The Worst Problem With Cloud Applications

Let’s face it, switching from on-premises, on-demand, hosted, or any traditional model to cloud-based applications has issues associated with it.

Denying this would be — unconscionable, questionable… even downright dangerous.

Is the worse problem you’ll face the integration between systems? Is it the lack of IT support? A too-small-to-make-it-happen IT staff? Lack of a strategy? Not enough mobile support?

Or is it something as simple a too many logins and the lack of a single-sign-on solution?

Would you like to know?

I can help!

We are starting a research project on this topic with a survey and would love to have your input into it.  We are asking anyone that is associated with cloud applications (admins, IT people, or business users with admin responsibilities) to take our survey for the next two weeks and let us know.

We do have our theories, of course, from the many successful inquiries, interviews, and work we have done so far – but we want data to contrast it.  If you help us, we will send you the results as soon as they are ready and we will also send you the report with the detailed analysis.

And, to make it better, I am partnering with Denis Pombriant on this effort so you know you will get top-level writing (not my usual dribbles with parenthetical comments only… er, sorry).

Our friends at FinancialForce are sponsoring this effort and helping us put the information out there… so what do you say?

Help us? Take the survey?

In advance, many thanks.

7 Replies to “The Worst Problem With Cloud Applications”

  1. Esteban:

    I am glad to see this effort. Many have formed incorrect conclusions on the relevancy of cloud applications to their organization. The more specific and credible “data points” available will certainly be helpful to understand when and where the cloud might make sense for an organization.

    To give your analysis the best possible credibility, I suggest you consider attributing comments/feedback to specific people along with providing their experience and affiliations. This transparency would provide your audience with the discretion to form their own conclusions on the specific relevance to their operations.

    Would you not agree that understanding your source’s direct experience with running and integrating cloud applications along with any potential economic bias is absolutely relevant and important to make fully informed decisions and meet one’s responsibilities to relevant stakeholders?



    1. Chuck,

      There are two forces at play. The fight for transparency vs the right to anonymity.

      As long as I have been doing market research projects, I started with my father who was the founder of the first outfit in Argentina when I was 18, respondents want to remain anonymous. That is what powers the surveys and the will to respond. For the most part people will not contribute to the surveys if they are going to be identified.

      Further, in the business world there are many, many legal constraints to the contribution if it were not to remain anonymous. You can imagine how a large corporation would feel if the world knew they had a problem with, say, single log-in or database sync – or even with integration with mobile devices.

      This is why the answer to that is your complete and devout trust in me. I parse the data to make sure that real data makes it into the study, I follow up on interesting positions to share the knowledge while preserving the anonymity, and I put my reputation on the line each time I produce a report considering the data you see represents me and my firm.

      That is all i can offer in the way of openness and transparency without violating the right to privacy of my respondents. And that is why people both answer the surveys and read the reports.

      That’s the game 🙂

      Thanks for reading.


  2. Esteban:

    I don’t have time to provide a thoughtful reply now and will do so later, but I wanted to thank you for your reply and provide a quick response.

    With all due respect, and I sincerely mean that, the bottom line for me is that you have shown to be a very big cloud advocate, quite possibly approaching zealot status. I also strongly suspect that many vendors and others with economic incentive to sell “cloud” will take your survey anonymously. The result will be a glowing report of cloud for all but the uniformed (aka dumb-asses) with minimal illumination of the real, consequential and often subtle gotchas and challenges for moving to the cloud. I also know you believe “hybrid cloud” is an oxymoron, so that certainly wont be covered.

    It is also worth mentioning that the vendor paying for this research is all-in for cloud, in particular with Salesforce.

    Again, I absolutely believe that many unfairly discount moving even some of their business to the cloud because of ignorance and unfounded fear, but I also know that others move to the cloud with minimal tangible understanding because of tons of high-level marketing hype being incessantly dropped on c-level folks. The stakes are high.

    Your research has real potential, but …

    Have a great weekend. I certainly am looking forward to it!



    1. Chuck,

      All i can do is post my disclaimers, keep it open, approach it from the professional side and publish what i find.

      you make your own conclusions, of course, and they likely differ from mine.

      i publish research and data so you can figure it out on your own, don’t take my word. i don’t control responses and the data is never manipulated.

      either you trust me or not, that’s your decision.

      15 years later, as an analyst – 30 as a market researcher, so far has proven that i am trustworthy in spite of my opinions. the rest is up to you.

      thanks for reading.


  3. Esteban:

    Trust is largely irrelevant as long as there is a clear separation of opinion and fact and all relevant disclosures are made. I trust that you will not intentionally distort results and that you will resist any pressures from your sponsoring vendor, but you are human…

    In my mind, what’s vital for this research to have meaty value will be for you to clearly define as much as you can about your sources of data in aggregate and individually.

    I suggest asking people if they are OK with being identified; I suspect many will happily comply. You will also have to work very hard on getting input from as broad a sample as possible, especially considering the expressed opinions on cloud by those involved in this research. You certainly don’t want to end up with the credibility of a survey by Fox News!

    Esteban, I personally know you to be a person I can trust and in no way want to undermine anyone’s trust in you on this or any other research. However, I believe that it’s always best to minimize what actually requires trust. Opinions serve little value to me, it’s the basis for the opinion that matters.

    Note to all analysts, let your readers decide if it matters how much of your revenue comes from the specific technology you are writing about.


    1. Trust and reputation is what powers my business and my participation in it. I don’t take your comments personally, and I like you as a person as well, but I think on the professional front I must comment.

      i wish you would change your perspective on the insidiousness of the business in which we both chose to participate and understand how these studies and sharing the results help make for a bigger pie.

      I have far easier, and better, ways to make more money. I am not doing this for the money – as anyone who ever met me will attest. I play the game with the moral rules of my principles. And, yes – like everything else it is a game. The disclaimers I have pasted all over the place clearly indicate where the money comes from, and what I am willing to do for it.

      While i understand you mean no disrespect (and I know you mean that), I chose to engage in this conversation because it is disrespectful to assume that because of my opinions and positions i would allow any client (or even myself) to muffle a data-based perspective. You are welcome to question that, as anybody else is, but I have proven time and time again while at Gartner and as an independent that what powers me is not the biased approach to research you stipulate.

      It is also unfair to my client that you are choosing this specific post to question their integrity as well as mine in this matter. As much as I like you as a person, I don’t take it lightly when I am questioned as to the professional ethics or those of my clients. I have conducted over 25 research projects, all sponsored and endorsed by vendors who were clearly identified, since I started independently and hundreds more under Gartner and other banners. Not sure what is is about this one that causes a reaction – especially when there are no results published yet.

      I have 15 years standing behind me as an analyst and 30 on-and-off on market research that prove that that bias has never happened, nor will it ever happen. I chose to leave Gartner over pressures to publish “research” that was based on vendor-clients’ pressures and not on market positions. The eService MQ for 2006-2008 were never published because of the pressure of managers to make certain vendors “leaders” where the data did not support it (and, I am still paying for that resistance to make them leaders as they continue to have their dislike of me deprive me of contact with vendors). I have fired many a vendor-client in the past 6+ years (and passed on many other opportunities) for pressuring me to take a position that was unsubstantiated.

      Having said that, and attempting to set the record straight, thanks for participating in this conversation.

      I like you and respect you as a person, but your continuous attack on the reputation of analysts as a whole simply by how we chose to make a living is reaching the end of my patience repository. I have allowed all those attacks to go unchecked in my blog – but this is the last time I will engage in this exercise.

      My apologies for all those who didn’t want to read these comments, but I feel that it was necessary to address them.


  4. Esteban:

    Thank you for your reply and reinforcement that our friendship remains intact, which is important to me.

    I am sincerely sorry if I offended anyone, but I believe my comments are fair.

    I am choosing to express my opinions relating to this research due to the importance and relevance of the subject matter and the potential value of the research. For those of you just joining this thread, I encourage you to read the previous comments to draw your own conclusions. I also rarely will pass up an opportunity to chide the analyst community about the rampant conflicts of interests inherent with their current model, as also was reflected in Esteban’s comments about his time with Gartner.

    However, I knew I was probably going too far when I made a comparison with Fox News. Yikes, my apologies. If someone compared me to Fox News, it would be fighting words!

    All kidding aside, I get this is a serious issue since you clearly interpret my comments as questioning the integrity of you, all analysts and FinancialForce (FF). I sincerely do not intend or believe I am doing any of that.

    First, I am absolutely not saying that you would intentionally distort any research results to ANY degree or for ANY reason. I am also not saying that FinancialForce would in any way suggest you distort any data. To be clear, I know that you will always ONLY write what you believe to be true.

    However, I am saying that there is clearly a large amount of room between fact and fiction, and it would only be “human” for you to at least subconsciously form conclusions in-line with your preconceived notions and FF’s understandable desires to put the cloud in the best light possible. To think that you are actually above that to ANY degree is … well, pretty arrogant.

    Even more arrogant is for any analyst to believe their integrity is being impugned by the mere request for them to clearly define any potential conflicts of interest regarding technology they are expressing some opinion. You always call out your relationships and I have NO beef with you on this. Ultimately I believe the high road for all analysts would be to refrain from expressing opinions on any firm’s technology that they receive any form of compensation.

    We all know that the industry is not so clean. It took real strength for you to call out Gartner like you did in your response to me. It took even more to not play along when you worked for Gartner. You taking the high road has its cost and I certainly understand my position has its costs too, but like you, I would never compromise my core beliefs for money.

    I believe the fundamental problem is with the model’s lack of transparency and generally not the integrity of the players. It’s more about the game and less about the players. In fact, most analysts I have met are smart and seem to have a decent moral compass. I am pretty sure that rationalization and the instinctual need to survive and prosper enabled these Gartner managers you mentioned to pressure you in good conscience. People will be people.

    I recently got this from a Gartner rep trying to sell me on their services when I expressed my dislike for their model: “ ‘Pay to play’ strictly goes against our business model, and our number one priority is to provide our end user clients with the best technology to grow their businesses. Pay to play may be norm with OTHER analyst firms, but our unbiased research is what has allowed us to emerge as the world’s number one IT research firm by an extremely large margin.” Why is it always the “other” person/firm you need to worry about? Have things changed at Gartner since you worked there?

    When would you be satisfied to trust someone for things important to you without knowing potential conflicts of interest? Would you not also expect as many supporting and diverse facts as possible to support opinions expressed and allow you to form your own opinions? I actually can’t think of one person you would give such unconditional (and naïve) trust.

    I truly do not intend to attack the integrity of anyone and just want transparency and as many supporting details as possible to allow buyers to make fully informed purchasing decisions. Is that too much to ask?

    Again, I am also an advocate of cloud. I just don’t think it is an all or nothing proposition.

    I wish you great success in getting as much input from as diverse a population as possible.

    Thank you for providing this forum to express my opinions.



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