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An overwhelming 85% majority of corporate customers will not implement a private or public cloud computing infrastructure in 2009 because of fears that cloud providers may not be able to adequately secure sensitive corporate data. That is a key result of the latest ITIC survey which polled C-level executives and IT managers at 300 corporations worldwide on IT Performance Trends.

The survey yielded several other surprising results on pivotal issues that can have a direct impact on daily network operations as well as long term strategic goals like lowering total cost of ownership (TCO), managing risk and achieving tangible return on investment (ROI). For example, initial responses and subsequent first person customer interviews indicated that IT managers are finding it difficult and challenging to track basic IT performance metrics. Among the most stunning revelations was that 48% of IT departments – nearly half — do not track security performance metrics. Only 43% of businesses have SLA metrics with clients that are discussed and updated yearly and 51% of organizations are unable to quantify the cost of an hour of unplanned downtime.

ITIC partnered with Stratus Technologies in Maynard, MA, a vendor specializing in high availability and fault tolerant hardware and software solutions, to compose the Web-based survey. ITIC conducted this blind, non-vendor and non-product specific survey which polled businesses on a wide range of IT performance-related trends. Besides cloud computing deployment trends and timetables, the survey also queried users on such topics as IT accountability for network performance metrics; the frequency of moderate and severe network outages; SLA agreements; how IT tracks performance metrics; how well IT and upper management collaborate and whether or not IT departments are able to quantify the hourly cost of downtime.

The Web-based survey consisted of multiple choice and essay questions. ITIC analysts also conducted two dozen first person customer interviews to obtain detailed anecdotal data. Respondents ranged from SMBs with 100 users to very large enterprises with over 100,000 end users. Industries represented: academic, advertising, aerospace, banking, communications, consumer products, defense, energy, finance, government, healthcare, insurance, IT services, legal, manufacturing, media and entertainment, telecommunications, transportation, and utilities. The respondents hailed from 19 countries; 85% were based in North America. None of the survey respondents received any remuneration for their participation.

Survey Highlights

The responses across a wide range of survey topics indicate that IT departments are overwhelming pragmatic; their chief focus is on keeping their networks up and running in the face of budget cuts and diminished staff and resources.

Among the other survey highlights:

  • Over four out of 10 organizations — 44% — indicate that management holds IT responsible for meeting defined performance metrics; 31% say that upper management only holds them accountable or voices displeasure when something goes awry and 19% of respondents say their companies do not have formally defined performance metrics.
  • On the subject of how businesses track performance, 28% of respondents indicated they do so by the amount of planned and unplanned downtime experienced by IT; another 24% measure performance according to a specific subset of IT operations and systems; 11% are reactive and monitor performance by the time it takes to recover following a service outage; an additional 11% are proactive, monitoring performance in a continuous, programmed fashion throughout the enterprise. Most alarming however is that more than a fifth of the firms represented – 21% – revealed that they don’t keep track of performance.
  • In another somewhat surprising disclosure, 46% of survey respondents do not have service level agreements (SLAs) in place compared to 43% who do; 11% of respondents were unsure. However, the ITIC survey responses showed that an overwhelming 84% majority of large enterprises with over 3,000 end users do have SLAs in place. However even in those businesses, collaboration and communication among C-level executives and IT departments is poor. Only 16% of survey respondents noted any regular, proactive communications between IT and upper management.
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