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Despite its reputation as a still-emerging technology, cloud computing is finding its place in the enterprise, according to a recent report by Yankee Group.

The research firm’s “2010 FastView Survey: Cloud Computing Grows Up,” takes a look at the state of cloud-computing adoption in the enterprise both now and moving forward. The results show a slow but steady adoption of cloud computing, but with a lingering dose of uncertainty and distrust about the security of the technology.

“Cloud computing is not going to die out; it will mature but we need to get beyond certain barriers for widespread adoption, including standards, security concerns, ubiquitous coverage,” said Sheryl Kingstone, research director at Yankee Group and co-author of the report. “There are a lot of things keeping it down, but none of which are unattainable.”

Service providers, in particular, have a unique opportunity to help advance cloud computing, she said.

“There are still verticals that need applications for the cloud,” she said. “So there are a lot of software opportunities that they can go sell where there is no one else.”

Unified communications is one example of a space that has been left largely untapped. Although some vendors – most notably Polycom and Siemens – have developed platforms that leverage UC movement into the cloud, managed services providers have a wide open field to play in.

“The way unified communications is delivered to enterprises and then being able to move that downstream for SMBs – there is still a lot that can be done there,” Kingstone said.

Among the report’s findings: Enterprises make up the fastest growing segment of cloud computing environments, surpassing the SMB early-adopter space. Additionally, most cloud computing users rely on IT integrators and vendors for their cloud computing solutions over telecom or other types of companies – showing that telecom service providers have much work to do to increase the quality and quantity of their offerings.

“Telcos have their strength in the Infrastructure-as-a-Service area, which is really still in its early adoption stage. Meanwhile, the majority of enterprise investments – and where carriers are behind – are in SaaS,” Kingstone said. “The ISVs have not understood how they can leverage the ecosystem of the telcos, so there really hasn’t been much movement.”

Also of note was the preference of internal cloud networks over public infrastructures, due mostly to security and privacy concerns. In fact, 67 percent of the survey’s 424 respondents said they prefer an internal or private cloud infrastructure, with only 28 percent preferring a fully managed public cloud such as Verizon’s CaaS and only 21 percent choosing a regular public cloud, such as Amazon’s EC2 offering.

For the most part, cloud computing in the enterprise is viewed positively – more than 50 percent (57 percent, to be exact) consider cloud computing to be an enabling technology that drives business transformation and innovation. Only 7 percent believe cloud-based offerings are suitable for their organization and a measly 1 percent thinks cloud computing is nothing more than marketing hype.

Long term, the channel could be the real winners in the cloud computing space, Kingstone noted. “They have the potential to aggregate and federate in the cloud.”