cloud providers. Another 40 percent simply purchase different cloud services that prioritize transparency.

Compliance Concerns

Companies are ultimately responsible for all their data, whether they support it on-premise or put it in the cloud.

"That's no small feat," according to Forrester's report.

More than 70 percent of the respondents in the survey said their organizations are subject to regular audits and they must verify their compliance status, regardless of where their data lives.

That imposes a barrier on cloud adoption for almost half of the companies polled.

"But the point of compliance is to be transparent with your end users about your practices. When cloud providers hold onto or don't reveal this information, it prevents you from doing just that," the report stated.

Compliance Challenges

More than 60 percent of the companies said compliance challenges are restricting further adoption of cloud usage.

The main challenges:

-- 55 percent of companies bound by compliance said implementing proper controls is their biggest challenge.

-- About half find it difficult to understand the level of compliance their cloud provider offers.

-- Another half of respondents said it's difficult to get documentation of the provider's compliance status to fulfill an audit. And 42 percent struggle to get documentation of their own compliance status for workloads they run in the cloud.

On-Boarding Woes

It seems on-boarding is another area of general dissatisfaction, with just more than half of the companies surveyed telling Forrester they were unhappy with the on-boarding and support processes their cloud providers made available to them.

Of the 51 percent not satisfied with the on-boarding process, 26 percent said it took too long and 21 percent felt it lacked human support.

More than half were also not satisfied with the support process, with 22 percent citing slow response times, 20 percent citing lack of expertise of the support personnel, 19 percent experiencing lingering support issues, and 18 percent getting billed with higher-than-expected support costs.

Expansion Headwinds

Many of the companies polled by Forrester are actually reining in their cloud expansion plans because of the problems they are experiencing with their existing services.

At least 60 percent said the lack of operational transparency, compliance information, and solid support hinders them from expanding their cloud use. If not for those issues, they would do more in the cloud, they said.