Where you stand on cloud security depends on where you sit. Views differ, sometimes sharply, according to the title of the respondent. For example, 52% of business-unit heads say that the biggest challenges they face from cloud computing is ensuring consistent security. CEOs see things the same way, but IT executives (39%) and executives in operations (30%) are less likely to list security as their top challenge.
Why the disconnect? IT and operations have a more granular focus on all aspects of cloud computing, which gives them a variety of things to worry about, from regulatory compliance (a major concern for operations) to avoiding silos in information and business process flows (more of an issue for IT than any other group). CEOs and business-unit heads, meanwhile, are most attuned to the high-level business risks of security problems. This pattern continues as one looks deeper into the survey data. For example, CEOs are more focused on the financial risks of cloud adoption (70% concerned or highly concerned) than are IT executives (58%); CEOs also worry more about brand and reputation risk (62% vs. 54%), while IT is somewhat more concerned with the nuts-and-bolts of regulatory compliance than chief executives. The lesson from these numbers is unsurprising, but bears repeating: Security in the cloud is a
multi-faceted problem that presents issues across the enterprise.
From our paper on protecting the cloud
“We are able to use the cloud to manage infrastructure and human capital far more effectively,” says Lincoln Wallen, Chief Technology Officer at DreamWorks Animation SKG. “A shared-service, distributed-cloud model gives us the flexibility to know who is doing what at any given moment and fully understand what infrastructure is and can be applied to any given problem at any given time.”
From our paper on cloud platform integration,
Overall, 79% of survey respondents expect meaningful improvements in productivity
as a result of cloud initiatives. These gains typically center on innovation, speed,
and efficiency of processes. “What’s attractive about cloud services is that they can
be switched on, scaled up, scaled down, and reconfigured quickly, and with few IT
resources,” says John Rote, Vice President of Product and Experience at Bonobos,
a fast-growing apparel retailer. “It’s possible to go from State A to State B without
having to navigate an intermediate state.” Constructing streamlined and integrated
cloud networks goes a long way toward achieving this seamless environment.
From our paper on cloud platform integration,
Our study revealed key differences in the way regions of the world are approaching cloud technologies. For a targeted look at how our APJ respondents compare to the rest of the world,
Among the predictions about the future of the cloud
at a recent technology event in San Francisco: The role of IT will become more business-focused as routine operations are off-loaded. Some very large companies will migrate all of their technology infrastructure to the cloud, sooner rather than later. And computing power will follow the same trend as electric power did a century ago, becoming a utility delivered from industrial-grade plants (an idea popularized by Nicholas Carr’s 2008 book,
The Big Switch
Significant progress toward some version of this future already is in evidence, as shown by our study, Unlocking the Cloud. And companies are moving quickly to further their cloud presence–92% of our survey respondents expect to achieve moderate to significant improvements in speed and efficiency of processes via the cloud.
As the chart shows, key business functions such as HR and finance will see rapid cloud adoption in the next three years, and companies expect to see significant gains in productivity, innovation, and efficiency as a result.
Our boldest prediction, made in the paper “Connecting the Cloud,” concerns the power of networked clouds. We say that cloud-derived advances to date are “only incremental gains compared with those promised by the merger of disparate clouds, whether operated by different groups within the same company or by external business partners.” Integration of cloud-based operations into business networks promises a variety of payoffs, including better performance across functional areas (e.g., supply chain, purchasing, payments); increased ability to partner with other firms and take advantage of new technology; and access to new markets and customers.
Nobody who works in technology thinks this will be a picnic. Chuck Hollis, chief strategist for VMware, has
at his blog a litany of cloud-related woes suffered by vendors and customers in the early days of the transition. But he also sees a way forward, to a market where services tailored to business needs become essential to enterprise users. Here, high-level capabilities, not price, will emerge as the key differentiator. Writes Hollis, “As an IT vendor, you’re known by the quality of your people; I can’t seeing [sic] it being all that different in an enterprise public cloud world.”
Mobile clouds are changing the way business is done, altering the way workers interact and how companies securely connect to their customers and business partners. The mix of cloud, mobile, and big data increases the speed of decision-making, enabling a more dynamic and agile flow of information and knowledge across the globe. Companies are very focused on their mobile cloud strategy—firms are using mobile clouds to boost internal productivity and collaboration, and to improve customer focus.
We can expect to see firms focus on customer strategy in 2014—among the targeted plans are real-time customer service, faster response times to customer needs, and customer retention. Geo-fencing and targeted advertising on mobile devices are vital parts of firms’ new customer-facing strategies.
Mobility and cloud computing are creating new opportunities and risks that businesses will have to address in the coming year. It is critical that firms understand the strategic opportunities these technologies offer and build out systems and applications that support them. Mobile cloud platforms require a good deal of planning and effort. Organizations will have to develop a cohesive and focused strategy and break down silos and departmental boundaries in order to achieve maximum results. It is also critical they adopt efficient workflows and ensure that solid governance and security protections are in place. Only then will enterprises be able to realize the full potential of mobility and construct cloud platforms that are truly transformative.
Our survey shows that security of corporate data is overwhelmingly the top concern when it comes to perceptions of risk in the cloud. This will remain a major issue in 2014, particularly after revelations of NSA snooping raised questions about cloud security.
Firms should adopt comprehensive, holistic approaches to security, understanding their potential vulnerabilities and the potential cost of a security breach—whether financial, reputational, or regulatory. In 2014, we can expect firms to refine their approaches to security. This may mean more companies turning to hybrid clouds, which offer the scalability of public clouds and the security of private clouds. It could also mean changes to BYOD policies and more focus on combatting accidental internal security breaches. Regardless of which tactics they choose, increased focus on security will significantly alter the ways businesses use the cloud.
In early 2013, Oxford Economics surveyed 200 executives and found that firms are planning to invest heavily in cloud networks over the next three years. Across the board, all companies—including small- and medium-sized firms—are planning to pour resources into developing cloud platforms.
Where will these investments lead? When we asked about which business functions are cloud-based now and which will be in three years, we found that companies expect wide increases in use across the board—but the most significant growth will be in innovation and R&D, supply chain, and HR.
Firms expect to see significant ROI, with the biggest improvements expected to be in productivity, innovation, and efficiency. These improvements to workflow and development bring their share of challenges, but could have transformative effects on companies.