Cloud adoption – The hype versus adoption

Guest blog: R. Brooks Borcherding, President of Cloud Advisory Services, NaviSite

With over 25 years of experience in enterprise sales, marketing, product management and executive management focused on enterprise communications solutions, Mr. Borcherding’s distinguished career includes leadership positions at Avaya, Lucent and AT&T. He started his career as a senior consultant at Andersen Consulting. LinkedIn Profile


Pinned to the wall of my office is a printout of the Technology Adoption Curve, the bell curve made famous by Geoffrey Moore in his book “Crossing the Chasm,” first published in 1991.  On that curve I’ve placed a green star next to where I think businesses are today with respect to the adoption of cloud computing (see below)

The origin of the curve is credited mainly to Everett M. Rogers and his work on the Diffusion Process, which he published in his book “Diffusion of Innovations” in 1962. In his book, Rogers explores how ideas and technologies are adopted by cultures and introduced the concept of Innovators, Early Adopters, the Majority, and Laggards.  I’ve found this to be an amazing concept that has applied to my own personal experiences with VoIP, Collaboration and now Cloud Services.

At the MEF GEN14 conference earlier this week I presented my current view of Cloud Adoption. I stated that we’re still firmly in the “Early Adopter” stage with what I estimate to be < 16% adoption.  I based this on my own perspective, having participated in the early stages of cloud computing over the past four years.  My message:  a very, very small percentage of the total IP workloads around the globe are currently being served by cloud based platforms (private or public).  Yet, there are many different studies indicating that a large majority of companies are already in the process of cloud adoption.  So, who’s right and who’s wrong?  And what’s hype versus reality when it comes to cloud adoption?

A recent survey of more than 800 senior executives, conducted by KPMG Advisory Services, found 81% of those surveyed said their companies were either evaluating cloud services, planned a cloud implementation or had already implemented a cloud strategy.  So the logical question is, “Doesn’t this contradict my view that only a small percentage of workloads have migrated to cloud?”  My response is an unequivocal “no.”  These two seemingly contradictory perspectives are, I believe, completely aligned.

The hype would have you believe that a large majority of corporations, both large and small, have already made the jump to the cloud. They’ve recognized the tremendous benefits of a highly scalable, elastic, resilient and cost effective environment that’s enabled them to align their IT services directly with the needs of their business and transformed IT into a cost effective operational expense.  And I agree that >80% of corporations have already started their journey to the cloud.  But this journey is a marathon, not a sprint, and there are significant barriers to adoption that an IT executive must consider in forging a pragmatic path forward.

The reality is that most companies have only migrated a very small portion of their WORKLOADS onto the cloud.  I put this at <16%, which is logical from the perspective of a CIO that is looking for the best application of an emerging technology that can address an organization’s greatest pain points and/or provide the most immediate returns.  Remember that all CIOs have to account for years and years of investment in the traditional IT services, including massive amounts of capitalized infrastructure (routers, switches, servers, etc.), not to mention highly customized applications that were built to operate in a classic IT construct.  These are burdens that cannot be simply lifted and shifted to public cloud platforms.  So, depending on the situation for each particular business, a different and path toward cloud adoption may have to be charted.  For example, a SaaS provider with an agile software development approach and little capex investment will be incentivized to embrace a cloud infrastructure quickly to enable rapid scale. On the other hand, a hospital with significant investment in legacy technology and strenuous regulatory considerations will need to move forward at a very measured pace.

NaviSite has been delivering a range of cloud services for more than four years.  We’ve been witness to the hype and the reality.  Our recommendation for IT decision makers is to seek a customizable cloud model to meet their unique business needs and challenges.  This will ensure the most effective cloud migration strategy that will help avoid the pitfalls of a rush to cloud adoption. In order to do so, it is important to understand the intricacies of specific legacy systems and decide on a path to the cloud that yields the greatest benefits for their organization in a pragmatic and measured approach.

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