MIAMI— Enterprises should look for a cloud supplier that provides a product that is highly scalable, automated and elastic, with usage-based billing, Lisa Pierce, managing vice president of the unified communications, network systems and services team at Gartner, advised an audience on Wednesday at the ITExpo show being held here.
In selecting a cloud provider or providers, it is "really important" for enterprises to be specific about their requirements, Pierce said.
Another panelist, Mike McCarthy, vice president of portfolio management for middleware services at IBM (NYSE: IBM) Global Technology Services, noted there is skepticism about the cloud among IT departments, so many enterprises are cautious about cloud adoption, putting less mission-critical applications in the cloud first.
Peder Ulander, vice president of marketing for virtualization and cloud computing at Citrix (Nasdaq: CTXS), said he is seeing a move toward IT-as-a-service, which includes "all the different elements of cloud computing" and a focus on the end user. He cited infrastructure-as-a-service as a popular cloud offering that enables enterprises to get higher operational and cost efficiencies out of virtualized systems.
Skip Chilcott, senior product manager for unified communications with Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT), agreed with McCarthy that enterprises in general are taking a cautious approach to cloud adoption, saying they are "testing the waters" in a number of areas, including email. "The key element is that it has to be done on the terms of the customer. It's not an all-or-nothing proposition," Chilcott observed.
Kiran Bellare, director of marketing for HP (NYSE: HPQ) public cloud services, said it is important for cloud providers to enable enterprises to migrate existing apps to the cloud and offer different options, such as public cloud, private cloud or a hybrid solution.
Roberto De La Mora, senior director of worldwide unified communications solutions marketing at Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO), agreed with Bellare that providers need to leverage current IT investments when it comes to cloud services. He argued that for enterprises "hybrid cloud is the way to go."
The panelists also tackled the controversial topic of security in the cloud. "For everyone who is looking at virtualization and cloud, the question arises, 'How do I secure all this?' Pretty scary," said Pierce. She noted that of companies looking at the cloud, only 50 percent are asking themselves about security issues.
"Security has to be a partnership between the application owner and infrastructure provider… to ensure the right level of security," noted McCarthy.
Ulander advised enterprises to perform risk analysis of the cloud as they would for any other IT function. "Cloud is just another tool in your IT arsenal," he said.
"Security is the table stakes. This is not something as a provider that we can cut corners on," said Chilcott. "But you can't change the culture of an organization. Security is a cultural issue."
Concerns about cloud security have discouraged many enterprises from taking advantage of the cloud. And there is reason for concern. A recent survey by FlyingPenguin and OneLogin found that 71 percent of employees are using cloud apps not approved by their IT department.