But is a lowering of expectations a sign of a reduction in cloud hype or a failure to deliver the expected benefits?
Cisco’s latest CloudWatch survey has shown a big shift in the acceptance of cloud computing but at the same time suggests many organisations are struggling to see the benefit it can bring.
The headline finding is that cloud is now on the agenda of many more companies than in 2011. 90% of IT decision makers say cloud is now part of their plans, up from just 52% last year. Of this number, 31% consider cloud as being critical and underpinning much of their activity. This figure was just 7% last year.
Of those companies looking at cloud computing, 85% are planning further investment over the next 12 months.
However while this surge in adoption and acceptance is a positive sign for the industry, the survey does perhaps suggest that some companies have lowered their expectations of how cloud can benefit their business.
Respondents were asked in 2011 and again this year what the benefits of using cloud computing were over and above keeping IT in house or using managed services. Ten of the 12 categories dropped this year, with only reduced costs staying level at 57% and improved security rising from 27% last year to 37% this time.
Areas which saw a drop in perceived benefits include easier maintenance (down from 67% to 56%), automatic updates dropped (64% to 48%), rapid deployment (61% to 43%), better control of costs (52% to 43%), ease on integration (44% to 42%) and improved service offered to customers (48% to 40%).
The biggest fall was in improved collaboration/communication, which dropped from 60% to 39%. Flexibility to change suppliers dropped from 45% last year to 37% this time, while increased responsiveness to the needs of the business also fell, from 46% to 33%.
This lowering of expectations could be seen as a sign that the industry is beyond the peak of inflated expectations and that the hype around cloud computing, often pushed by the vendors themselves, has fallen away as more and more companies start to use it.
Ian Foddering, Cisco UK & Ireland CTO, said this section of the survey results show, "a move away from cloud hype. The benefits are still there but now companies are better able to define those benefits define what cloud computing can do for their business."
The survey did ask whether companies that had already invested in cloud computing had seen any benefits. 20% said cloud had exceeded their expectations while half the respondents simply said cloud had met their expectations. Of the remaining respondents, 27% actually said cloud had yet to deliver on the expected commercial and business benefits and the final 3% said that metric is difficult to measure.
The survey also revealed that the perceived barriers to wider industry adoption of cloud computing are falling.
Security, often described as the biggest barrier, fell from 76% of respondents listing it in 2011 to just 52% this time. The other main barriers are similar, with compliance dropping from 58% to 42% and concerns about location of data falling from 64% last year to 39% this year.