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What makes customers tick in the cloud?

What makes customers tick in the cloud?

We profile readers of CIO, Computerworld, CSO, InfoWorld, ITworld and Network World

IDG Communications has assessed the cloud spending patterns of customers through in-depth research profiling readers of CIO, Computerworld, CSO, InfoWorld, ITworld and Network World publications.

All brands operate as sister publications of ARN, Reseller News and Channel Asia across Australia, New Zealand and Asia Pacific respectively, offering the channel unique insight into the cloud strategies of end-users.

With an audience representing key IT and security decision-makers across multiple industries - spanning six IDG brands - the results are based on 550 customer respondents.

Under the banner of 2018 Cloud Computing research, findings show that organisations continue to increase investment and evolve cloud environments in order to drive growth through the business.

With 73 per cent of customers having at least one application, or a portion of computing infrastructure already in the cloud, it’s no longer a question of if organisations will adopt cloud, but how.

Customer complexity = partner opportunity

The overall sentiment of the research centres around a cloud market that is maturing at pace, but growing more complex in parallel.

Such customer complexity is creating pockets of opportunity for partners to capitalise, through the offering of consultancy services, the creation of applications and the delivery of tailored solutions.

Currently, 43 per cent of customers are using hybrid cloud only, while 12 per cent are using multi-cloud only and 30 per cent are using both.

The perceived benefits of using multi-cloud include: increased cloud options (59 per cent); easier and faster disaster recovery (40 per cent) and increased flexibility by allowing the spread of workloads across multiple clouds (38 per cent).

Despite business stakeholders realising the benefits and results of cloud adoption, more than one third of IT departments (38 per cent) feel pressure to migrate 100 per cent to the cloud.

Enterprise organisations - housing more than 1,000 employees - are carrying the pressure more than mid-market counterparts - housing less than 1,000 employees.

Specifically, 44 per cent of enterprise organisations, compared with 31 per cent of mid-market organisations, feel pressure from executive management or individual lines of business to migrate 100 per cent 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 per cent of customers beginning to think this way.

Delving deeper, organisations in technology-dependent industries are much more apt to be thinking of cloud providers within a portfolio strategy: financial services (63 per cent) and high-tech (63 per cent) top the list, and manufacturing (43 per cent) and education (41 per cent) are least likely to be thinking of cloud providers within a portfolio strategy.

“IT organisations are being asked to improve the speed of IT service delivery and react to changing market conditions,” said Julie Ekstrom, senior vice president of IDG Communications. “Cloud solutions provide the flexibility to do just that. Organisations 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.”

Spending as-a-service

Of note to partners, the percentage of IT budgets allocated to cloud computing has remained relatively consistent at 30 per cent, compared with 28 per cent in 2016.

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 per cent still carry significant influence, with the next function / role dropping to 54 per cent saying the CTO has significant influence.

For mid-market respondents, the CEO is also influential (72 per cent), and for enterprise organisations the number two spot is taken by the CSO and IT architect (both at 87 per cent).

Delving into the technical aspects of the study, the make-up of IT organisations’ computing environment - the per cent of 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 per cent non-cloud, 23 per cent SaaS, 16 per cent IaaS and nine per cent PaaS.

Over the next 18 months, customers expect this to evolve to 31 per cent non-cloud, 33 per cent SaaS, 22 per cent IaaS and 14 per cent PaaS.

The two biggest factors driving the adoption of SaaS benefit the IT team within organisations - less time spent on manual updates / maintenance (62 per cent) and increased productivity / decreased labour time (55 per cent).

The next two factors - greater access and reliability, and enhanced user experience (both 53 per cent) have a direct benefit to end-users.

Meanwhile, savings on server and storage overhead (56 per cent) and no longer having to manage updates and maintenance (51 per cent) rank as the top objectives driving the adoption of PaaS, with scalability the top factor driving the adoption of IaaS (68 per cent) followed by flexibility (53 per cent).

Furthermore, the top applications organisations have/or currently are moving to the cloud are website/web apps (49 per cent) and collaboration and communications solutions (45 per cent).

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 per cent) and business intelligence, data warehouse and analytics (45 per cent).

This is followed by storage / archive / back-up / file server (44 per cent) and system management / DevOps (42 per cent).

Challenges remain

Customer concerns about vendor lock-in (47 per cent), where data is stored (34 per cent) and the security of cloud solutions (34 per cent) remain the top challenges or barriers to implementing a cloud computing strategy year-over-year.

Yet the results show a steady decline in security concerns - from a high of 67 per cent in 2015 to 34 per cent today.

Two other security or governance concerns also appear to be decreasing over time as cloud offerings have matured, driven by compliance and the ability of cloud solutions to meet enterprise and/or industry standards (was at a high of 35 per cent in 2015 and at 26 per cent in 2018).

Concerns around information governance (eDiscovery and other information management requirements) ranked at a high of 35 per cent in 2014, before dropping to 23 per cent in 2018.

“As comfort with cloud security rises it is not surprising that organisations are looking for additional ways to integrate those models into their tech stack,” Ekstrom added.

“While colleagues through the organisation may introduce cloud applications, the role of strategic oversight and vendor management must sit squarely with IT.”


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