Cloud and SaaS terminology ‘confuses’ Aussie companies

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Cloud and SaaS terminology ‘confuses’ Aussie companies

Around four in five Aussie firms have no plans to use cloud computing in the next 12 months and the few that do appear confused by the terms ‘cloud’ and ‘SaaS’.

The results are from a global study of 500 IT executives by Kelton Research on behalf of systems integrator, Avanade. It covered 17 countries including Australia.

Cloud computing is recognised as an evolution of utility and grid-based IT architectures.

It's essentially a way to outsource parts of an IT infrastructure to a service provider, which provides on-demand access to computing or networking resources over an Internet connection at less than the cost of the customer buying or maintaining the required infrastructure themselves.

Early commercial examples include Amazon EC2.

The study found 80 percent of Australian respondents weren't using cloud-based systems at the time and that 70 percent had no plans to do so this year.

Of the one in five companies that said they used cloud computing, 44 percent said they were increasing their usage.

But critically, 78 percent described their cloud computing use as hosted CRM or ‘collaboration' sites like Wikis.

Others described their use of the cloud as for Hotmail or Gmail or HR services like recruitment management.

Only 44 percent of the one-in-five using cloud computing listed a service that could be recognised as being of the cloud - data storage - prompting iTnews to question whether early adopters had their technologies mixed up.

"There are all these kind of terms thrown in and that confuses people," said Craig Dower, managing director of Avanade Australia.

"Things like SaaS we'd see as enabling technologies that sit inside the cloud rather than being [of] the cloud itself."

But it appears Aussie firms aren't confused about whether or not to jump on the cloud bandwagon.

"[The study] probably says that Australian companies are a bit more conservative with how they view things," Dower said.

Dower said Avanade would examine the results as it looks to create its own strategy for approaching the cloud computing market.

But he all but ruled out setting up a cloud service, instead favouring a "close relationship" with the likes of Microsoft, with whom it currently partners.

He said it was likely Singapore would act as a cloud infrastructure gateway to the Asia Pacific and Australia.

"We often see Singapore as the starting point for the consolidation of infrastructure. It also has powerful Internet interconnections," Dower said.

"But I wouldn't be surprised if major outsourcing companies in Australia also build out infrastructure services themselves."

Dower said that it was a good time for companies to "contemplate" how cloud computing could fit into their IT strategies in the mid- to longer-term.

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