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Forrester: ‘Irrational fear’ holds down cloud desktop use

Got desktop as a service? Probably not. A recent report from Forrester Research says most organizations aren’t lining up for the PC-sized version of cloud computing — at least not yet — citing configuration and security concerns.

And though the market is strong for internal private clouds, organizations aren’t seeing the business value they set out for — and soon interest will veer off toward the public-private cloud neutral zone known as hybrid cloud.

The report, part of Forrester’s TechRadar series — research that makes 10-year-plus predictions about how a range of technologies will fare, said the larger cloud market is booming, with demand for speed, flexibility and cost savings causing segments like the public cloud to rapidly expand their reach.

But while niche “as a service” services — integration as a service and storage as a service, for example — begin their rise into the stratosphere, others are finding trouble getting much lift, the report said. Desktop as a service (DaaS) takes the operations of a desktop operating system, puts it in a virtual infrastructure — so it runs on a centralized server along with others — and hands it all over to a cloud provider.

There are many benefits, said Glenn O’Donnell, a Forrester analyst and co-author of the report — it can save companies time and money spent on maintaining computers for their workforces.

“Maintaining desktops, PCs, is a real pain in the butt,” he said. “If we can manage all those desktop environments in sort of a centralized place — that has a lot of operational benefit. Simplicity pays off extremely well there.”

The problem is an old one: IT organizations are worried about their data. Though more folks are coming to trust the public cloud — because of the powerful defense big providers like Amazon have in place — ceding control of the personal information and intellectual property, which are created and stored on desktop computers, puts a lot of IT managers into a panic.

“It’s largely irrational, but every irrational fear is based on some dose of reality, and the dose of reality at the heart of all of this is, ‘My stuff is somewhere else; therefore I can’t touch it, I can’t control it and therefore it’s got to be at risk,'” O’Donnell said.

DaaS also doesn’t always integrate well with other corporate systems, including information security systems, according to the report. Make it more easily configurable for more organizations, and more may want to sign on.

Check out part two of this interview with Forrester Research analyst Glenn O’Donnell to find out about another struggling product area of cloud computing, internal private cloud.

Let us know what you think of this post; email Jason Sparapani, features writer, or find him on Twitter @jmsparapani.