Cloud ComputingNews & Analysis

Cloud Environments Are Maturing, Yet Growing Complex

Complex Environments

While companies continue to invest more on the cloud, and cloud environments are maturing, at the same time they are growing more complex, posing issues related to vendor lock-in, data storage and security, according to a recent 2018 Cloud Computing research by IDG.

The study shows that organizations continue to increase their investment in cloud technologies in order to drive their business forward. With 73% of organizations having at least one application, or a portion of their computing infrastructure already in the cloud, it is no longer a question of if organizations will adopt cloud, but how.

Complex EnvironmentsCloud environments are maturing and in some cases, growing more complex. While 43% are using hybrid cloud only, and 12% are using multi cloud only, 30% are using both. The perceived benefits of using multi cloud include: increased cloud options (59%); easier and faster disaster recovery (40%); and increased flexibility by allowing the spread of workloads across multiple clouds (38%), the study shows.

As business stakeholders see the benefits and results of cloud adoption, more than one third of respondents (38%) shared that their IT department feels pressure to migrate 100% to the cloud. Enterprise organizations (companies with 1,000+ employees) are feeling that pressure more than their SMB counterparts (companies with <1,000 employees). Forty-four percent of enterprise organizations, compared with 31% of SMB organizations, feel pressure from executive management or individual lines of business to migrate 100% to the cloud.

The evolution of more complex environments has also generated the need for, or discussion around, viewing cloud providers as a portfolio, with 51% of respondents beginning to think this way.  Organizations in technology-dependent industries are much more apt to be thinking of cloud providers within a portfolio strategy: financial services (63%) and high tech (63%) top the list, and manufacturing (43%) and education (41%) are least likely to be thinking of cloud providers within a portfolio strategy.

Cloud Spending on the RiseThe percent of IT budgets allocated to cloud computing has remained relatively consistent at 30% in this year’s study, compared with 28% in 2016, however, total dollars spent are increasing this year, especially by SMBs. The average overall investment jumped from $1.62 million in 2016 to $2.2 million in 2018. SMB budgets increased from $286K in 2016 to $889K now, and enterprise investment levels saw an increase from $3.03 million in 2016 to $3.5 million now.

Given that cloud consumes a substantial portion of tech spending, it is not surprising that the CIO or top IT executive is the most influential role in the cloud computing purchase process. Overall, 71% say he/she has significant influence, with the next function/role dropping to 54% saying the CTO has significant influence. For SMB respondents, the CEO is also influential (72%), and for enterprise organizations the number two spot is taken by the CSO and IT Architect (both at 87%).

“IT organizations are being asked to improve the speed of IT service delivery and react to changing market conditions. Cloud solutions provide the flexibility to do just that,” said Julie Ekstrom, SVP, IDG Communications, Inc. “Organizations are relying on a mix of cloud delivery models to meet this need; however it requires management of multiple vendors. As tech executives explore new areas of cloud investment, they examine their portfolio of cloud vendors to see what solutions can grow and what new vendors will work collaboratively with their existing portfolio for ease of adoption.”

Delivery Models – Moving to an As-A-Service WorldThe makeup of IT organizations’ computing environment – the percent of their environments made of the mix of non-cloud, SaaS, PaaS and IaaS – is split fairly evenly between non-cloud and cloud but that is expected to change. Currently the average environment is 53% non-cloud, 23% SaaS, 16% IaaS and 9% PaaS. Over the next 18 months respondents expect this to evolve to 31% non-cloud, 33% SaaS, 22% IaaS and 14% PaaS.

The two biggest factors driving the adoption of SaaS benefit the IT team within organizations – less time spent on manual updates/maintenance (62%) and increased productivity/decreased labor time (55%). The next two factors – greater access and reliability, and enhanced user experience (both 53%) have a direct benefit to end users. Savings on server and storage overhead (56%) and no longer having to manage updates and maintenance (51%) are the top objectives driving the adoption of PaaS, and scalability is the top factor driving the adoption of IaaS (68%) followed by flexibilty (53%).

According to the study, the top applications organizations have/or currently are moving to the cloud are website/web apps (49%) and collaboration and communications solutions (45%). Top applications in the planning stages – those that will be migrated either in the next 12 months, or 1-3 years – are disaster recovery/high availability (49%); BI/data warehouse/data analytics (45%); storage/archive/backup/file server (44%); and system management/DevOps (42%).

Cloud ChallengesAlthough concerns about vendor lock-in (47%), where data is stored (34%) and the security of cloud computing solutions (34%) remain the top challenges or barriers to implementing a cloud computing strategy year over year. It is interesting to note that the results show a steady decline in security concerns – from a high of 67% in 2015 to 34%. Two other security or governance concerns also appear to be decreasing over time as cloud offerings have matured: compliance – the ability of cloud computing solutions to meet enterprise and/or industry standards (was at a high of 35% in 2015 and at 26% today); and concerns about information governance (eDiscovery and other information management requirements) with a high of 35% in 2014, down to 23% today.

“As comfort with cloud security rises it is not surprising that organizations are looking for additional ways to integrate those models into their tech stack,” continued Ekstrom. “While colleagues through the organization may introduce cloud applications, the role of strategic oversight and vendor management must sit squarely with IT.”

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