The economic downturn may have dominated the agenda for much of 2009 but it was also the year the cloud was seeded, according to analyst firm IDC.
At its Powering the Enterprise Cloud Conference in Sydney, IDC research manager, Matthew Oostveen, said the retrospective view of this year for IT managers and CIOs won't necessarily be focussed on the global financial crisis.
"It won't be the economy that we think of, it will actually be the year the cloud was seeded," Oostveen said.
The analyst also laid out IDC's view of cloud computing and noted many IT departments are being stretched by having to continue to provide increasing functionality for line of business requests while also reducing costs.
As a result at the top of the priorities list of Australian CIOs is spending less on servers and storage, followed by the postponing of plans to build or redesiging data centres. The third top priority is investing in consolidation and virtualisation.
"I think it is interesting we see postponing plans to redesign or build a new datacentre as being the second most important issue in IT today," he said, adding many of Australia's data centres were old and often struggling to find more space.
These priorities, among others, are driving the interest in cloud computing. A recent survey conducted by IDC found the top reason CIOs like cloud computing is it is easy and fast to deploy. This was followed by paying only for what you use and then gaining access to the latest functionality.
"It stands to reason SMBs are looking to cloud services to enable them to keep up and compete with larger organisations," Oostveen noted when presenting the results.
However, there were several reasons CIOs were not migrating to the cloud also - 22 per cent said the cloud was too immature at this point to judge while 25 per cent described it as an "interesting concept", indicating it was not yet a legitimate option.
In particular concerns around security, performance, availability, and regulatory compliance were key reasons some companies did not want to move to the cloud.
For those that are investigating a cloud migration, Oostveen said there were three key areas that needed to be considered: consolidation; strategic virtualisation (using it for more than just consolidating servers); and application prioritisation.
"Some CIOs tell me they have hundreds if not thousands of applications in their suite and this presents a nightmare if they are going to migrate to a cloud model," he said, adding not every application would be a candidate for the cloud right away.
At present, the main workloads CIOs are putting in the cloud are IT managment apps (39.3 per cent) and collaborative apps (46.3 per cent). In contrast, storage and server capacity were ranked the lowest workloads being put in the cloud as there are many apps sill needed in house.
Yet, while acknowledging the relative immaturity of the cloud model, Oostveen said there were many businesses evaluating a cloud style delivery for competitive advantage reasons.
"We need to lay down a track of foundation and move our IT departments more closely at this kind of delivery as your competitors will be closely looking at this model," he said. "Doing nothing is not an option."