Most IT Managers Plan to Adopt Cloud Storage

Fifty-seven percent of CIOs and storage administrators plan to adopt cloud storage -- first for email, then front office applications and finally for backup data -- according to a survey released this week.

The survey, performed by market research firm Storage Strategies NOW (SSG-NOW) and co-sponsored by the Storage Networking Industry Association, was sent out to more than 2,000 end users who had attended Storage Networking World (SNW) trade show in the past. The results were released on Monday at the show here in Santa Clara, Calif.

Of 133 respondents to the survey, most indicated that the adoption of standards will be more key to companies using public cloud services, but not as important to deploying private clouds within their own data centers.

"The security of data stored in the cloud isn't as much of a concern as lack of budget is," said Deni Connor, principal analyst for SSG-NOW.

Asked when they would adopt cloud storage, 27% indicated six months to one year, 22% said they'd already adopted some form of cloud storage, 17% said one year to 18 months, 16% indicated they'd adopt it in the next six months, and 12% said 18 months to two years.

Respondent's answers varied widely when asked what their primary reason was for storing data in the cloud. An even number of respondents (12% and 12%) indicated they wanted to use the cloud as an offsite location for data, and they didn't want to have to build out their own storage infrastructure.

Sixteen percent said they hoped the cloud could reduce their capital and operational expenditures, and 14% hoped it would reduce their total cost of ownership, while another 14% hoped it would increase their business agility.

Asked what the single biggest misconception about the cloud is, 24% of respondents said the cloud model is not proven. Another 33% were split into even 11% thirds, saying the cloud was not reliable, it created vendor lock-in or was difficult to integrate. The remaining respondents said the cloud lacks adequate security (13%); there are no misperceptions (12%); cloud vendors are not yet viable (10%), and the cloud is hard to customize (9%).

Intel's cloud delivers services in minutes

Ajay Chandramouly, director of IT for Intel, said his IT shop began deploying a private/public cloud storage infrastructure in 2006, to increase efficiency, agility, security and availability.

For example, it used to take Intel about three months from the time an end-user requested a new service to the time they got it, Chandramouly said. Since deploying a cloud-based infrastructure, it now takes a matter of hours.

Previously, a user had to submit a request to IT, which then assigned an "engagement manager" who sat down with the user to find out what service they needed and why. Then the engagement manager would analyze what was needed to create the service and the cost.

He or she would then hammer out an agreement with the user, and then register the user with management software and billing tools before the service was created.

Today, users need only their direct manager's approval before going to a Web hosting site at Intel.com to fill out a request form that offers three service levels: small, medium and large.

A small or basic server included 100GB of disk capacity, 2GB of memory and one virtual CPU (vCPU). A medium deployment includes 200GB of storage, 4GB of memory and two vCPUs. A large server offering include 500GB of disk storage, 8GB of memory and four vCPUs.

"Our most valuable resource at Intel is not our factories, or products, but our people," Chandramouly said. "Getting to the place where they didn't have to wait for services was huge."

Currently, through the use of a private cloud, Intel has virtualized 42% of its 75,000 servers in 91 data centers. Its goal is to virtualize 75% of them, while keeping 25% as un-virtualized hardware because they're already being highly utilized or have highly critical apps running on them, Chandramouly said.

As far as determining what applications that are chosen for the private versus public cloud, Chandramouly said the IT team asks four questions:

* Is it confidential?

* Is it mission critical or does a mission critical app integrate with it?

* Is it a differentiating capability?

* Does it require a great deal of network bandwidth?

If the IT staff answers "yes" to any of those questions, the application automatically goes into the private cloud, Chandramouly said. Intel places less mission critical or data sensitive apps, such as HR apps, expense reporting, staffing benefits, and social media application, in the public cloud, he added.

"By building a private cloud, we can deliver on the benefit of a public clouds, such as in raising agility and efficiency, without the risks associated with exposing Intel's sensitive applications and data outside the firewall," Chandramouly said.

More findings from the survey:

* More than a quarter (28%) of the users indicated they manage more than 1 petabyte of storage in their data centers, 17% indicated they manage 100 to 499TB, 14% said they manage 10TB to 99TB, 12% from 500TB to 999TB, 10% from 5TB to 9TB, and 5% said they don't manage any storage.

* Nearly 35% of the respondents said their IT budgets ranged from $1 million to $9 million. Another 15% said their budgets were from $10 million to $24 million, 10% said from $25 million to $49 million, and another 10% said $50 million to $99 million. The remaining respondents indicated their budgets ran from less than $100,00 to $999,000.

Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at Twitter @lucasmearian. His e-mail address is lmearian@computerworld.com.

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