Survey Says: Companies Crave Internally Delivered SaaS — Hello, Internal Clouds?

Business on a laptopWhile just 10 percent of U.S. companies have either adopted cloud computing or have immediate plans to do so, Software as a Service is being used by a whopping 68 percent, according to the results of a new cloud computing survey released by business service provider Avanade (PDF) today. Even more interesting: By a ratio of 4:1 (2:1 on a worldwide basis), respondents said they would prefer to have their applications delivered as services from internal platforms. Is SaaS the “killer app” for internal clouds?

Security no doubt plays a role in this preference, but reliability probably does, too. The time companies have lost due to SaaS outages might be less than what they’ve traditionally experienced with in-house systems, but properly architected internal clouds offer inherently greater service availability (and customer service from trusted internal IT staff). Of the 502 respondents, 90 percent of SaaS users would classify their experiences as largely successful –- despite the fact that 30 percent reported experiencing service outage of 10 hours or more. “That says to me,” said Avanade CTO Tyson Hartman, “that even though the issues are out there, the benefit is so clear that either that type of outage is still better than what they were achieving internally, or is tolerable within their business parameters for [those applications].”

Whether or not these internal clouds will get built is another question. By Forrester’s count, only 2 percent of enterprises have deployed them already, a dearth due largely to skepticism over sharing resources company-wide.

Overall, the rate of current cloud adoption is lower than what recent surveys have shown, but they are far higher than other results if SaaS adoption is included. This discrepancy supports my theory (GigaOM Pro, sub. required) that it is best right now to take from cloud-adoption surveys what we can, but not to take them as gospel.

One thing we can take from this survey is that despite IDC’s advice to use the cloud as a recession stopgap, the economic downturn is not driving much cloud adoption. Only 13 percent of Avanade’s respondents said the downturn has helped advance their cloud efforts. Hartman explained this statistic as indicative of an organic coming around to the cloud. “Part of it is just maturity around the industry’s awareness and customer awareness around what’s viable and the value,” he said, “and I think part of it is economically driven.”