Article by James Butler, CTO, Trustmarque

By 2020, a ‘no-cloud’ policy will be as rare as[1] the ‘no-internet’ policy is today. In fact, a ‘cloud-first’ approach is becoming increasingly common, with 42% of businesses[2] adopting such a strategy. However, despite the increasing availability and adoption of cloud products and services, many organisations are still experiencing barriers that slow their journey to cloud. Ultimately, adoption of cloud services is not always as straightforward as it is claimed to be and can be complicated by legacy technologies and processes. But as the future of businesses computing, it’s essential that CIOs are able to overcome these barriers to smooth the path to cloud.  

More money, more problems

Today, the number of ways an organisation can pay for cloud has grown considerably; with models including pay-per-user, pay-per-month and pay-as-you-go – through to monthly and annual subscriptions. While flexibility over how to pay is to be welcomed, the myriad choices can actually present a challenge to adoption of cloud in the first place. In research of CIOs conducted by Trustmarque and Vanson Bourne, almost three quarters (72%) of CIOs said the sheer number of ways they can pay for cloud makes selecting the right solution complicated.

Coupled with this issue, is that fact that traditional IT budgeting models have not kept pace with the rapid transformation of business technology. Many organisations have a fixed multi-year budget cycle and IT spend is often allocated on a capex basis – meaning IT investments in infrastructure, platforms and applications are often accounted for as capital expenditure. More than half of CIOs (55%) feel this makes it more difficult, or slows down the speed at which they can adopt subscription-based cloud services.

Paralysed by choice

The cloud market is awash with offerings from vendors and service providers – from data storage and backup, email services, fully- or part-hosted platforms, collaboration services, to managed support services. While this gives CIOs a wealth of choice, actually identifying the right solution from the ‘noise’ can be problematic. More than three quarters of CIOs (77%) agree and are finding it difficult to establish and implement the cloud services most suitable for their organisation. While this result is a slight improvement on figures from 2016 (81%), it clearly indicates this is still a considerable issue for many organisations.

Linked to the fact that selecting the best solution is complicated, CIOs also have mixed views on whether cloud truly delivers the promised benefits. Half (50%) believe cloud only partly delivers on the promised benefits, and just under a fifth (16%) think cloud ‘barely’ delivers, or does not deliver ‘at all’. The potential of cloud in helping organisations transform into digital organisations is huge, but these results show there is still much work for cloud vendors to do when it comes to making clear what the potential benefits of their solution are.

Licensed to confuse

One of the biggest challenges to becoming cloud-first for organisations is how to remain compliant with licensing regulations, while ensuring they optimise license usage. Overcoming this barrier is a significant issue – with a notable 87% of CIOs believing that existing software licensing agreements will delay them moving certain services to the cloud. Clearly, software and cloud vendors have much work to do to help organisations understand how cloud affects software licensing.

Not only is the complexity of software licensing proving difficult to overcome, but the inherent inflexibility of existing licensing agreements is yet another barrier to cloud. Many organisations’ agreed their licensing terms at a time when workforces were larger, budgets were bigger and the vast majority of deployments were on-premise. But in a cloud-first world, licensing has not kept up and does not reflect organisations’ changing IT needs. Just under two thirds of CIOs (59%) said the inflexibility of fixed-term and fixed user/usage on-premise licensing agreements is hindering the speed at which they have been able to move applications to the cloud.

Transitioning to cloud-first

It has taken little time for cloud to become such a disruptive force, and there is little doubt this will continue in the coming years. Already, more than a third (37%) of CIOs say cloud has caused restructuring of their IT operations. Cloud is an exciting trend with potential that is unmatched by legacy technology. However, retaining full visibility and control over the IT estate, along with extensive licence management control across SaaS, IaaS and traditionally licensed solutions, is essential for CIOs. Unmanaged cloud causes unplanned spend, and stops organisations from realising the benefits. The CIO of 2017 must be capable of embracing cloud while minimising unintended consequences, by succeeding in overcoming the existing barriers to cloud adoption.

[1] Gartner, Market Insight: Cloud Computing’s Drive to Digital Business Creates Opportunities for Providers, June 2016

[2] North Bridge, The Future of Cloud Computing: 6th Annual Survey, November 2016

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The full ‘The CIO in 2017’ report can be downloaded here. For more information on how Trustmarque can help your organisation move to the Cloud, see our full list of cloud services here; or contact us on 0845 2101 500, or email us at info@trustmarque.com.