State of the Cloud 2016: Reality Check for VARs, MSPs

RightScale delivered its annual State of the Cloud report today. The 2016 edition, like previous efforts, is a worthwhile read featuring plenty of takeaways for IT professionals and channel partners. Still, ChannelE2E can't resist the temptation to weigh in with a few reality checks for VARs, MSPs and other partners that are making the cloud services journey.

Among the highlights:

1. RightScale Says DevOps Grows and Docker Spreads Like Wildfire, Especially in the Enterprise. Overall DevOps adoption rises from 66 to 74 percent, with enterprises reaching 81 percent. Overall Docker adoption more than doubles to 27 percent vs. 13 percent in 2015; and another 35 percent have plans to use Docker. ChannelE2E Adds: Too bad the channel is so darn late to the DevOps and container conversations. Only a handful of partners -- names like TekLinks -- are ahead of the curve on this.

2. RightSCale Says Hybrid Cloud Adoption Grew Significantly: Private cloud adoption increased from 63 percent to 77 percent, driving hybrid cloud adoption up from 58 percent to 71 percent year-over-year. ChannelE2E Adds: So, um, how are VARs and MSPs managing customer workloads across on-premises and public cloud infrastructure? We think some of the clues are here.

3. RightsScale Says Cloud Users Leverage Six Clouds on Average: Cloud users are running applications in an average of 1.5 public clouds and 1.7 private clouds. They are experimenting with an additional 1.5 public clouds and 1.3 private clouds. ChannelE2E Adds: Cloud billing tools will become increasingly critical as partners juggle all those clouds for customers.

4. More Enterprise Workloads Shift to Cloud, Especially Private Cloud: 17 percent of enterprises now have more than 1,000 VMs in public cloud, up from 13 percent in 2014. Private cloud showed even stronger growth with 31 percent of enterprises running more than 1,000 VMs, up from 22 percent in 2014. ChannelE2E Adds: Ironically, VMware's classic virtual machine business is slowing down. That suggests customers are adopting a range of VM technologies as they move forward on-premises and in the cloud.

5. Security Is No Longer the Top Cloud Challenge: Lack of resources/expertise is now the #1 cloud challenge (cited by 32 percent), supplanting security (cited by 29 percent). ChannelE2E Adds: Public clouds, generally speaking, are more secure than on-premises SMB networks that most VARs and MSPs are asked to manage.

6. Cloud Cost Challenges Increase, but Optimization Efforts Lag: 26 percent of respondents identify cloud cost management as a significant challenge, a steady increase each year from 18 percent in 2013. Cloud cost management provides a significant opportunity for savings, since few companies are taking critical actions to optimize cloud costs, such as shutting down unused workloads or selecting lower-cost cloud or regions. ChannelE2E: We mentioned billing management tools in point 3 above. Now, we'll mention it again.

7. Amazon Web Services (AWS) Continues to Lead in Public Cloud Adoption, but Azure (Iaas and PaaS) Gain Ground: Overall, AWS is used by 57 percent of respondents, flat from last year. Enterprise adoption of AWS grew from 50 percent to 56 percent while adoption by smaller businesses fell slightly from 61 percent to 58 percent. Azure IaaS grows strongly from 12 percent to 17 percent adoption, while Azure PaaS grows from 9 percent to 13 percent. ChannelE2E Adds: IaaS certainly looks like a two-horse race (Amazon, Microsoft), but IBM SoftLayer and Google Cloud Platform also have some market share -- while Oracle Cloud is ramping up its partner program now.

8. Private Cloud Adoption Grows Across All Providers: VMware vSphere continues to lead with strong year-over-year growth. 44 percent of all respondents report they use it as a private cloud. OpenStack and VMware vCloud Suite both show strong growth and remain tied at 19 percent adoption overall. ChannelE2E Adds: Private clouds aren't doing enough to fuel VMware's growth. The company needs a clearer public cloud and hybrid cloud management strategy. That's where a new VMWare NSX offering will enter the cloud picture soon.

The bottom line for channel partners? Figure out your cloud management and monitoring strategy -- to get workloads under control in a proactive, profitable manner.

Joe Panettieri

Joe Panettieri is co-founder & editorial director of MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E, the two leading news & analysis sites for managed service providers in the cybersecurity market.