The credit crunch is not helping to foster the adoption of cloud computing in the UK, despite the fact that it is seen as an effective way for businesses to minimise capital expenditure and control operational costs.
Recent research from IT consultancy Avanade found that three-quarters of UK businesses that currently use proprietary IT systems believe that the downturn has not spurred their interest in cloud computing.
However, 27 per cent of those already using some form of cloud computing said that the downturn had encouraged them to make greater use of the technology.
The research revealed that this reluctance is less pronounced in other regions, particularly in the US where eight out of 10 IT executives believe that cloud computing can reduce upfront costs and that existing internal IT systems are too expensive.
One of the biggest hindrances to uptake is around trust, with research revealing that the vast majority of executives trust existing internal systems over cloud-based ones owing to fears about security, and loss of control of data and systems.
"The three key benefits for cloud computing are cost saving, immediacy and agility," explained Ian Jordan, general manager for Avanade in the UK and Ireland.
"The problem is not that UK organisations don't believe that cloud computing can reduce upfront costs, but that cost alone is not enough to encourage them to launch into adoption.
"IT directors and business leaders will not take unnecessary risks solely to achieve cost savings. Any change in strategy needs to show definitive evidence of the ability to improve IT performance and capacity in as secure a way as each business demands."
The results of this survey echo the adoption of many fundamental technologies that have become widely used in the workplace, including the internet, email and social networking.
In each case, fear of loss of control and security threatened adoption of the technologies and, while companies recognise that there are inherent security concerns, cloud computing represents a new model for enterprise computing. The technology is also disruptive to users, and can be a major challenge for outsourcers and channel partners that need to redress their entire business and operational model.
Jordan predicted that it will take between five and seven years for cloud computing to firmly alter IT business processes and delivery, but he is confident that it will definitely do so.
"This is not a question of if, but of how quickly businesses can deliver on the avalanche of organisational applications that cloud computing offers," he concluded.
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