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Benefits of cloud: Channel partners should note the changing patterns

A newly published report from Clutch, a business-to-business market researcher, shows that the perceived benefits of cloud computing have changed dramatically over the past decade.

The report polled 300 IT professionals who use a full-service cloud computing platform and found increased efficiency and security (!) as the top two benefits. Cost was well down the benefits-of-cloud list, in eighth place. The Clutch results represent a nearly complete inversion of the early thinking on clouds, when cost savings were considered the key driver for adoption and security was a barrier, not a bonus.

“In the past few years, cloud security has transformed from a concern to a benefit, as more companies realize that cloud vendors have the resources to monitor the cloud system and react quickly to security threats,” said Sarah Patrick, an analyst at Clutch, which is based in Washington, D.C. “Cost definitely is a core benefit of cloud computing, but I think cloud security is what IT departments think about the most when working with cloud infrastructure.”

Clutch will have more to say on security and enterprise cloud computing later this month when it plans to release a follow-up report on that topic.

In the meantime, Clutch’s findings on the benefits of cloud provide more evidence of the technology’s maturation. Earlier this month, IDC issued a report noting that 70% of small businesses and 90% of mid-sized businesses have adopted cloud. The Clutch report surveyed IT personnel at medium and large enterprises.

The upshot for channel partners: Most of your customers and prospects are doing business in the cloud so you need to be there, too. But building cloud expertise is more than just a defensive measure. The Clutch report points to the cloud as a growth area. The majority of the enterprises polled said they plan to increase cloud spending by as much as 50% in 2016. Clutch said 30% of the respondents will maintain current spending levels and 6% will cut the cloud budget this year.

“This spending pattern indicates a growth opportunity for cloud service providers in the enterprise market,” Clutch stated.

Where might channel partners find that opportunity? File storage ranked as the highest priority for enterprise cloud usage in the Clutch survey, followed by backup and disaster recovery, application deployment, and application development and testing.

That ranking also points to a shift in the cloud pattern. Development and test environments were among the first cloud use cases, but now file storage — perhaps propelled by the adoption of file sync and share offerings — is on the rise.

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