Search this Blog:
IDC eXchange Home

New IDC IT Cloud Services Survey: Top Benefits and Challenges

Posted by Frank Gens on December 15th, 2009

cloud_surveyThis year’s IDC IT cloud services survey reveals many of the same perceptions about cloud benefits and challenges as seen in last year’s survey.  But there are a few interesting  shifts this year, driven largely by: 1) budget pressure from the challenging economy, and 2) a growing sophistication in users’ understanding of cloud services.

This year’s survey was fielded, like last year’s, from the IDC Enterprise Panel of IT executives and their line-of-business (LOB) colleagues.  The respondent population is very similar to that of last year’s survey, validating comparisons with last year’s results.

Economics and Adoption Speed Still Top Benefits; Standardization Moves Up

This year’s survey shows, once again, that economic benefits are key drivers of IT cloud services adoption. Three of the top five benefits were about perceived cost advantages of the cloud model: pay for use (#1), payments streamed with use (#3) and shift of IT headcount and costs to the service provider (#5).

IDC Cloud Survey 2009 Benefits


While pay-for-use slightly edged out last year’s #1 – easy/fast to deploy – these two are essentially in a tie for #1. It’s pretty safe to ascribe the slight edge for pay-for-use to the enormous pressure that the Great Recession has put on IT budgets, and the consequent increased focus on cloud economics in the minds of customers.  But it’s still clear that speed/simplicity of adoption remains a key driver of demand for cloud services.

One benefit that moved up the list from last year’s survey – from #6 to #4 – was the cloud model’s ability to “encourage standard systems”.  This upward movement reflects a growing sophistication in users’ understanding of the cloud services model, and how it can apply to their environment.  One of the largest sources of IT complexity and cost is the huge sprawl of distinct, yet functionally redundant, systems and applications in most organizations.  It’s an open secret that the lack of standardization – of things that could, and should, be standardized – is perhaps the number one brake on IT’s ability to respond quickly and efficiently to businesses’ changing needs.  Cloud services – by definition – are built on the premise of standard, shared systems.  This survey finding suggests that IT executives increasingly see, and will promote, standardization as an additional – and important – justification for migrating to both public and private cloud offerings.

Security, Availability and Performance Still Lead Challenges;  Cost and Lock-In Worries Rise

This year’s top three IT cloud services challenges – security, availability and performance – also topped last year’s challenges list.  Security is #1 again, and thus remains the top opportunity for IT suppliers to tackle as they position themselves as market leaders in the cloud era.



Availability and performance were tied at  #2 last year, and are in the same dead heat again this year.  I wrap these two together under a label of “dependability”.  This survey result is a clear call for suppliers to offer service level agreements, and – more important – service level assurance.  Consequently – as we noted in IDC Predictions 2010 – look for lots of traditional IT suppliers to charge more forcefully into the cloud services business in 2010, with a focus on “enterprise-grade” IT cloud services.

The next two challenges represent very interesting shifts from last year’s survey.  At #4, users’ concerns that the cloud model will actually cost them more, rose from #6 in last year’s survey.  Cost worries may seem counterintuitive, given that economics show up very strongly on the “benefits” side of the ledger, but the reason is simple.  Smart IT executives to ask: “what if my end-users, enabled by the cloud model’s self-service provisioning capabilities, use more than I (or they) have budgeted for?”  This concern opens up an excellent opportunity for suppliers to introduce services/solutions that help customers better anticipate, monitor and manage the real demands (and costs) of cloud services offerings.

Appearing at #5 on the challenges list is “lack of interoperability standards”.  We didn’t offer this as a choice in last year’s survey, but it’s an issue we’ve certainly been hearing a lot more about this year. Customers are wondering whether choosing cloud services will lead to the same kind of lock-in they’ve endured for decades, or whether standards will give them greater freedom of action in the cloud era. Interestingly, this concern about cloud standards is echoed in challenges #6 (bringing back in-house may be difficult) and #7 (hard to integrate with in-house IT).  Even though standards cut against the grain of many leading suppliers’ traditional strategies (at least when it comes to standards that impact their core offerings), this survey suggests that suppliers who take a more aggressive and customer-friendly stance toward cloud standards may be able to grab larger market share at this important “crossing the chasm” stage of the cloud market.

Solving Challenges Will Define Cloud Market Leadership

Besides the specific points we’ve already discussed, there are two other important takeaways from this survey.

First, take a look again at the Benefits and Challenges charts above, and notice the percentage of respondents citing each benefit and challenge.  You’ll see that there are a higher percentage of respondents identifying challenges than  benefits.  The midpoint of the benefits sits around 65%, while for the challenges it’s 81%.  This doesn’t diminish the strong benefits users see in the cloud model; but it does suggest that the hurdles loom just a bit larger in users’ minds, slowing their adoption of IT cloud services.

And that takes us to the second, and concluding, takeaway:  given the very positive benefits users see in the cloud model, it’s obvious that IT suppliers who most directly and effectively mitigate the cloud adoption challenges will be strongly positioned to take market share as the all-important “early majority” customers expand to the cloud. If I were an aspiring cloud services supplier, I’d be putting the “challenges” chart on my wall, and developing and rolling out offerings that start at the top (security), and move right down the list.

Bookmark this blog post:

  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Live
  • Slashdot
  • SphereIt
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • YahooMyWeb

21 Responses to “New IDC IT Cloud Services Survey: Top Benefits and Challenges”

Frank, I anticipate that in 2010 we will see more emphasis on business agility — in particular, increased demand from line-of-business executives for “just-in-time IT” infrastructure requirements.

Savvy business leaders no longer accept excuses for ICT deployment delays that negatively impact enterprise competitiveness. IT service provisioning must move at the speed of 21st century business.

IMHO, managed cloud service providers would be wise to highlight their ability to be responsive to needs, and provide customer references that will validate those performance claims.

David Deans
Business Technology Roundtable

[...] Die ganze Studie ist hier zu finden. [...]

Personally, I would just like to commend you for actively tracking the opinions of those that matter. Making these intricate decisions without the benefit of this knowledge would be tantamount to business suicide. Well done.

BTW, security would be at the top of my worries, as well.

[...] año IDC presenta los resultados de la encuesta anual realizada a usuarios de cloud computing. La encuesta  realizada a un total de 263 empresas, revela un ranking de los beneficios que los usuarios [...]

[...] Die vollständigen Ergebnisse der Studie finden sich hier. [...]

[...] IDC Publishes Cloud Services Benefits and Challenges Published 2009/12/17 Data Integration in the Cloud , cloud computing Leave a Comment Tags: cloud benefits, cloud challenges, Cloud integration, cloud platform, cloud services, IDC, Informatica Cloud Two charts that will no doubt appear in many ISV and IT PowerPoint slides in the coming months were published this week by IDC:  New IDC IT Cloud Services Survey: Top Benefits and Challenges. [...]

[...] Pro Tweets RT @gevaperry: New IDC #cloud survey. Interesting results < Nod. Beaker – Fri 18 Dec 23:41 0 votes All Things [...]

[...] And a lot of potential customers seem to be picking up on the SaaS-is-cheaper-and-easier message. A recent IDC survey of 263 executives asked which benefits were most identified with the cloud model. The largest group [...]

[...] Home IDC eXchange Home « New IDC IT Cloud Services Survey: Top Benefits and Challenges [...]

[...] einer aktuellen IDC-Umfrage ist für Unternehmen die verbrauchsabhängige Abrechnung die attraktivste Eigenschaft von [...]

[...] According to IDC’s survey research, security, availability, and performance are the primary barriers to success in the cloud. But from my experience, internal politics can often be a much bigger hurdle to get over. I  find that there are generally three common scenarios when it comes to the IT dynamic, roles, and responsibilities: [...]

Dear Frank,
I am writing my MBA dissertation on cloud computing and this information would be extremely helpful.

Would it be possible to obtain the full document?

I will of course provide all the appropriate references and acknowledgements.

Many thanks, in advance.
Shaun Askey

[...] a lot of about security in the cloud, a study released late last year by the market research firm IDC listed “performance” as one of IT’s major concerns, ahead of cost and vendor [...]

[...] a lot of about security in the cloud, a study released late last year by the market research firm IDC listed “performance” as one of IT’s major concerns, ahead of cost and vendor [...]

[...] enterprise buyers have had about cloud computing, as indicated from the chart of the responses to a survey conducted by IDC in Q3 of [...]

[...] IDC’s IT Cloud Services Survey: Top Benefits and Challenges. by IDC -December 2009 [...]

[...] breaches are a fact of life in the IT industry and security, with respect to IT, is often ranked as a top reason to be concerned about the move to the cloud.  The survey results below are an [...]

[...] is that it has allowed companies a means to standardize how their employees utilize technology. A lack of standardization leads to the use of “distinct, yet functionally redundant, systems and applications” within [...]

Firstly, I would just like to tell you that this is an insightful article. Discussing the pros and cons of Cloud services are very much timely most especially that many from the digital workplace setup are transitioning to Cloud from an on-premise setup. True indeed that many appreciate the benefits they can get from Cloud and that security, still, is the top concern of many SaaS users. Good thing though that there are SaaS support teams (e.g. Lirik – and “fraud detection and prevention services” which are actually good countermeasures against privacy and security glitches among Saas/Cloud users.

I most usually dont post in blogs but your Blog made me, beautiful writing. just unbelievable! The content are different but your Blog and Check Free Credit Score Blog are both the best I have read to this day. Keep up the good work!!

Cloud Services | Alliance Pro – Consulting Services, Office 365 & Windows Azure

Post a Comment

About IDC | Contact IDC | Privacy Policy | Site Index | Reprints | Worldwide Offices | Objectivity
Copyright 2005 IDC. Reproduction is forbidden unless authorized. All rights reserved. Trademarks | Terms of Use