Almost half (46%) of cloud services are manually provisioned by an IT administrator for the end user without automation, according to research by Abiquo. The study reveals a worrying landscape of technology rather than service-focused cloud implementations.

The survey, conducted at VMworld Europe last week, found that despite 75% of delegates reporting that their company offered private, public or hybrid cloud services to customers, just 15% of these provide a ‘self-service’ interface that enables the end user to select and provision cloud IT services for themselves – the ultimate purpose of cloud computing. 39% of delegates also revealed that there is no cloud management interface for customers to access services.

In addition, bringing cloud services online is a lengthy process for most customers. The most common SLA for provisioning a customer request is ‘within three days’, for 37% of customers. Just 15% of IT professionals interviewed commit to providing virtual cloud services to customers within three hours, although a further 25% are able to spin-up services within 24 hours. This represents significant delays in the provision of new services into cloud environments, and a lost opportunity in term s of productivity and efficiency gains.

Life isn’t easy for IT administrators, however, when it comes to delivering cloud services. 45% of respondents are not using orchestration of any kind, 32% are using VMware management tools, but only 5% are using built-for-purpose orchestration and management software.

Almost one third of admins (32%) reported that there is no online provisioning interface for them to fulfil cloud service requests, and where there is an online management layer, a further third (33%), operate separate interfaces for end-users and IT.

Jim Darragh, CEO, Abiquo said: “The vision for cloud is meant to be simple, flexible and immediate – unfortunately, in reality this appears to be the exception rather than the rule. It seems that whilst cloud has certainly progressed from a technology and an infrastructure perspective, how it’s delivered to users and customers is still a decade behind.

“For cloud to reach its potential, the next step for IT decision makers is to get their arms around the complexity of the stack and plug it all into one interface that connects everything in the back end, with a straightforward interface for the user. For a cloud deployment to be successful the end user should be able to deploy services in minutes.

“If that is not designed or built into the cloud then the value is diminished significantly. There shouldn’t be any need for manual intervention by the IT department. IT can retain control and governance without having to manually provision new services.

“Businesses should benefit from the same user friendliness and ease of use that consumers enjoy from cloud services like Dropbox,” Darragh said. “The days of IT services built by an engineer, for an engineer are long gone and it’s time to adopt a different mindset to putting the power of IT in the hands of users.”