a service of 451 Research,
has released its semi-annual report on cloud computing, which surveyed 100 IT
professionals from February through May of 2013. Peter ffoulkes,
TheInfoPro’s Research Director for Cloud Computing, spoke with TechRepublic
about the non-IT roadblocks discussed in the report. In this second part of the
interview, he talk about how companies need effective change management during
cloud adoption, and also about the vendors that have excited and attracted
participants in the survey.

Key takeaways:

  • Technology problems tend to get solved, but
    people need to be guided through a process of change
  • The people and cycles needed to vet public cloud
    providers is slowing down adoption

  • What people really want is to do their jobs
    well. They need time to learn new things

  • One successful approach to cloud adoption: make
    small, continuous changes, so staff members can adapt

  • VMware CEO: If all enterprise applications go to
    Amazon, we all lose

  • The open source nature and maneuverability of
    OpenStack has respondents’ attention, and addresses concerns about vendor

  • 451 Research uses the word “exciting” in its
    surveys to assess mindshare

Having completed the report, do any of the roadblocks, apart from the response
rates, stand out as particularly challenging at this time?

Peter ffoulkes:
The one that I would say, as we’ve highlighted people and processes, it’s
really change management. Because technology problems tend to get solved, and
as the technology gets more sophisticated, which it is doing, those technology
problems diminish. Two years from now we’ll have a better set of software, a
better set of tools. Therefore, technology and maturity will become less of an
issue. People will have more of a chance to be familiar with it.

The other thing is that typically with a technology problem
once you’ve solved it, it stays solved. But with people, people leave the
company, new people join the company with new ideas, people start out trusting
something and then they stop trusting something. And so “people things” are
hard, and that’s really the big issue. How do you get people to agree and stay
in alignment? It’s much harder to get people to agree than it is to solve
technology problems.

Security concerns restrict or eliminate some potential cloud
candidates. At this point, the due diligence required to vet public cloud
security posture isn’t something we have the cycles for. The issue there being,
I’m responsible for implementing security, I need to have certain assurances in
place so that I can trust whichever public cloud provider I am to work with. It
takes time to go through all of their offerings and ask, do these meet the
minimum requirement or not? And this guy is basically saying, I don’t have the
time, the people and cycles to do that. It’s slowing us down.

Based on your research, does there seem to be a difference in perception of
cloud issues between the C-suite and the IT department? You mentioned earlier
that IT personnel were afraid of losing their jobs.

Peter ffoulkes:
No, I mentioned it because people raised it and I think it’s a minor issue. And
the end of the day, businesses need to change. The world is changing,
businesses need to adapt. And if the staff aren’t willing to adapt, they’ll
probably stop being staff and they’ll get somebody else. But clearly human
beings are often resistant to change. So, it slows things down.

Basic human emotion—it just needs to be overcome. It’s part
of the adaptation process. We’ve been seeing this in technology for a long
period of time. And when change comes along, yes people are concerned about
their jobs. But what they really want is to be able to do their job well.
Therefore, if it’s something new they have to learn about it, they have to test
it, and learn to trust it.

And until they’ve got to that point, they push back. And
once again, it’s a human change management problem.

A guy that participates in our surveys, in the consumer and
retail business, and has one the most advanced cloud systems that I am aware
of, years ahead of the majority. His philosophy is: I change a little thing
every day. If you change everything at once, you get too much pushback and it
unhooks you. But if you change a little bit on regular basis, then people adapt
to it. You make small changes, but you make them all the time.

So he’s got a very good technique for managing it through
the system. Don’t give people more than they can swallow or else they choke.

But not all organizations do that. Some of them come with a
big staff and say, right, we’re doing this—bang! And that will cause a
disruption. People dig in their heels and find ways of making it not work.

TechRepublic: The
press release mentions some big cloud market players, like Microsoft, VMware
and Amazon, as well as OpenStack, which appears to be gaining market traction.
In your interviews, is there anything that stands out regarding what
respondents are saying about OpenStack?

Peter ffoulkes:
Where this comes from, is that we have a question we ask—it’s a very open-ended
approach to this. We don’t try and bias the survey by suggesting things to
people. The question is: what, if any, cloud computing-related vendors,
technologies, or industry initiatives do you find exciting?

We kept it very open, because there are so many things going
on. The ones that topped the answers were, essentially, three very
well-established companies: Microsoft, VMware, and They were
mentioned by 29 percent, 25 percent, and 24 percent of people, respectively.

Microsoft with Windows Server is very well-established,
clearly is widely-used by a large number of people for business-critical
things, and will continue to be so. Windows Server is not under threat, on the
server side. They’re going like gangbusters.

Secondly, they’ve had their Azure cloud service for quite a
long period of time. And, for a lot of people that are using Windows-based
applications, Microsoft has been doing a lot of good work to not only have a
service-infrastructure platform, and good management tools, but also bringing
on those platform-based services, like Office 365.

There are a lot of people using that, and for anybody that
works in the Windows environment, a Microsoft cloud service is a very easy,
natural extension to what they do internally, and sometimes makes very good
economical sense. So people that are in the Microsoft environment like what
they see, in terms of extending the opportunities available to them.

VMware is a little bit different. There’s a lot changing in
the VMware world, but VMware is very much the dominant player in the
virtualization space, server virtualization. And as such, it is still regarded
as the technology leader. Microsoft has been catching up, especially with the
Windows Server 2012, and the Hyper-V that’s associated with that. And we’re
definitely expecting greater adoption of that, especially in the Windows
application areas. But VMware is still the dominant player in that marketplace.

And that also means that as people are moving through their
virtualization journey, they’re moving beyond just basic virtualization into
managed virtualized systems, and also to cloud-based systems. And VMware is
moving forward a with whole new set of offerings with increased focus, beyond
just basic virtualization into the management of production-virtualized
environments which are sort of a precursor to going to cloud.

And also, with their vCloud suite of offerings, most of the
focus of the discussion at VMworld in San Francisco recently was about how
VMware is improving and adding more and more into that environment.

VMware is essentially like Windows, which is a de facto standard but it’s still a
proprietary environment. VMware is much the same thing. And a lot of companies
have a lot of expertise in VMware environments. So if they’re looking at cloud,
naturally if they’re a VMware user they’re going to look at VMware’s cloud

And what’s particularly interesting at the moment is that
VMware, under Pat Gelsinger’s leadership, has really upped the ante to say
we’ve got to compete with Amazon. One of the things he said at the partner
conference earlier in the year is that if all the enterprise applications go to
Amazon, we all lose. So VMware is very strongly building a community of
providers, who offer public cloud services, based on VMware technology.

And once again, that will make it very easy for people who
use VMware as the basis for their virtualized data center to use the same tools
and find an external cloud provider, because that is a smooth transition.

Amazon, on the other hand, is one of the very early and
well-established players in the public cloud marketplace, and it has a fair
amount of invention because of that presence. However, it tends to be a little
more obscure in terms of letting people see what’s going on underneath the hood
of the Amazon environment. Although they’re offering a lot of good services, a
lot of people are saying, I need more visibility.

But there are lots of companies offering all sorts of Amazon
services. Certainly for testing and development it’s very good. We’re beginning
to see things like the FinQloud stuff coming on. Amazon is expanding the specialized
range of its cloud computing offerings.

So, once again, lots of people look at Amazon and say,
they’re relatively inexpensive, and they offer a pretty good service. And as
long as it’s compatible with all of my requirements, then it looks like an
attractive proposition.

All three of those companies are good, but they’re all also
single-vendor-driven initiatives that are essentially proprietary. And a lot of
people don’t want something where they feel like they could be locked in with a
single vendor.

What we’ve seen is that the open source initiative,
multi-vendor initiative OpenStack has been gaining a lot of momentum. And it is
backed of course by major vendors like IBM, HP, Cisco, Rackspace and whole list
of others. The OpenStack initiative is offering a little bit more visibility
and participation. And basically in the same way that Linux became popular—an
open source, Unix-like operation on x86—OpenStack at the cloud level is a
platform that people could look at and have that same kind of open source
security, from a business perspective.

And it’s not only vendors that contribute to the OpenStack
process. End users can as well. If they want a particular function, they can
develop it, submit it to the open source community, and have it adopted as part
of the main theme of OpenStack, which suddenly means that their particular
functional requirements can be available as an IBM-based OpenStack offering, or
a Cisco-based OpenStack offering, or Rackspace or whatever. That effectively
nullifies the risk of vendor lock-in.

And secondly, with a lot of major vendors now backing
OpenStack, putting production environments unto OpenStack, we’re beginning to
get improvement out as a rapidly developing, rapidly adopted, stable
environment, with people like Comcast, Best Buy and others, doing things on top
of OpenStack.

So people are looking at that, saying wow, this should give
me a lot of choice. It gives the vendor protection, and it’s one environment.
Though it’s certainly not true that you would necessarily be able to quickly
change from OpenStack environment to another, it would be relatively
straight-forward to do so because it’s a common environment. And you should be
able to hire people with OpenStack expertise.

We’ll have to wait and see what happens with OpenStack in
the next couple of years. But as that momentum continues it’s currently looking
very promising. And a lot of our respondents are looking at it and saying, I’m
going to look and investigate this.

TechRepublic: Why
did 451 Research choose the word “exciting” for that question in its survey?
You don’t see that very often in IT.

Peter ffoulkes:
(laughs) Right—it is deliberately chosen. In a lot of cases, we’re dealing with
people and saying, what vendors do you have in use? Who might you be
considering? And you’re right, those things are not often exciting, the firms
are risk-averse, they’ve done the due diligence, and now they’ve got in place
what they need, they’re relying on what they think they’ll be able to trust and
so on.

What we’re trying to do in these surveys is not measure
market share. We are trying to look at what the future trends are. It’s really
mindshare. And so one of the ways we can get a bit of an indication of what’s
likely to happen is to ask professionals, what has caught your imagination in
the last 12 months? What have you seen that actually excites you? Whether you
think you’re going to use it or not, what has grabbed your attention?

So that’s the reason for using the word “exciting.” And
that’s to get around the obstacle that you raised, that a lot of stuff in IT
really isn’t exciting. What motivates you to look at something? If something
has caught your attention, you’re probably going to look at it.

TechRepublic readers can visit the 451
Research company site
to learn more about its cloud computing