While enterprise-class cloud computing has advanced rapidly in the last few years, reaching a proverbial tipping point in 2013 in the minds of many industry observers, many companies still think about the enterprise cloud incorrectly. As such, cloud service providers and value added resellers need to help enterprises realize that the cloud is not just a replacement for the status quo, as it provides them with a whole new way to think about their IT operations.

According to CIO Journal contributor Irving Wladawsky-Berger, one of the biggest misconceptions surrounding the cloud is that it is primarily to offset IT-related costs. The prevailing notion goes that by offloading the handling and distribution of key resources to a cloud service provider, companies will spend less on IT staff and on maintaining infrastructure. While a quality enterprise cloud solution can help businesses reduce expenditure, this is a limiting vision of the cloud and it fails to capitalize on the technology's true potential.

"Cloud can help companies lower the risks of exploring new revenue streams through new products and services and new channels to market," Wladawsky-Berger wrote. "Over time, cloud can enable all kinds of pay-as-you-go digital services, thus creating entirely new markets, customer segments and business models."

Do enterprise cloud service providers have even bigger problems?
Wladawsky-Berger noted that cloud computing provides unprecedented scalability and flexibility to IT that can dramatically reshape conversations about technology and its role in the enterprise, so long as companies come around to the idea that enterprise-class cloud computing is a totally different beast from legacy IT arrangements, and these realizations are finally coming about because more businesses have a firmer grasp of what the cloud is.

But, while Wladawsky-Berger asserted that companies finally have developed a quality definition of the cloud, a 2013 survey from Webfusion showed that this is far from a given today:

  • Of the approximately 1,000 people polled, 38 percent had little or no idea what the cloud really entailed
  • Only 15.7 percent said scalable hosting across multiple servers constituted cloud computing
  • 34 percent said they were confident they knew what cloud computing was
  • Only 30 percent said that Web-based email was the cloud

Cloud service providers and value-added resellers have their work cut out for them when selling cloud computing, as they often have to tell businesses what exactly the cloud is and how it can help them beyond just lowering IT-related expenditures. But, as cloud adoption rates rise, enterprise-class cloud computing will be able to cut through the misconceptions and become the game-changing technology Wladawsky-Berger said it has the potential to be in 2014 and beyond.