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Monday, 04 June 2012 15:16

Cloud services not up to scratch for IT managers

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Concerns about the stability, response time and end-to-end availability of public cloud services are holding back uptake by enterprise IT departments, according to a survey.

In the survey, commissioned by Alcatel-Lucent and undertaken by Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates, IT decision makers identified performance as the most important aspect of cloud solutions needing improvement. Other top concerns cited were security, cost and ease of use.

The survey  interviewed 3,886 IT decision makers at medium- and large-sized multinational technology firms in the US, UK, France, India, South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

Respondents were required to be in an organisation with at least 100 employees, be at least a contributor to both enterprise and departmental IT decisions, as well as having budget authority. They were also required to be at least somewhat familiar with cloud, and have an active role in the cloud purchasing or implementation process.

According to Alcatel-Lucent: "While the study reveals rapid adoption of cloud services by major enterprises across a variety of market sectors, it also points to shortcomings in today's public cloud services, led by risks related to availability and quality of service. Two thirds of IT decision makers don't use the cloud for their essential business applications for fear of service outages.

"Forty six percent of those surveyed find current cloud service system delays unacceptable. One in four complained that there's no simple resolution path when service level agreements (SLAs) are not met. Two out of five IT decision makers reported either frequent or lengthy service outages."

Not surprisingly, "The reluctance to embrace the cloud was highest in finance, insurance, healthcare and government sectors."

On a more positive note, Alcatel-Lucent said: "Forty four percent of the IT departments surveyed are optimistic that the weaknesses in today's cloud services will be resolved and expect to expand the use of cloud services over the next three years.

Alcatel-Lucent is heavily promoting the idea that the huge success of 'cloud' companies such as Google and 'device' companies such as Apple is critically dependent upon the features and performance of communications networks, and it bemoans the fact that such providers, and their key suppliers such as Alcatel-Lucent, are undervalued by financial markets.

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It's entire strategy  is focussed on developing the tools it believes communications service providers need to assert what it sees as their rightful ranking in the communications value chain. So, not surprisingly the results of the survey re-inforce this view.

"Trust was cited as one of the most important purchasing factors for IT decision makers in all market sectors," Alcatel-Lucent said. "The study found that the dominant network service providers generally fared better than Amazon and Google as a trusted source of cloud services."

It added: "Enterprises currently rely upon communications service providers for business communication services which are routinely backed up by guaranteed SLAs. Those established relationships and history of demonstrated performance put communications service providers in a prime position to improve the quality and reliability of enterprise cloud services."

And, it says, the market is ready to give service providers their due. "The study revealed that IT decision makers in all regions are willing to pay for a next-generation, high-performance cloud solution. In fact, a carrier-grade cloud service is four times more attractive to IT decision makers and has the potential to generate ten times more revenue than existing cloud services."

However, it adds that: "To fully capitalise on this opportunity, service providers must offer an easy to use cloud solution that can support complex network configurations, VPN and other services, as well as guarantee bandwidth and speed of delivery."

Alcatel-Lucent's offering to address this issue is CloudBand, launched in November 2011. It is billed as "a solution for carrier cloud market that combines the computing power and flexibility of the cloud with the high performance, reliability and security of communications networks."

According to Alcatel-Lucent, "By enabling the network's dynamic orchestration and provisioning of carrier cloud services, CloudBand allows service providers to deliver applications with increased speed, greater bandwidth control and guaranteed quality of service.

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