So you know you want the cloud…

Migrating to the cloud is like buying a car. You want to know how it handles, its safety record, and its price tag.

At the end of 2013, Microsoft commissioned Forrester Consulting to conduct two pieces of research. The purpose: assess the security and risk posture of potential cloud providers, and examine the potential enterprise return on investment by deploying Azure.

In Enabling The Secure And Rapid Adoption Of Cloud Services, Forrester researched the current and future state of security in cloud environments among North American and European enterprises. This study reveals cloud adoption is accelerating rapidly because the benefits (flexible cost models, rapid implementation, high availability, performance) outweigh many cloud provider security concerns (ability to respond to significant service disruptions, protect sensitive data, and support regulatory compliance).

Given the rapid adoption the enterprise must focus not on inhibiting or preventing adoption—because it’s futile—but on how to support adoption by ensuring the right controls are in place, mitigating risks to an acceptable level.

Key findings:

  • Flexible models, scalability, and lower overall costs continue to drive cloud adoption.
  • Forty percent have moved email to the cloud, and more workloads will follow.
  • When evaluating cloud providers, enterprises focus on network security, data protection, and continuity.
  • IT pros expect some architectural and process changes in security as the result of cloud adoption.
  • For granular data protection, businesses expect to see secure databases and storage.

The second study, The Total Economic Impact Of Microsoft Windows Azure Forrester provides readers with a framework to evaluate the potential financial impact of Microsoft Azure on their organizations. To better know the benefits, costs, and risks associated with an Azure implementation, Forrester interviewed current customers with at least a year of experience.

Prior to Windows Azure, customers had a variety of on-premises solutions, perhaps located in a hosted data center but still fully managed and administered by the organization. This led to a variety of issues, such as: the data center running out of room, missed revenue opportunities because of slow application development or delivery, and IT budgets rising while the company mandated cost savings.

Key findings:

  • Increased revenue through greater sales and faster time-to-market and a more mature and easier-to-use application delivery channel.
  • Cost savings in IT administration and backup processes with virtual machines, storage and backup services.
  • Improved marketing effectiveness and reporting by leveraging app services that communicate with both internal systems and retail partners.

Interviews with six existing customers and subsequent financial analysis found enterprises of similar size had startup costs of about $70,000, followed by annual service and management costs of almost $100,000, versus benefits of around $330,000 per year, plus a one-time first-year benefit of nearly $700,000 in avoided hardware costs.

It might be time for a test drive.