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Cloud Adoption Climbs Despite Complexity, Security Concerns

A new study serves as further proof that cloud and hybrid IT have become a reality for most organizations worldwide, unlike just a few years ago when they were limited to early adopters.

The SolarWinds IT Trends Report 2017: Portrait of a Hybrid IT Organization found that 95 percent of organizations surveyed have migrated critical applications and IT infrastructure to the cloud over the past year.

The survey also suggests that cloud technologies are largely delivering on their promises: Nearly three in five respondents said their organizations have reaped most or all of the expected benefits of the cloud, including cost efficiency, availability and scalability.

Still, the cloud transition is not without its challenges. The study highlighted that significant barriers remain, including complexity and security concerns.

The study was based on 868 responses from organizations in North America, Australia, Brazil, Germany, Hong Kong, Singapore and the United Kingdom. Survey respondents were IT practitioners, managers or directors at small, mid-size and enterprise organizations, both in the public and private sectors.

More than three out of five IT professionals who responded said cloud and hybrid IT have had somewhat of an impact on their careers, requiring them to acquire new skills, while 11 percent said the impact has been “tremendous,” altering their career paths.

“No job is more affected by ongoing technology disruptions that the role of the IT professional, which is why we explore these dynamics year after year,” said Joe Kim, senior vice president and CTO at SolarWinds, which sells IT management software. SolarWinds is the parent of SolarWinds MSP, which offers IT automation and monetization tools for MSPs.

Key Survey Findings:  A Closer Look

Hybrid IT can look very different from one organization to the next, but the SolarWinds survey uncovered some overarching trends:

  • Cloud priorities: The top three areas of cloud migration in the last year were applications (74 percent), storage (50 percent) and databases (35 percent).
  • Cost savings: The top reason identified for prioritizing these three areas of cloud migration was ROI/cost efficiency. This aligns with the results of analyst firm Gartner’s cloud adoption survey, which reported organizations are saving 14 percent of their budgets as a result of public cloud adoption.
  • Hiring: Nearly three-fifths (57 percent) of respondents said their organizations have either hired/reassigned or plan to hire/reassign IT staff for the purpose of managing cloud technologies.
  • Providers: Nearly seven out of 10 IT professionals (69 percent) said their organizations use three or fewer cloud provider environments. Of those, most used two or three. However, almost 10 percent of respondents said they use 10 or more.

Despite the increasing adoption of cloud technologies, the survey also makes it clear there’s significant room for growth and improvement:

  • Thirty-five percent of organizations reported hosting only 1-9 percent of their infrastructure entirely in the cloud, while 11 percent said none of their infrastructure is hosted entirely in the cloud.
  • Nearly half (45 percent) said their organizations still spend 70 percent or more of their annual budgets on traditional on-premise applications and infrastructure. This falls short of analyst firm IDC’s prediction that by 2018 at least half of all IT spending would be cloud-based, indicating a potential lag in cloud spending.
  • Increased infrastructure complexity was identified as the No. 1 challenge to hybrid cloud, followed by lack of control/visibility into performance.
  • Cost efficiency is not always enough to justify migration to the cloud. Thirty-five percent of respondents reported migrating apps and infrastructure to the cloud, only to later bring them back on-premise due to security, compliance and performance issues.

Best Practices for Cloud Migration

Based on the survey results, SolarWinds offered some recommendations for IT professionals on how to succeed as the hybrid IT era continues to involve, including:

  • Consider more than cost – Security and performance are equally important. Don’t sacrifice quality of service for cost savings.
  • Cloud-proof your job – IT professionals should focus on cultivating and improving fundamental cloud skill sets, including monitoring/management, application migration, automation and data analytics.
  • Be flexible – Remain open and agile to adopting best-of-breed elements of cloud computing and hybrid IT.
  • Trust but verify – Use comprehensive IT monitoring beyond what’s offered by cloud service providers to truly understand how workloads are performing in the cloud.
  • Distribute – Develop strategies to avoid catastrophic downtime in the cloud due to a single point of failure. Implement distributed systems by spreading across a variety of regions.

The survey was conducted in December 2016 by C White Consulting on behalf of SolarWinds.

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