IT is still a long way from meeting execs’ cloud expectations

Gone are the days when IT could feel alone in pushing for technology advances. With the cloud, execs are starting to pay more attention to IT matters, and many IT pros are forced to admit they’re not meeting their own lofty standards. 

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An Economist survey of IT pros’ cloud perceptions finds that many are finding their executives taking an active role in technological matters. Respondents reported their senior management:

  • is strongly concerned about protecting the security and privacy of corporate data (87%)
  • recognizes cloud computing as a high priority for the organization (78%)
  • recognizes the utility of cloud computing, but is concerned about controlling costs (75%), and
  • considers technological inovation to be instrumental for long-term success (72%).

And for the most part, these respondents reported being happy with the cloud computing services. Many were “very satisfied” with the cloud’s privacy and security (41%), cost transparency (36%) and accessibility (34%). Fewer were very satisfied with the vendor report they received (24%).

Bumps in the road

If execs are in fact paying careful attention to the cloud, some might not be too happy with what they’ll find. There were several problems reported by IT pros, and while most were rare, some had serious security implications. Incidents included:

  • significant outages to public or community cloud services (18%)
  • prolonged failure to integrate cloud with existing systems (17%)
  • prolonged failure to integrate private clouds with existing systems (15%)
  • significant private cloud outages (14%)
  • data breaches from the public cloud (12%), and
  • permanent loss of data from community cloud services (12%).

Most rated the fallout from these episodes to be of “limited damage” (55%), but many reported moderate damage (34%) or high damage (9%).

None of these incidents are anything to sneeze at. Permanent loss of data is especially damaging, and although the percentage of IT pros who have witnessed this isn’t huge, it still accounts for about one in every 10 of those who were surveyed. Those odds may not be too well received in risk assessments.

Plenty of blame to go around

IT pros are nothing if not honest. When asked where things went wrong, they were equally likely to point the finger at providers and themselves. The top five primary causes of incidents were:

  1. technical errors on the part of the organization (36%)
  2. commercial (i.e. contractual) errors on the provider’s part (35%)
  3. supplier technical error (29%)
  4. lack of technical skills in the organization (27%), and
  5. suppliers failing to meet requirements (21%).

What you can do now

Companies that are looking to avoid similar problems have a few options. First and foremost, however, is making sure your techs are getting the tools and training they need to be cloud capable (or finding additions to the staff who already have these skills).

Survey respondents also reported that the No. 1 key to avoiding these costly incidents would’ve been to investigate their suppliers’ disaster recovery programs.

This is a crucial step that many miss. Be sure to ask about the measures your suppliers and vendors have in place to prevent data loss and outages. When possible, get reports from them concerning how well they’re meeting their goals.

And remember: Always check the terms in the contracts. Those will determine who will be left to deal with the mess should something go wrong.

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