Cloud Reliability, Security, Performance Still a Concern

CEOs and CFOs are concerned with moving business-critical applications into virtual or cloud environments due to challenges including reliability, security, availability and performance.

This according to Symantec Corp.’s cloud survey, 2011 Virtualization and Evolution to the Cloud Survey, which examined how organizations plan to move business-critical initiatives to virtual and hybrid cloud computing environments.

The survey, which included more than 3,700 respondents from 35 countries worldwide, highlighted topics including server, client, and storage virtualization, storage-as-a-service, and hybrid/private cloud technologies. The results uncover disparities between expectations and reality as enterprises deploy these solutions.

“Cloud computing represents a major shift within IT; changing from a traditional IT delivery to a service-provider model,” said John Magee, VP of Virtualization and Cloud Solutions, in a statement. “Moving to the cloud is a complex evolution for many companies and it’s essential that IT and executives are aligned on initiatives.”

Expectation vs. reality

Early investments have revealed gaps between expectations and reality which indicate that organizations are still learning what these technologies are capable of and how to overcome the new challenges they bring with them.

Adoption of server virtualization is widespread, and more than 75 percent of organizations are discussing private and hybrid cloud deployments. Of the technologies evaluated in the survey, server and storage virtualization are the most mature with 45 and 43 percent of enterprises implementing. Private storage-as-a-service is the least mature with just 36 percent adopting it.

We asked respondents about initial goals in server, storage, and endpoint virtualization; private storage-as-a-service; and hybrid/private cloud. We then asked those who have already implemented which goals they actually achieved. The difference between the two answers revealed an expectation gap:

  • Server virtualization projects were most successful, with only a 4 percent average gap between expected and realized goals.
  • The biggest gaps occurred in scalability, reducing capital expenditures and reducing operating expenditures.
  • The average shortfall in storage virtualization was 33 percent, with disappointments coming in agility, scalability and reducing operating expenditures.
  • Respondents reported an average gap between expected and realized goals of 26 percent with endpoint/desktop virtualization. They cited disappointments in new endpoint deployment, application delivery and application compatibility.
  • At 77 percent, most organizations are considering private storage-as-a-service, but these projects are challenging to implement and fall short of expectations by 37 percent. For example, complexity reduction was a goal for 84 percent of respondents, but reached by only 44 percent.

These gaps are a hallmark of early stage markets where expectations are out of step with reality. As the virtualization and cloud markets continue to mature, we expect to see those gaps close.

Moving toward business-critical

Organizations investing in virtualization and hybrid/private cloud technologies tend to follow a similar path, starting by virtualizing less critical applications such as test and development environments and progressing to more important applications such as email and collaboration; line of business; ecommerce and supply chain; and ERP/CRM.

The survey shows that organizations are leveraging virtualization for business-critical applications. Of enterprises who are implementing virtualization, more than half (59 percent) plan to virtualize database applications in the next 12 months; 55 percent plan to virtualize Web applications; and 47 percent plan to virtualize email and calendar applications. Forty-one percent plan to virtualize ERP applications.

We found that organizations are more slowly leveraging hybrid/private cloud technologies for business-critical applications. An average of just 33 percent of business-critical applications such as ERP, accounting and CRM are in hybrid/private cloud environments. Respondents stated concerns over account, service, or traffic hijacking; authentication vulnerabilities; access vulnerabilities; disaster recovery; and encryption.

Quality of service

As virtualization and private cloud technologies become more widely adopted, the cost and performance of storage is becoming increasingly top of mind. More than half of respondents (56 percent) said storage costs somewhat or significantly increased with server virtualization. Of those in the process of virtualizing storage, the top three reasons for deployment include reducing operating expenses (55 percent), improving storage performance (54 percent), and improving disaster recovery readiness (53 percent).

At 76 percent most enterprises implementing server virtualization indicate that security was a somewhat/extremely large factor in keeping various constituents from being more confident about placing business-critical applications on virtualized servers. Sixty-three percent listed security as a significant/extreme challenge to implementing server virtualization.