If your inbox, LinkedIn updates or Twitter feed is anything like mine the majority of content you receive touts some aspect of cloud computing – adoption trends, merits of hybrid cloud, etc. I’m passionate about cloud computing but even I get exhausted with all of the hype. A major sticking point for me is all of the surveys produced and how to make sense of results. What does it all mean? Don’t get me wrong, I respect the work of these researchers but the challenge is connecting the dots because each survey has a slightly different focus. Connecting the dots is powerful because it helps to paint a full picture.

Recently I took the time to analyze survey results from a number of researchers. The intent of this post is to share that information along with a few thoughts on what this tells us about the cloud and where action is needed.

The surveys used to develop cloud insights are described below. Each one lends a different take on directions in cloud computing; together they provide an insightful perspective. Sure, there are other surveys available (e.g., Gartner) and most communicate the same points. The surveys below approach the cloud from different views ranging enterprise adoption to cloud maturity’s impact on business outcomes.

Surveys Reviewed

Harvard Business Review – This research was commissioned by Verizon and highlights cloud’s impact on business. Verizon has published a survey using the same data but different insights are highlighted.
Rightscale State of the Cloud Report – Rightscale’s cloud report highlights enterprise usage trends.
IDG Enterprise Cloud Computing Study – The IDG survey provides insight into the advancement of enterprise cloud adoption.
451 Alliance Corporate Cloud Computing Trends – Survey focuses on cloud market IT trends including enterprise adoption, spend patterns, service delivery perspectives, and deployment statistics. (Referenced May 2015 survey.)
Radar Benefits of Cloud Maturity – I specifically sought out a survey that speaks to maturity and outcomes. Radar’s survey did a good job of addressing these points and thoughtfully communicating what cloud maturity means. This survey was performed on behalf of Tieto and covers organizations in Sweden, Norway, and Finland. Borders don’t matter when considering maturity and outcomes.

The insights gained from the surveys are highlighted below. The focus is on business value and approaches to cloud rather than technology and service providers.

Cloud Insights

Insight #1 – The competitive advantage is waning; cloud is simply a part of doing business

Insight #2 – Cost savings are achievable if the right level of maturity is attained. Organizations that practice mature cloud adoption realize approximately 30% savings in OpEx spend over time. Mature organizations have a strategy for cloud adoption, good governance, and effectively broker of services.

Insight #3 – The predominant view is real value comes from speed, not cost savings

  • Most (71%) organizations have increased business agility with the cloud
  • Many (40%) organizations have increased revenue
  • Some (36%) organizations have increased profit
  • 88% use cloud to be more responsive
  • 65% use cloud to improve business operations

Insight #4 – Organizations are leveraging a multi-cloud strategy

  • 82% of organizations operate in a multi-cloud model
  • 55% of the organizations operating in a multi-cloud model leverage hybrid cloud

Insight #5 – The number of workloads and applications in the cloud vary

  • 33% of organizations state >75% of workloads in the cloud (note – this represents workloads, not application)
  • 32% of organizations host >20% of applications in the cloud
  • 68% of organizations host <20% of applications in the cloud

Insight #6 – Views on the challenges are mostly consistent

  • Security is consistently the top concern
  • Compliance and integration are a toss up for the number two position
  • Talent is a key gap that was highlighted in the Rightscale survey (My opinion – the talent gap isn’t highlighted enough.)

Insight #7 – Organizations consistently look to partner with providers that have a breadth of services – hosted private cloud, public cloud managed services, full stack management, and security services.

The key message is cloud computing has proven ability to produce positive outcomes. Yes, sometimes those outcomes can be exaggerated but the value is real. All organizations use some form of cloud computing but the level of maturity remains low; it’s time to move to the next level. The call to action for most organizations is increasing cloud maturity (see below).

Call To Action

  1. Have a clear IT strategy that includes cloud brokerage and integration
  2. Define future state IT architecture that incorporates hybrid cloud deployment model
  3. Update operational tools and processes (e.g., monitoring, change management, incident management) to support hybrid cloud
  4. Implement effective governance to address areas such as policies for application deployment, service management, and guidelines for how cloud services are contracted and approved.
  5. Develop talent that understands the cloud – software architecture, IT architecture, application integration, security controls, and service management (list not all inclusive)

Keep in mind surveys communicate trends, not what’s possible. This post gives you a perspective of the current cloud landscape but don’t let this limit your thinking. We are only scratching the surface with what can be done given the available technologies and cloud services.

Posted by Karl

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