Job security is a key barrier to uptake of cloud computing by IT managers

12 Dec 2012

Report authors Dr Kieran Conboy, senior lecturer, and Dr Lorraine Morgan, lecturer, National University of Ireland Galway

A key barrier to the uptake of cloud computing technologies is reassuring and convincing IS/IT managers that their jobs would not become obsolete if they shifted to the cloud, a major study by Lero involving 170 pages of interview case notes has revealed. It also found that the word ‘cloud’ actually scares some people.

According to Dr Lorraine Morgan and Dr Kieran Conboy, who conducted the Lero research at NUI Galway, the key barriers to cloud assimilation can be grouped across six headings: (i) Perceptions of the term ‘cloud’, (ii) Convincing IS/IT management, (iii) Persuading employees to use cloud systems, (iv) Security and privacy issues, (v) Integration, and (vi) Bandwidth and connectivity.

The study involved detailed qualitative analysis, across cloud service providers and their customers. The study found that cloud computing adoption and routine use has the potential to streamline internal processes and productivity.

While a key barrier is reassuring and convincing IS/IT managers that their jobs would not become obsolete if they shifted to the cloud, there was consensus among the majority of study participants that there will be tremendous opportunities for IS/IT managers if they adjust their skills and capabilities to suit the cloud landscape.

Another challenge to infusing cloud computing across organisations is uncertainty and resistance that may exist among other employees, even senior management. “This is particularly the case if there is a lack of understanding on how it will affect their work. For example, there may be unfounded fears of eventual downsizing even though higher productivity as a result of the cloud can boost company prospects and job security,” said Conboy.

SFI-funded Lero is a global leader in software engineering research and brings together researchers in the University of Limerick, Trinity College Dublin, UCD, DCU, NUI Galway and Dundalk Institute of Technology.

The word ‘cloud’ scares people

The study revealed another significant barrier to cloud adoption is people’s perception of the word ‘cloud’ to the extent it ‘scares some people’, even to the point they fear for the impact on their own jobs.

Several of the study participants mentioned that while people are comfortable ‘banking online, passing around hard drives and USB keys or running the risk of leaving laptops on trains, once the word “cloud” is mentioned, it evokes a negative reaction’. As a result, some providers, when dealing with customers, purposely tend not to talk about ‘cloud’ but refer to a new service delivery model.

The Lero study finds that security and privacy remain a major concern amongst all participants and in particular to the public sector.

However, in the words of one cloud provider, these fears are overstated: “Clients need to examine exactly what they are doing now to see if it is any more secure than what vendors are proposing in relation to cloud technologies. I guarantee it’s not.”

The cloud computing market, whereby business applications are accessed via the internet rather than through on-premise software or servers, is growing rapidly.

According to Gartner, the worldwide market for public cloud services is expected to increase by 19pc to US$109bn in 2012.

Ed Anderson, Gartner cloud forecaster, further predicts cloud computing will grow by more than 100pc to be a US$207bn industry by 2016. In comparison, the overall global IT market is forecast to grow at just 3pc.

The Irish Government has identified cloud computing as one of the key sectors in its 2012 Action Plan for Jobs, which is designed to create 100,000 jobs by 2016.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years