We’re getting to the point where it’s nearly impossible to differentiate between “IT infrastructure” and “cloud.” Organizations continue to shift data and workloads to cloud services, whether they’re private clouds that have emerged from virtualized data centers, private cloud services from a vendor or hosted public clouds offered by service providers.
The deployment of cloud services has opened up all kinds of opportunities for organizations to increase efficiencies and flexibility, and reduce costs. But it has also brought more complexity and management challenges to a lot of enterprises, including the need to ensure data security in cloud environments.
The 2017 Intelligent Technology Index by IT services provider Insight, which identifies industry trends surrounding the primary concerns, benefits, challenges and decisions facing IT personnel, presents a picture of some of the difficulties facing organizations as they leverage the cloud.
Insight in November and December 2016 conducted an online survey of a random sample of 401 IT professionals who are responsible for at least two key areas of IT, such as management and supervision of IT systems, determining IT needs for their company, and approving or selecting IT consultants.
A significant majority of those surveyed (84%) said their organizations invested in cloud services in 2016, with software-as-a-service and security-as-a-service continuing to be the leading cloud models organizations are adopting.
The report said 57% of the organizations had adopted software-as-a-service and 51% had deployed security-as-a-service offerings. Next most common were infrastructure-as-a-service (39%) and disaster-recovery-as-a-service (34%).
Only 15% of the organizations have fully shifted their corporate application workloads to public clouds, but 47% are more than halfway implemented in the cloud, Insight said.
Those companies that have invested in cloud services are reaping benefits such as a more flexible and collaborative IT environment (61%), more secure data environment (59%), improved remote access (55%), improved support from providers (48%), faster speed to market (36%), and a reduction in capital expenditure fees (35%).
Although they recognize benefits related to cloud implementation, IT professionals express concerns over the challenges associated with moving more applications to the cloud. More than three out of 10 respondents report data availability concerns in a cloud environment, and one-third are concerned that implementation of cloud services is too disruptive to their organizations.
About three quarters (63%) report data security is paramount when it comes to investing in cloud services, suggesting that the question of the cloud’s safety is a pressing one for many.
And yet, although IT professionals are concerned about security, they also think their data environments are safer. In addition, they
do not want cloud migration to disrupt their organizations, but they acknowledge that it leads to an improved IT environment with more flexibility, collaboration and access.
The Insight report said the value of the cloud will likely prevail over its drawbacks, many of which are related to the challenges of adopting new technologies in general. “Likewise, cloud migration is a good example of an area in which businesses have already begun accounting for tomorrow’s needs as they address today’s priorities,” it said.
Part of the challenge involves funding. Technology professionals said security (55%) and the cloud (44%) are the top two areas in which their IT budgets need to increase. Those companies that said they’re increasing their 2017 IT budgets as well as those that are more than halfway implemented in the cloud are significantly more likely to feel that security and the cloud need further investment.
The IT professionals surveyed gave their current IT infrastructure an average grade of “B,” which is modestly better than the “B minus” grades they gave a year earlier. But the Insight report said they still face challenges when it comes to optimization, with upgrading existing hardware and software as the biggest pain point (53%).
Other challenges include integration of applications without threatening the core architecture (38%), integration of mobile/hybrid devices without threatening the core architecture (34%), and better visibility into traffic patterns and data management (32%).
IT leaders might be showing improved optimism around their ability to manage their IT infrastructures today, but are also equally as apprehensive about the future, said Steve Dodenhoff, president of Insight U.S.
“In the rapidly changing technology and business landscape, their concerns are valid,” Dodenhoff said. “They not only need to operate to meet today’s business needs, but they also need to navigate emergent technologies, applications and complex data environments in order to provide a rich and flexible technology ecosystem that enables their organizations to keep pace and drive transformation.”