Participants of a new study consider cloud computing to be a relatively immature service offering and that it will take at least another two years before cloud computing solidly enters growth stage of maturity. The study, conducted by the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) and ISACA to gauge the level of maturity and innovation in the cloud market reveals that business enablers, rather than financial considerations, dominated as the most important factors in making cloud decisions. The least important factor is the ability to reduce the enterprise’s environmental footprint. The combined mean score in the study for business enablement stood at 4.08, while financial performance and environmental considerations stood at 3.50 and 2.67 respectively.

This study was undertaken in the 2nd quarter of 2012 and based on responses garnered by 252 study participants representing a global community of cloud users, service providers, integrators and consultants. When asked to  identify the current level of cloud market maturity they placed only SaaS in the earliest stage of the growth level. Both IaaS and PaaS were positioned at the middle to upper level of market infancy.

The report mentions that for cloud computing to be truly disruptive, it must challenge how enterprises think about technology and information including  how technology can be exploited to achieve better outcomes (revenue & profits). Innovation is about using cloud to work differently, provide new information resources and capabilities for internal knowledge workers, and enable enterprises to strengthen relationships with customers and meet their needs in new and engaging ways. While service and product developers are seen as driving cloud innovation, it is the CIO and IT management who represent the greatest influence on innovation.

Participants in the study pointed out gaining access to new technologies without having to invest in acquiring the technology, providing new and engaging ways of working with and supporting customers, enhancing worker effectiveness and efficiency by providing new tools and service, creating new ideas and bringing them to market more quickly and enabling better outcomes by providing best-in-class tools and capabilities as major outcomes achieved through the use of cloud computing.

For cloud computing to mature and for enterprises to receive the benefits promised, cloud needs to be seen less as a technology issue and more as a business enabler. This will require that executive management gain an understanding and appreciation for cloud and look to cloud as a source of innovation.  Risk related to cloud needs to be addressed at the enterprise and business level rather than as a technical issue.

Complete report can be accessed here.