CFOs Reluctant to Move Business-Critical Apps into Cloud Environments

Chief executive officers and chief financial officers are concerned with moving business-critical applications into virtual or cloud environments due to challenges including reliability, security, availability and performance, according Symantec's 2011 Virtualisation and Evolution to the Cloud Survey.


The survey is based on more than 3,700 respondents from 35 countries worldwide. 100 respondents from Singapore were involved in this survey.


“With more than 70% of Singaporean organisations contemplating cloud adoption, it’s clear that cloud computing is evoking a major shift within IT – changing from a traditional IT delivery to a service-provider model. Moving to the cloud is a complex evolution for many companies and it is essential that IT and executives are aligned on initiatives,” says Tan Yuh Woei, country manager, Singapore, Symantec.


“Virtualisation is an enabler for private and hybrid clouds. Our survey shows that planning a seamless move is critical to achieving all the simplicity, affordability and efficiency that these environments have to offer.”


Expectations Vs. Reality

Adoption of server virtualisation is widespread, and more than 70 percent of organisations are discussing cloud deployments.  Of the technologies evaluated in the survey, storage virtualisation is the most mature with 53 percent of enterprises implementing.   Private Storage-as-a-Service is the least mature with 30 percent adopting.


Early investments have revealed gaps between expectations and reality which indicate that organisations are still learning what these technologies are capable of and how to overcome the new challenges they bring with them.


Server virtualisation projects were most successful, with only a two percent average gap between expected and realised goals.  The biggest gaps occurred in disaster recovery readiness, server utilisation ratios and scalability.


The report also revealed that the average shortfall in storage virtualisation was 41 percent, with disappointments coming in areas like operating expense, agility and scalability.


Respondents reported an average gap between expected and realised goals of 29 percent with endpoint/desktop virtualisation.  They cited disappointments in application delivery, application compatibility and virtual desktop support.


Seventy-two percent of organisations are considering private Storage-as-a-Service, but these projects are challenging to implement and fall short of expectations by 46 percent.  For example, improving disaster recovery readiness was a goal for 100 percent of respondents, but reached by only 29 percent.


These gaps are a hallmark of early stage markets where expectations are out of step with reality.  As the virtualisation and cloud markets continue to mature, Symantec expects to see those gaps close.


Business-Critical Applications

Organisations investing in virtualisation and hybrid/private cloud technologies tend to follow a similar path, starting by virtualising less critical applications such as test and development environments and progressing to more important applications such as email and collaboration; line of business; eCommerce and supply chain; and ERP/CRM. 


The survey shows that organisations are increasingly leveraging or planning to leverage virtualisation for business-critical applications.  Of enterprises who are implementing virtualisation, 75 percent plan to virtualise database applications in the next 12 months.  60 percent plan to virtualise web applications, and 30 percent plan to virtualise email and calendar applications.  Fifty percent plan to virtualise ERP applications.


The survey also found that organisations are more slowly leveraging hybrid/private cloud technologies for business-critical applications.  An average of just 30 percent of business-critical applications such as ERP, accounting, and CRM are in hybrid/private cloud environments.  Respondents stated concerns over access vulnerabilities, a lack of knowledge about external vendors’ risk profiles, an inability to audit security practices, an inability to meet high availability SLAs, and a lack of control over the entire process.


Quality of Service Challenges

As virtualisation and private cloud technologies become more widely adopted, the cost and performance of storage is becoming increasingly top of mind.  Half of the respondents said storage costs somewhat or significantly increased with server virtualisation.  Of those in the process of virtualising storage, the top reasons for deployment include reducing operating expenses (91 percent), improving disaster recovery readiness (83 percent) and improving IT departments’ overall agility (78 percent).


Seventy-eight percent of enterprises who have implemented server virtualisation indicated that security was a somewhat/extremely large factor in keeping various constituents from being more confident about placing business-critical applications on virtualised servers.  Eighty-one percent listed security as a significant/extreme challenge to implementing server virtualisation.


Performance issues are a factor for the majority of organisations.  Eighty-one percent of those who have implemented server virtualisation stated that performance was a somewhat/extremely large factor in keeping various constituents from being more confident about placing business-critical applications on virtualised servers.  Seventy-five percent of organisations that have implemented hybrid/private clouds cited performance as a significant/extreme challenge.


Among enterprises that have implemented server virtualisation, reliability was the number one concern.  Eighty-four percent said it was a somewhat/extremely large factor in keeping various constituents from being more confident about placing business-critical applications on virtualised servers.  Of those who have implemented storage virtualisation, 84 percent stated uptime and availability as an important goal.


IT and Business Out of Sync

According to the survey findings, 33 percent of CFOs are less than “somewhat open” to moving mission-critical applications to hybrid/private cloud environments.  Seventeen percent of CEOs are cautious about moving these applications. Main concerns about placing business-critical applications in virtualised and hybrid cloud deployments are reliability (84 percent), performance (81 percent), and security (78 percent).


In practice, many C-level concerns are unfounded based on responses from IT.  For example, concerns about performance are a top reason cited for caution, yet more than two-thirds of those who deployed server virtualisation achieved their goals related to performance.





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