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The Cloud Adoption Gap and Other Notes on GigaOM Structure Europe
by Bart Copeland

Bart Copeland, October 16, 2012

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Autumn in Amsterdam is always beautiful. Throw in a cloud conference and you’ve got yourself a really great time! I was honored to have the opportunity to speak at GigaOM Structure Europe and enjoyed many conversations with some of the finest “cloudy” minds in the business. I thought I’d take this opportunity to share some of my thoughts and observations of the goings on at Structure Europe.

The common thread through many of the sessions seemed to be a rapidly increasing level of innovation in cloud technologies coupled with a hesitation or lack of understanding by the enterprise customers.

Harish Rao, CTO of Global Infrastructure Services at Capgemini, posited that there is a big gap between the innovation producers and the innovation consumers – namely enterprises. Mat Ellis, Founder & CEO of Cloudability, raised a similar thought. He thinks that the biggest drag on cloud adoption is people who just don’t understand the technologies and the underlying benefits. This gap and market confusion is mainly due to the fact that these enterprises are consistently bombarded with information, marketing speak, and techno-babble leading to misperceptions and confusion in understanding the space. This results in paralysis and inaction on the part of enterprises and further widens the gulf between them and cutting edge new innovations.

Another concept that is slowing down the cloud adoption process is  “try before you buy" approach. Juergen Urbanski, VP of Cloud Architectures at T-Systems - A division of Deutsche Telekom, noted that this “dip your toe in the water” approach is indicative of the pace and speed at which most enterprises will move to the cloud. It’s an unfamiliar territory and they will go slow and go small until they get used to the temperature.

On the other hand, Werner Vogels, CTO and VP at Amazon, disagrees with the notion that enterprises are timid and hesitant when it comes to the cloud. He believes that CIO's are transforming from cutters to enablers of technology by using cloud solutions and providing more choice.

(On a side note: Werner feels that Europe is actually not behind the US in adopting Cloud, but may be slightly ahead. This is in stark contrast to what was theorized by some of the earlier speakers. This is a topic for another blog post, but an interesting position nonetheless.)

We at ActiveState have certainly encountered both types of enterprises. There are those who have been information bombed into submission while others are invigorated by cutting edge technology solutions. As a result, both have very different approaches when it comes to evaluating innovations. While I think that Stackato is going to play a key role in the cloud computing space, my goal has never been to bully people into choosing it (though obviously I feel it’s the best private PaaS out there!). I want to educate and help organizations figure out what’s best for them now and in the future, instead of selling technology for technology’s sake. After all, innovations on their own don’t mean anything. Only once they’ve allowed organizations to realize true gains in productivity, efficiency, and ROI can their real value be measured. My advice is whether you just want to “dip your toe” or implement fully, just be comfortable and knowledgeable about what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and where you’re going. That way, you’re sure to get there.

Thank you to the GigaOM Structure Europe team for having me out there, I had a great time! I enjoyed many great chats with people and attended some highly thought-provoking sessions. Hopefully we all contributed to raising the level of conversation and moving the cloud market forward.

Some bits and bites:

  • Heard from Ignacio Llorente, Project Director and CEO at OpenNebula C12G Labs. It’s another open source IaaS project joining the likes of CloudStack, Eucalyptus, and OpenStack. It’s going to be interesting watching all of these evolve!
  • Joe Weinman, the emcee at GigaOm Structure Europe, had a great dry humour that I thoroughly enjoyed. I’ll definitely be checking out his new book: http://www.cloudonomics.com
  • I chuckled how Ditlev Bredhal, CEO of OnApp, characterized Amazon as "this bookshop who surprised the entire Internet service provider market.” It was a great line at a highly engrossing panel called "Do Federated Clouds Deliver?".
  • Hotel Okura was a fantastic venue for the event. I highly recommend it!

Bedankt!

- Bart

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Bart Copeland is our CEO and president. He's passionate about ensuring that everyone at ActiveState has a lot of fun while solving complex problems with applications that provide real benefit to our customers. He holds an MBA in Technology Management from the University of Phoenix and a Mechanical Engineering degree from the University of British Columbia.