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Cloud outage fears slow global cloud adoption, survey says

Gina Narcisi

Cloud service outages never fail to make headlines, and this feeds the fears of potential customers. Cloud outage and cloud performance concerns can drive away customers who demand stability and end-to-end availability for important data and applications.

Enterprises are starting to perceive local network carriers and smaller, local cloud providers as more reliable than large, pure-play cloud providers. Alcatel-Lucent's recent global cloud adoption survey of 3,886 enterprises found that enterprises increasingly favor local network carriers' cloud deployments. In Asian markets such as South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong, a plurality of enterprises, ranging from 43% to 46%, said they preferred local network carriers for cloud services; 36% of U.S. enterprises identified local carriers (Verizon and AT&T) as their preferred cloud provider.

Smaller, local providers are thought to offer greater transparency to the end user and clear

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service-level agreements (SLAs) -- unlike large-scale cloud providers like Amazon and Google.

Local cloud providers can mitigate cloud outage concerns by offering customers greater service assurance and guaranteed performance for their cloud environments, noted David Frattura, senior director of cloud solutions for Alcatel-Lucent.

Can cloud providers pacify cloud outage fears?

Service outages plague large, pure-play cloud providers, but there is little that can be done to assure customers that these outages and performance instabilities won't affect business continuity, said Tom Nolle, president of CIMI Corp.

Amazon is the global loser.

David Frattura
Senior Director of Cloud Solutions, Alcatel-Lucent

Cloud providers -- like Amazon and Google -- want customers to see the cloud as a solution for their business. But enterprises aren't leaning towards the large, pure-play cloud model, noted Nolle. If buyers do not understand what cloud strategy is right for their business, and what applications are best suited for the cloud, that can hurt cloud adoption. Nearly every enterprise Alcatel-Lucent surveyed indicated more trust in working with a smaller, local cloud provider who may have a better chance at understanding a customer's specific business needs. 

Working with a local provider is a great way for cloud newcomers to get their feet wet, noted Dave Bartoletti, senior analyst of infrastructure and operations for Forrester Research Inc. "It's the best way to validate that the types of workloads [the customer] is considering for the cloud and let them do it with a trusted advisor and partner."

"The cloud will never be more reliable than the Internet," Nolle said, noting that partnerships between pure-play cloud providers and smaller, local carriers will be more likely to deliver the reliable service and performance that customers demand.

"A carrier with their own network facilities is going to be able to deliver a more dependable and consistent service, so these partnerships will be helpful for large cloud providers in delivering their services." Local cloud providers or network carriers are competing globally with large public providers like Google and Amazon to be the most trusted providers of mission-critical cloud offerings -- and are coming out ahead.

When asked to rank cloud providers by level of trust in cloud performance and follow-through of SLAs, Frattura said that respondents to the Alcatel-Lucent survey consistently ranked local cloud providers higher than Amazon in every region. 

"Amazon is the global loser," Frattura said.

Enterprises want transparency; SLAs must be upheld

Enterprises cited trust as an important purchasing factor for IT services, and are more willing to trust a local carrier or cloud provider with private and hybrid offerings. Cloud outages and service interruptions are unavoidable, but providers can mitigate the damage.

"Transparency is critical to cloud confidence," Bartoletti said. "[Cloud providers] should be honest and upfront about each outage that hits the press: what caused it and what remedial processes have been put in place to make sure it doesn't happen again."

Cloud providers must offer transparent security measures and monitoring tools across the services they provide, noted Laurent Lachel, research director at British technology consultancy Ovum, adding that customers want a "proactive provider."

More on cloud outages:

Amazon cloud outage: Getting realistic about the cloud

Blogging service downplays Rackspace cloud outage

Cloud outage for Salesforce.com

Microsoft Azure cloud outage affects global customers

A quarter of survey respondents said their providers made "no remediation efforts" when their SLAs were breached, which points to a potential opportunity for cloud providers that follow through with such remediation guarantees, Alcatel-Lucent's Frattura noted.

"Most SLAs are related to Quality of Service (QoS) and availability, but if more can be focused on security, [cloud providers] can perhaps gain customer trust," Lachel said.    

Cloud providers should publish clear SLAs and security agreements from the start and follow up with real penalties for breach, noted Bartoletti. "Stand behind your service, and err on the side of overcommunication," he said.

Let us know what you think about the story; email: Gina Narcisi, News Writer.