Cloud computing has come a long way in just a few short years. When we commissioned our first major research project into the UK Cloud market in 2010, just 48 per cent of organisations had consciously adopted a Cloud service. According to our latest research, that figure today stands at 84 per cent. During this time, Cloud has moved from the edge of the IT estate to its centre, and it is now largely regarded as just another way that we do IT.
And importantly, it is, by and large, delivering the benefits the industry promised it would deliver. We know that 90 per cent of organisations using Cloud are satisfied with it, 70 per cent expect to up their usage over the coming year, and that 56 per cent believe that it has provided them with tangible competitive advantage. Earlier this year the Cloud Industry Forum hosted the UK Cloud Awards and it was clear from the entries that there is a lot to shout about in the UK Cloud industry, with organisations routinely achieving greater levels of flexibility and agility.
But what’s increasingly apparent is that Cloud is but one part of a complex and diverse picture as many businesses come to realise that not everything can, or indeed, should, be moved to the Cloud – at least, not yet. Although more UK businesses than ever have taken to Cloud, the vast majority are a long way from migrating their entire IT estates. Just 15 per cent consider their primary IT model to be Cloud, and around half of businesses cannot foresee a time when they will move all of their IT to the Cloud – instead maintaining a blend of IT delivery models. This is by no means suggests that the interest in Cloud is abating; rather, it points to a shift in the discussion away from Cloud as an abstract term, to what role Cloud technology can play within the broader IT estate to support business objectives.
The transition to Cloud services has, for many, not been as straightforward as expected. Our latest research indicated that complexity of migration was a challenge for 38 per cent of Cloud users, which in turn had a knock-on effect on the rest of the business; one third (33 per cent) noticed a delay in product or service development, and just under three in ten (28 per cent) encountered a loss in employee productivity as a result of the difficulties they experienced.
There may be a case that Cloud Service Providers need to be better at either setting end user expectations or easing the pain of migration to their services. But equally, it’s important that end users equip themselves with enough knowledge about Cloud to be able to manage it and ensure that the Cloud-based services rolled out can support business objectives – 35 per cent felt that they lacked the skills necessary to do this.
And that is one of the reasons why we’ve launched our end user membership scheme. The programme will allow individuals within organisations to maximise the potential of Cloud, become more valuable to their businesses in the process, and enhance their worth in the labour market. The scheme is still in beta stage, though over the coming months we will be introducing a market-recognised and respected accreditation programme and a comprehensive e-learning course, covering everything from the Cloud basics, the legal and regulatory frameworks and Cloud licensing.
The fact is that Cloud is something that can’t be ignored, so having the right skillset is critical. So the question is – Are you prepared to embrace the opportunity?