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Cloud Reliability, Security, Performance Still a Concern

By CIO Update Staff

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CEOs and CFOs are concerned with moving business-critical applications into virtual or cloud environments due to challenges including reliability, security, availability and performance.

This according to Symantec Corp.'s cloud survey, 2011 Virtualization and Evolution to the Cloud Survey, which examined how organizations plan to move business-critical initiatives to virtual and hybrid cloud computing environments.

The survey, which included more than 3,700 respondents from 35 countries worldwide, highlighted topics including server, client, and storage virtualization, storage-as-a-service, and hybrid/private cloud technologies. The results uncover disparities between expectations and reality as enterprises deploy these solutions.

“Cloud computing represents a major shift within IT; changing from a traditional IT delivery to a service-provider model," said John Magee, VP of Virtualization and Cloud Solutions, in a statement. "Moving to the cloud is a complex evolution for many companies and it’s essential that IT and executives are aligned on initiatives.”

Expectation vs. reality

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

Adoption of server virtualization is widespread, and more than 75 percent of organizations are discussing private and hybrid cloud deployments. Of the technologies evaluated in the survey, server and storage virtualization are the most mature with 45 and 43 percent of enterprises implementing. Private storage-as-a-service is the least mature with just 36 percent adopting it.

We asked respondents about initial goals in server, storage, and endpoint virtualization; private storage-as-a-service; and hybrid/private cloud. We then asked those who have already implemented which goals they actually achieved. The difference between the two answers revealed an expectation gap:

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

Moving toward business-critical

Organizations investing in virtualization and hybrid/private cloud technologies tend to follow a similar path, starting by virtualizing 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 organizations are leveraging virtualization for business-critical applications. Of enterprises who are implementing virtualization, more than half (59 percent) plan to virtualize database applications in the next 12 months; 55 percent plan to virtualize Web applications; and 47 percent plan to virtualize email and calendar applications. Forty-one percent plan to virtualize ERP applications.

We found that organizations are more slowly leveraging hybrid/private cloud technologies for business-critical applications. An average of just 33 percent of business-critical applications such as ERP, accounting and CRM are in hybrid/private cloud environments. Respondents stated concerns over account, service, or traffic hijacking; authentication vulnerabilities; access vulnerabilities; disaster recovery; and encryption.

Quality of service

As virtualization and private cloud technologies become more widely adopted, the cost and performance of storage is becoming increasingly top of mind. More than half of respondents (56 percent) said storage costs somewhat or significantly increased with server virtualization. Of those in the process of virtualizing storage, the top three reasons for deployment include reducing operating expenses (55 percent), improving storage performance (54 percent), and improving disaster recovery readiness (53 percent).

At 76 percent most enterprises implementing server virtualization indicate that security was a somewhat/extremely large factor in keeping various constituents from being more confident about placing business-critical applications on virtualized servers. Sixty-three percent listed security as a significant/extreme challenge to implementing server virtualization.

Performance issues are a factor for the majority of organizations, as well. Seventy-six percent of those who have implemented server virtualization stated that performance was a somewhat/extremely large factor in keeping various constituents from being more confident about placing business-critical applications on virtualized servers. Seventy-two percent of organizations that have implemented hybrid/private clouds cited performance as a significant/extreme challenge.

Among enterprises that have implemented server virtualizations, reliability was the No. 1 concern: 78 percent said it was a somewhat/extremely large factor in keeping various constituents from being more confident about placing mission-critical applications on virtualized servers. Of those who have implemented storage virtualization, 83 percent stated uptime and availability as an important goal.

IT and business out of synch

According to the survey findings, 46 percent of CFOs who are implementing hybrid/private clouds are less than “somewhat open” to moving business-critical applications into those environments. Forty-four percent of CEOs are cautious about moving these applications.

Main concerns cited about virtualization and hybrid cloud deployments are reliability (78 percent), security (76 percent), and performance (76 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 78 percent to 85 percent of those who deployed server virtualization achieved their goals related to performance.

Recommendations

Enterprise IT’s evolution to the cloud has its fair share of challenges, but also compelling rewards. Despite concerns, most enterprises are implementing virtualization and moving to a cloud computing future. For these enterprises, Symantec offers recommendations to help make the journey as smooth as possible.

About the survey

Symantec’s 2011Virtualization and Evolution to the Cloud Survey is the result of research conducted in April 2011 by Applied Research, which surveyed IT and C-level professionals responsible for computers, networks and technology resources at small, medium, and large enterprises (defined as 1,000-2,400, 2,500-4,999, and 5,000+ employees). The report was designed to gauge how organizations plan to move mission-critical initiatives to virtual and hybrid cloud computing environments. The survey included more than 3,700 respondents from 35 countries in North America, EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa), Asia Pacific and Latin America.