Growing Numbers of Cloud Apps Still Face Performance Challenge
Are IT teams equipped to fully embrace cloud apps and services?
August 27, 2014

Patrick Carey
Exoprise

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The good news - Cloud apps and services continue to gain traction in enterprises with both business users and IT departments. The trend is being driven by much more than cost savings too.

The bad - Big obstacles still remain including a lack of confidence about service performance and availability, a lack of management tools and continuing concerns about data security.

These observations come from a recent survey of over 200 business executives and IT managers in North America to better understand their current and planned use of cloud-based applications and services, the drivers behind cloud adoption, and the obstacles that stand in their way. Some of the highlights include:

Both Businesses and IT Teams Plan to Use Cloud Apps

Both business and IT users surveyed indicated a major role for both Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS) models in their future IT plans. To date, much of the usage of cloud apps has been driven by business users.

IaaS Dominates Today, But SaaS Adoption is Catching Up

While IaaS offerings like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure represent a larger share of the cloud pie today, SaaS offerings are gaining ground. This includes expanding the use of established SaaS applications like Salesforce.com as well as deploying newer offerings such as Microsoft Office 365, Google Apps and Dropbox as core applications for most employees.

Cloud Use is Being Driven by More Than Cost Savings

The CapEx and OpEx benefits of cloud services are clearly understood and well documented, but adoption today is being driven by the operational agility and flexibility advantages more so than the cost benefits. The ability to deploy new services quickly and reconfigure them easily as the needs of the business change is becoming critical.

As Cloud Adoption Gains, IT Roles and Responsibilities Shift

The requirements in a cloud-based environment shift from managing apps and supporting infrastructure to coordinating and ensuring the availability of the services business users need to do their jobs. The challenge is how to manage and assure app service levels and data security for users when they don't have the same control over cloud-based services that they have over on-premise applications.

Security Concerns and Lack of IT Visibility Hamper Adoption

The biggest obstacles to cloud adoption are security concerns and a lack of confidence in app/service performance and availability. Related to this, over 40% of respondents indicate that their IT team has no tools to monitor and manage their cloud apps. Just 17% of respondents feel like their existing tools do a good job managing and monitoring their cloud-based apps.

What Should We Take From This?

It's no surprise that data security remains a primary concern with cloud deployments. Although the major service providers implement security measures that are more sophisticated than those in place within most business datacenters, businesses remain wary of the risks of storing their sensitive data in the cloud.

What may be surprising to the readers of APMdigest is the concern over cloud app performance and availability and the lack of good cloud management tools.

IT teams adopting cloud apps often find themselves in a challenging position today. Their users and business management still look to them to "own" application availability and performance even though they no longer own the application hosting environment. Unfortunately, the tools they use to manage their on-premise applications don't give them the same visibility and control in the cloud. This issue is further highlighted by the fact that nearly two-thirds of respondents indicate that their IT team either has no tools to monitor and manage their cloud apps or they simply rely on whatever health dashboard is available from their cloud service providers.

This data suggests a significant gap in systems management. Traditional tools, which have relied on direct access to servers, network equipment, log files, and APIs, are unable to effectively support cloud apps and services that do not expose those interfaces. Network management tools address part of the problem by focusing on network health, but they too are often limited in their visibility outside the company firewall and generally unable to provide insight into application/service health.

When asked how well the tools they use today address their cloud app monitoring and management needs, over 75% of the respondents indicated that they are at best, ambivalent about the tools. And more respondents feel their tools are not up to the task than feel they are.

Most mature systems management and monitoring solutions on the market today have evolved alongside the on-premise applications, operating systems, server and network infrastructure they have been used to manage. Organizations are now realizing how profoundly a cloud-centric IT architecture differs from their legacy on-premise architectures and with that how different their management and monitoring needs will be going forward. This is the key to driving cloud adoption in the enterprise and enabling businesses to take full advantage of all it has to offer.

Patrick Carey is VP Product Management & Marketing at Exoprise.

Patrick leads product management and marketing for Exoprise (www.exoprise.com) a provider of Crowd Powered performance monitoring solutions for enterprise SaaS applications like Office 365, Salesforce.com, Box and others. He has over 20 years of experience delivering software solutions to both enterprises and service providers.
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