Microsoft will not dominate in cloud says industry

The Cloud Industry Forum has launched a code of practice. We talk to chairman Andy Burton on Microsoft’s “brave” cloud model, best practice and business liability.

The organisation, which is launching a code of practice to ensure customers get better transparency from cloud services, has said that the giant’s move into the sector won’t cause ripples.

Andy Burton chairman of CIF and chief executive of Fasthosts, told TechEye: “Microsoft made a brave decision to venture into this market but I don’t think it will dominate it. It’s not an all or nothing world, and there are different cloud services out there. “

Some weren’t online while other companies used a data server, which isn’t the SAAS market Microsoft’s after.

“There’s a lot of big players out there already including Google and Symantec, which all do well alongside each other,” Mr Burton added.

“I don’t believe therefore that one vendor will monopolise the market, smaller companies and bigger ones also look for different services, and Microsoft won’t be able to account for all of these. If anything the SAAS cloud market may see some consolidation of companies but not a monopoly from one provider.”

The CIF is launching a Code of Practice, which is claimed to provide help in making an informed decision on which supplier can offer the best options for a particular business need.

A recent survey found that the perceived lack of confidence in cloud based technology is seen as one of the biggest barriers to adoption.

Of the 100 businesses questioned one third stated that this was the biggest hurdle the industry had to overcome to see mainstream migration to the cloud.  However 69 percent of the same sample said that to overcome this, a Code of Practice would be an important driver in the decision making process in selecting a supplier; 28 percent said it would be essential.

TechEye last month looked at the grey areas in cloud services – which turns out means businesses themselves are liable for any data breaches by cloud service providers.

According to Mr Burton there’s three layers to CIF’s code of practice, which will be launched on 22 November: Transparency, which is showing customers what they are getting with every vendor, objectivity, which shows customers the object behind each service and what they can expect to gain for their business and accountability, which is the ongoing relationship between the vendor and the customer.

“When dealing with a cloud product its the responsibility of the customer/party that subscribes to the service so we want to make it easier for people to understand what they are getting from a vendor,” he said.

“For example, vendor A offers this, while vendor B gives these services. They need to be completely open with what they do so a customer can see if they will benefit from the service.

“Rules of liability change but in the online cloud world its more confusing and complicated so there is a big need for transparency.”

The COP will require vendors to register with CIF and pay a certification fee.

As the forum is a not for profit organisation all funds go to investigating complaints, which can be reported via the website and are judged by 12 people including independent vendors, lawyers and end users.

If a complaint is upheld the vendor is taken off the site and CIF has the right to publish the reasons why it took this decision. If a company wants to reapply CIF says it scrutinises the reasons why it was taken off and looks at its new compliance carefully. Though industries regulating themselves always raise eyebrows.

“It’s a lot harder to get back on the COP,” Mr Burton said.

Other findings by the organisation found  69 percent of business executives felt that the cloud was going to become increasingly important in the next couple of years.

Of those already operating in the cloud 23 percent were using the cloud for backup and disaster recovery; 22 percent for data storage, 22 percent for communications and collaboration, 17 percent for sales and marketing applications and only nine percent for finance and ERP applications.

When looking for a supplier end users are looking for a number of detailed service specifications.

A third look at cost savings, while a fifth want reduced complexity, 27 percent want new functionality and 13 percent look at the speed to market.