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The 451 Group was pleased to work with North Bridge Venture Partners, GigaOM and additional companies and players in the industry for the Future of Cloud Computing Survey 2011, which confirmed the early nature of the market, but also indicated customers and users have learned from previous trends, particularly open source software and virtualization. The Future of Cloud Computing Survey 2011 garnered 417 responses from both vendors and end users, focusing on current use, drivers, barriers and future plans regardâ€Șing cloud computing.
One of the clearest points of the survey was the early stage of cloud computing. We found 40% of respondents are only experimenting with cloud computing at this point. Another 26% of survey respondents reported they are waiting for more maturity in the market before adopting a cloud strategy. In terms of current cloud use, 13% indicated complete confidence for mission critical applications, while 11 percent of respondents cited usage spikes. This shows that while cloud computing is indeed just getting started for a majority of the market, there is current production use of cloud computing that is significant.
Respondents identified agility, scalability and cost savings as the biggest drivers of cloud computing. The significance of saving money with cloud computing was reinforced by the fact that 55% of respondents believe the cloud has a lower total cost ownership (TCO) and only 13% indicating a higher TCO in the cloud. Similar to what we have seen with the drivers of open source software, there was also an indication in the Future of Cloud Survey that other factors are emerging as more significant, particularly performance, reliability and innovation. In the longer term over the next five years, cloud survey respondents identified competitive differentiation, mobility and open cloud APIs for interoperability were most important.
Security and compliance were ranked as top inhibitors to cloud computing with both garnering 31% of survey responses. These are consistent with our ongoing conversations with cloud computing users and providers. Although compliance can sometimes be viewed as an excuse for organizations to delay implementation cloud computing, we believe the survey also validates compliance as a real challenge for customers wary of expanding compliance or regulatory requirements by adopting the cloud. Interoperability and vendor lock-in were ranked the next most significant challenges, both with 25% of response. Though we saw vendor lock-in fade a bit as a concern for customers two to three years ago, it has risen again as a major issue in cloud computing. We believe this is in part because of the early nature of cloud computing and a desire from users to avoid getting stuck with a cloud vendor, framework or technology. The preponderence of open source software pieces and vendors in cloud computing also reinforces the significance of avoiding vendor lock-in, with users now demanding and vendors delivering more open, multi-supplier, multi-technology cloud offerings.
The survey also indicated a realization among users that the cloud is no silver bullet and will not necessarily reduce IT staff or complexity, for the most part. Nearly 75% of respondents indicated the cloud would mean supporting the same staff or require more hiring, while only 26% expected a decrease in staff with the cloud. Perhaps a case of education from previous deployment of open source software, virtualization and other trends before the cloud, we believe this shows an intelligence in the market that should equate to effective and rapid uptake of cloud computing resources and offerings. We will of course continue to track these aspects of cloud computing, but we have no doubt that open source software will continue to play a key role.

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