Everyone in IT knows how much the cloud is becoming a central and strategic component of the modern technology infrastructure at many enterprises. Perhaps less well known is the fact that a lot of organizations have pulled workloads back from the cloud—in part because of concerns about data management and security.
A recent report by International Data Group (IDG) and IT services and solutions provider Datalink sheds light on some of the latest trends in IT and the cloud, including a look at certain aspects of the cloud that are causing concerns.
The study, “Stakes Rise for IT: The IT Transformation Journey,” is based on an online survey of 142 senior IT professionals in the U.S., conducted in 2017. Respondents were required to work in an IT-related function at the director level or above, and qualified respondents are employed at companies with an average of 23,000 employees.
Not surprisingly, just about all of the respondents said IT is crucial or very important to business strategy. When asked to name the top business strategies IT will focus on in the next 12 months, the top business goals cited include efficiency (60%), customer service improvement (58%), increased agility (47%), and digital transformation (47%).
However, a number of challenges are hindering progress to meet the needs of the business. For one thing, the IT leaders report difficulties in freeing up funds to invest in technology innovations to advance the business. More than 50 percent said funding IT innovation is extremely challenging. Two-thirds of the IT budget is spent on “keeping the lights on” vs. innovation and business-advancing initiatives.
In addition, while IT optimization levels showed some year-over-year improvement, work is still needed to transform technology, skills, and processes to meet business needs.
And while respondents report that their organizations are leveraging a hybrid cloud strategy, assessing which workloads are best suited for on-premises and/or off-premises cloud platforms is challenging due to difficulties determining security, data storage, and data access requirements, as well as defining a multi-site strategy.
Only about 25% of the respondents rate their IT environments as fully optimized in areas ranging from application workload management to process standardization and team staffing models. Thirty percent ranked their optimization level between one and six on a scale of one to 10, indicating there is room for improvement.
The use of public versus private cloud services is fairly even and is not expected to change significantly over the next two years. Of the workloads in the cloud, organizations on average today are allocating 48% to publication clouds and 52% to private. Two years from now they expect to allocate 50% to each.
But with all the talk of companies shifting data and applications to the cloud these days, it’s perhaps most noteworthy that the report indicates many organizations are pulling workloads back inhouse.
In fact, more than 50% of the organizations that have deployed workloads to the public cloud have brought one or more back to on-premise systems. This represents a 14% increase over those that said this in a 2016 survey.
Why are they doing this reversal? The top reasons, according to the report, are a desire for more control over resources or data (40%); a need to comply with regulations (40%); need for greater reliability or performance (36%); cyber security concerns and/or events (35%), lack of monitoring capabilities (34%), support/service issues (33%), and a lack of/limited performance monitoring capabilities (33%).
Three quarters of those surveyed are more cautious compared with a year earlier when making the decision to move particular applications or workloads to the public cloud. While C-level executives are slightly more likely to hold this view, the results are relatively consistent across all titles of respondents and company sizes.
Cyber security continues to be a primary concern before deploying workloads in a public cloud platform, the study said.
When asked to identify concerns about choosing to deploy applications in a public cloud, respondents cited security concerns and/or events (58%), meeting compliance requirements (41%), reliability/performance issues (37%), level of control over resources or data (36%), integration issues (33%), lack of monitoring capabilities (30%), month-to-month cost variances (30%), high costs (29%), support/service issues (28%), manageability issues (28%), and issues with data portability (28%).
Determining security requirements is a top challenge when deciding which platforms are best suited for specific applications. Equally challenging is determining the storage requirements for these workloads. Half of the organizations will seek at least partial help from a third party in determining compliance requirements, assessing scalability requirements, and performing application interdependency analysis.