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After only a few years in the mainstream consciousness, cloud computing and virtualization have become the future of IT. CIOs and IT managers are beginning to understand how to effectively leverage these technologies as they look beyond the hype. Virtualization and private cloud models have been a popular choice for businesses when it comes to reducing overall IT costs and improving agility. And as a recent Tecala survey suggests, this trend will continue to dominate in the next few years as more businesses plan their IT investments in favor of private clouds and virtualization.

Private cloud and virtualization have already gained a strong foothold in the market, but some midsize firms still avoid the technology due to IT security and privacy concerns. Increased demand from different corporate customer segments would force vendors to develop these technologies along models that address these concerns. Some security loopholes might still continue to exist, but that should not prevent midsize firms from embracing trends that promises a significant competitive edge for early adopters.

As reported by CloudTimes, the Tecala survey, conducted among 136 CIOs and IT managers, finds nearly two-thirds of the respondents plan to increase cloud investments in the next 12 months. Almost half report prioritizing their data centers for virtualization and private cloud technology. Twenty-five percent of the respondents said their company has already shifted IT operations to the cloud, and 66 percent said they've moved some IT operations to the cloud. Seventy-eight percent said they could completely shift their IT operations to the cloud while 48 percent said they would still prefer employing a mixed or hybrid cloud solution, and 20 percent plan to shift to private cloud systems that are self-managed--a growing trend within the cloud movement.

Internet as cloudImplications for Midsize IT

These figures suggest cloud computing and virtualization will lead enterprise IT trends next year, and vendors would be making extra efforts to attract investments from corporate customers.

Tecala surveyed IT managers from organizations of various sizes and industry verticals and found most of them plan to increase investments in these technologies. Until recently, large enterprises were the only major contributors in such technology. But as the survey finds, increased investments from firms of all sizes will force vendors to expand cost effective cloud offerings to attract small and midsize firms.

The need for off-premise data centers is now considered more significant in the wake of recent natural disasters such as Hurricane Sandy that caused damages to data centers in the affected areas. There is a chance of losing valuable information held within these damaged data centers unless businesses in the affected area did store it in the cloud off premise, away from the reach of Hurricane Sandy.

The benefits of private clouds and virtual data centers are enticing for businesses willing to spend on such technology. However, IT managers at midsize firms should realize that cloud technology isn't brought in just to run applications or reduce hardware and maintenance cost. In fact, this technology will play a critical role in shaping business strategies if midsize firms want to replicate the success that larger enterprises achieve with their cloud spending.

IT managers at midsize firms should also realize the technology itself is not entirely secure or reliable (think Amazon's multiple power outages). As such, a hybrid environment could be a viable solution; storing critical business information in data centers at disparate locations would help avoid problems that result from natural disasters as well as disruptions in a vendor's offerings. Both the negatives and positives of virtual data centers and private cloud computing have been more evident in the last few months. In order to truly maximize productivity of these solutions, IT managers must approach the investments strategically to ensure the technology works in their favor even during uncertain circumstances.

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. Like us onFacebook. Follow us on Twitter.

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Vijay Nachimuthu

By Vijay Nachimuthu

Vijay Nachimuthu is a Managing Principal of AltaFlux. His blogs mainly focuses on latest cloud technology trends and its impact on enterprises.