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Campus IT Plans for Increased Cloud Adoption

American colleges and universities are expanding their adoption of cloud technologies. According to new research released Thursday, higher education institutions will spend about a quarter of their IT budgets on the cloud within five years.

Higher Education Cloud Adoption Trends
The research, "CDW-G 2011 Cloud Computing Tracking Poll," conducted by O'Keeffe & Co. on behalf of CDW-G, found that the vast majority of higher education institutions are using some form of cloud technology, though most don't seem to know it. In fact, only a third of respondents to the survey conducted for the report--34 percent--identified their institutions as cloud adopters. But a full 82 percent reported that their institutions use one or more technologies that are based in the cloud, including:

  • Google Docs: 50 percent;
  • Gmail: 50 percent;
  • Microsoft Office Live Meeting: 22 percent; and
  • Salesforce: 2 percent.

Twenty-nine percent of colleges and universities indicated they currently have a written plan in place for adopting cloud computing. Thirty-two percent are currently in the "discovery phase" of cloud adoption, while 29 percent are in the planning stage, according the the research. Only 5 percent indicated outright that they are not considering adopting some form of cloud computing technology.

Higher ed respondents also said that within two years 15 percent of their IT budgets will be spent on cloud-based technologies. That figure will increase to 24 percent in five years.

At the same time, respondents said they expect to see a 12 percent savings from cloud adoption in two years and as much as 20 percent in five years. In fact, of those higher ed participants who reported already adopting cloud technologies, 76 percent said that they have already successfully reduced costs by doing so. The average reported savings was 21 percent in higher ed.

The research is part of CDW-G's ongoing series of tracking polls spanning a range of topics in information technology, including unified communications, operating systems, and cloud computing.

The Cloud Computing Tracking Poll surveyed organizations in March 2011 across a range of sectors, including 150 in K-12 and 150 in higher education. All participants identified themselves as IT staffers or leaders, including CIOs (11 percent), CTOs (7 percent), directors (36 percent), supervisors (34 percent), and systems engineers (12 percent). For the higher ed survey, 88 percent of the organizations polled were four-year institutions, 9 percent community colleges, 3 percent other. Sixty-nine percent of participants were public institutions. There is a margin of error of 8 percent for sector-specific statistics and 2.7 percent for cross-sector data.

Cross-Sector Cloud Trends
Cloud adoption is making similar strides across all sectors. Large businesses and higher education are currently leading adoption at 37 percent and 34 percent, respectively. The average across all sectors was 27.75 percent. But, as with education, most respondents indicated they currently use some form of cloud technology in their operations. In fact, only 15.88 percent reported that they do not use Google, Microsoft, or other cloud-based tools.

According to the research, the most popular categories for cloud applications among adopters include:

  • E-mail: 50 percent;
  • File storage: 39 percent;
  • Web conferencing: 36 percent;
  • Online learning: 34 percent; and
  • Videoconferencing: 32 percent.

"Many organizations are carefully--and selectively--moving into cloud computing, as well they should, because it represents a significant shift in how computing resources are provided and managed," said David Cottingham, senior director, managed services at CDW, in a statement released today to coincide with the report. "With thoughtful planning, organizations can realize benefits that align directly with their organizational goals: consolidated IT infrastructure, reduced IT energy and capital costs, and 'anywhere' access to documents and applications."

Respondents also indicated that cloud computing will not replace all or even most of the technologies used in their organizations. Overall, respondents said 42 percent of their IT "services and applications" have even the potential to move to the cloud.

"The potential to cut costs while maintaining or even enhancing computing capabilities for end users presents a compelling case for investment in cloud computing," Cottingham added. "The fact that even current cloud users anticipate spending just a third of their IT budget on cloud computing within five years suggests that before wide-scale implementation, IT managers are taking a hard look at their IT governance, architecture, security and other prerequisites for cloud computing, in order to ensure that their implementations are successful."

Overall, 84 percent of cloud adopters reported realizing savings on application costs, with those savings averaging 21 percent annually.

The complete CDW-G 2011 Cloud Computing Tracking Poll is available free with registration. Additional details can be found on CDW-G's research portal here.

About the Author

David Nagel is the former editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal, STEAM Universe, and Spaces4Learning. A 30-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art, marketing, media, and business publications.

He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at .

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