“You’re not moving from nirvana, and that’s an important concept to understand,” says Mike Clarke - Head of CIO Advisory Practice, KPMG New Zealand.
Straightforward in delivery but hard-hitting in its relevance and appeal, Clarke’s simplified analysis of Public Cloud migration offers perspective amidst a complex world, a world in which IT managers are watching, waiting and exploring cloud strategies and plans.
Observed during an engaging Computerworld Question Time - The Future of Public Cloud panel discussion in Auckland, Clarke’s comments to IT professionals across New Zealand come at a time when over half of global enterprises are moving towards Public Cloud services, with 54 percent of businesses contributing to a market now poised to reached $133 billion by 2018.
Yet despite adoption growing at a healthy rate, cloud computing in its wider form remains uniquely susceptible to the perils of myths due to the nature, confusion and hype surrounding it.
But as discussed on a panel consisting of Mike Clarke - Head of CIO Advisory Practice, KPMG New Zealand; Kelly McFadzien - Partner, Chapman Tripp and Russell Craig - National Technology Officer, Microsoft New Zealand, such myths hamper progress, impede innovation and induce fear, thus distracting from real progress and outcomes.
While painting the Public Cloud in a wall of positivity would be inaccurate and irresponsible, even with the industry mostly agreed on a formal definition, multiple perspectives and agendas still conspire to mystify the subject ever more.
“I’m of the opinion that cloud consumption is still a relatively new concept, and on the whole the industry is still maturing,” Craig says.
As Craig explains, adoption differs depending on certain segments of the New Zealand economy.
Specific to Microsoft in New Zealand, small-medium businesses are leading the world when it comes to Office 365 adoption, with the company adding one percent market share per month, building on its 15 percent base.
“Or take enterprise as an example,” adds Craig, “we’re seeing rapidly rising rates of adoption from our commercial customers.”
With Government, Craig cites a number of local considerations that many Government agencies are currently working through with regards to policy, alluding to “lots of flux and change” in the market.
“But the direction of travel remains clear,” he qualifies, “from the Government’s perspective in New Zealand, they are adopting more cloud services.”
Backed up by research analyst firm Gartner, Government agencies now believe Public Cloud offers the “scalability, computing power, storage and security” to better enable digital government platforms and meet rising expectations for performance and value.
But Government aside, Craig believes traction is evident across a range of verticals and industries, ranging from financial services, healthcare and manufacturing.
“I think we’re coming to the end of the early adopter phase"
“What is encouraging for New Zealand is that businesses are now possessing a global ambition from day one, and they see cloud as the platform they need to deliver this,” he adds.
“Cloud provides the scale and reach that businesses could otherwise never hope to achieve and that’s an important phenomenon to consider, and explains why cloud is prevalent across all industries.”
Within those sectors sits four types of organisations - as explained by the RightScale State of the Cloud report - allowing IT managers to benchmark cloud progress accordingly.
Are you a Cloud Watcher? Currently developing cloud strategies and plans.
Are you a Cloud Beginner? Working on proof-of-concepts or initial cloud projects.
Are you a Cloud Explorer? Deploying multiple projects and applications in the cloud.
Or are you Cloud Focused? Heavily using cloud infrastructure.
“I think we’re coming to the end of the early adopter phase,” comments Clarke, drawing on seven years experience as CIO of SkyCity in New Zealand. “I think we’re now entering mass adoption.
“Cloud services and toolsets have matured enormously over the past three to four years and the market is flooded with lots of references and examples, both locally and globally.
“Now we’ve got the referenceability factor I think organisations are becoming more open to moving to the cloud sooner. In New Zealand, and overseas, that’s reflected in the growing interest of Public Cloud.”
From large end enterprise players to SMEs, Clarke says cloud adoption is happening irrespective of company size and scale, challenging the misconception that cloud is a big game move, played out at the highest level of business.
Nationwide, SMEs represent around 97 percent of businesses in New Zealand, with almost 70 percent single-worker businesses - spanning every industry in the country.
In capturing the SME cloud momentum on a global scale, BCSG Research shows that nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of small business owners already have an average of three cloud solutions in place - opening the door to new ways of consuming IT.
“SMEs are utilising the software-as-a-service model because it represents easy levels of adoption, compared to platform or infrastructure-as-a-service which is more aligned to enterprise and Government,” Clarke observes. “That’s how SMEs are consuming cloud services.”
From a legal standpoint, McFadzien - who advises large New Zealand and overseas vendors and customers about cloud computing - believes the type of company seeking cloud advice varies, making it impossible to define a cloud type company.
“It’s far and wide,” she admits. “Most businesses seeking legal advice are trying to figure out what, if any, are the legal barriers when moving to the cloud.
“Will moving to cloud impact a particular business or type of application? And if so, what are the key issues?
“But among the questions, privacy and data protection continues to be a key issue from a business perspective in New Zealand, and that also applies across the board.
“For small businesses, there is a need to understand where the issues lie and what risks are involved when moving to the cloud. Businesses want to know from a regulatory perspective, where their risk is sitting.”
With regards to cloud, analysts are united in the belief that one topic dwarfs all others to the point it has become the context for almost everything else: security.
Unsurprisingly, the art of securing the enterprise remains a complex task, and a chief concern for businesses pursing cloud ventures.