Help! Most enterprises turn to consultants when using the cloud

Customers using the cloud overwhelmingly turn to professional service consultants to execute or plan out projects, according to a report from Technology Business Research.

The cloud professional services industry has ballooned internationally from a $5 billion market in 2010 to an estimated $17 billion in 2013, TBRI reports in a study out this week. It could grow to a $30 billion industry by 2018, the researchers added. TBRI is an independent research firm and does not provide cloud integration consulting services.

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TBRI annually surveys 900 enterprise customers of cloud services from organizations with 250 employees or more, half of which had revenues above $1 billion, across North America, Europe and Asia to gauge how cloud services are being consumed. In 2011, an estimated 59% of customers used professional services in deploying their cloud strategy. Last year, the number rose to 74%.

Customers need the most assistance in systems integration of their cloud platform with existing installations, and with the implementation of their cloud strategy, TBRI found. Also interestingly, TBRI found that consultancy usage is highest in the Asia and Pacific Coast region, as opposed to North America and Europe.

The results point to a variety of macro trends related to cloud computing adoption by enterprises. "The cloud is really complex," says Ramunas Svarcas, a senior analyst at the firm. "There is so much to consider when evaluating and planning a deployment, from vendor selection to implementation, it can be somewhat overwhelming." Many users are finding it worthwhile to invest in expertise to assist in the process. The results could point to another macro trend: a skills gap in cloud computing knowledge and implementation. The figures also represent the robust adoption rate of cloud resources and the strong community of professional service and consulting partners available to aid companies in these processes.

As part of the study, TBRI also asked users which consultancies they're using. Perennially, IBM has come up as a vendor of choice for large enterprises for not just consulting but implementation expertise as well. Some customers turn to their infrastructure providers to help implement a broader strategy, so companies like HP, Dell and Fujitsu showed up in the survey. IT service vendors such as Accenture, Deloitte and systems integrators such as Capgemini are sometimes seen as providing more vendor-neutral advice. And finally, in recent years software vendors are increasingly being seen as consultants as well, including SAP and Oracle. "Everyone's becoming more adept and providing services because that's where the market is heading," he says.

Senior Writer Brandon Butler covers cloud computing for Network World and NetworkWorld.com. He can be reached at BButler@nww.com and found on Twitter at @BButlerNWW. Read his Cloud Chronicles here.  

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