This Just In: Cloud Computing is Hard, and Takes a Long Time

Cisco Systems has surveyed more than 1,300 IT professionals to determine the top priorities and challenges they face when migrating applications and information to the cloud. Guess what? It's harder, and it takes longer than many thought.

Duh.

Of course, these surveys have a tendency to be self-serving, so it's no surprise that this one concludes that your networks need upgrading before you can move to the cloud. After all, the survey was sponsored by a networking company.

But putting aside the obvious self-promotion, the broader conclusions confirm what many of us have suspected for some time and what anyone considering a cloud migration must understand: It's not easy. Cloud computing is a challenge that takes longer than most organizations have budgeted.

For example, only 5 percent of IT decision makers surveyed have been able to migrate at least half of their total applications to the cloud. I'm not sure it's even that much in the world at large, given what I've seen in my travels. However, the survey states that by 2013, that number is expected to significantly rise, as more than one in five will migrate at least half of their total applications to the cloud.

The survey also captures the difficulty through humor, with conclusions such as, "More than one-quarter said they could train for a marathon or grow a mullet in a shorter period of time than it would take to migrate their company's applications to the cloud" or "nearly one-quarter of IT decision makers said that, over the next six months, they are more likely to see a UFO, a unicorn, or a ghost before they see their company's cloud migration starting and finishing."

The core reason for the difficulty is, of course, the fact that moving to the cloud is a platform-migration problem -- in this case from traditional systems to private and public clouds. IT pros already know migrations are always problematic, especially if you're considering business-critical systems. But why businesses haven't equated cloud migration to every other migration is a mystery, perhaps the result of "silver bullet" sales claims by vendors.

What makes the migration to the cloud even more difficult is the lack of information about the process. Many new cloud users are lost in a sea of hype-driven desire to move to cloud computing, without many proven best practices and metrics.

I suspect we're seeing the start of the pain, but I believe things will improve as we learn how to work through the problems of migrating to the cloud. I've already started growing my mullet.

This article, "This just in: Cloud computing is hard and takes a long time," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of David Linthicum's Cloud Computing blog and track the latest developments in cloud computing at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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