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Maximizing Your Cloud Applications

InformationWeek Analytics polled readers to get their take on the reliability of cloud-based services, from platforms to storage, virtualization, and applications. While just 27% now use cloud services or plan to within 12 months, an additional 25% are evaluating. Forty-eight percent say they have no plans. That seems high, until you consider that in our last major poll on the subject, in July, 65% didn't consider cloud computing a priority. Whether it's the economy, marketing, or the lure of the bandwagon, we're seeing increasing comfort with the cloud concept.

But IT pros are still keenly aware of the risks

"The two biggest weaknesses of cloud computing are reliability and security," says one respondent. "Is the service going to be available 24/7? What happens when the Internet fails in a crisis? If there is a rush on the service, will the service collapse in a political or market crisis? Will our data and other information be compromised? How will we know if it has been compromised?"

No one has all the answers. One thing we do know is that the dearth of standard monitoring metrics, cloud vendors' reluctance to reveal performance statistics, and our own inability to guarantee connectivity quality on the Internet have combined to move performance from a small annoyance to certified nightmare status for organizations that have accelerated their adoption without proper planning.

You may be thinking, folks are reporting good success; if performance was bad, wouldn't we hear about it? Maybe not. Moving apps into the cloud is so darn easy, no one wants to face up to the dark side. There's certainly some Kool-Aid going around among our survey respondents: 33% say cloud-based applications have performed better than their in-house counterparts, and 54% say performance of their cloud-based applications has improved.

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