Cloud and Big Data still haven't breached the enterprise core, survey shows

New survey conducted across three user groups finds plenty of interest in new technology waves sweeping enterprises, but plenty of caution as well.

One can be forgiven for thinking that cloud, big data, the Internet of Things (IoT) and mobile are sweeping across the landscape like an unstoppable tidal wave, disrupting IT departments and their businesses in its wake.

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However, this perceived tidal wave may be more like wavelets of change, each bringing some new approaches and platform changes. IT leaders are looking twice, even three times, before riding these new technology waves into their mission-critical core applications.

That's the takeaway of the opening keynote I just presented to the Collaborate 2016 event in Las Vegas, hosted by the three primary independent Oracle user groups - Quest International Users Group, Oracle Applications User Group (OAUG) and Independent Oracle Users Group (IOUG). (OAUG is the user group for Oracle E-Business Suite users, Quest consists of PeopleSoft and JD Edwards users, while IOUG members are Oracle Database managers.)

In the keynote, I previewed the results of a survey I helped design and analyze across the three user groups, conducted as part of my work with Unisphere Research/Information Today, Inc. Our study examined future trends and technology among 690 members of the three groups.

The survey focused on four major "cornerstones" of enterprise IT transformation, including cloud, big data/IoT, mobile and security. Here is a very high-level summary of what we found in the survey:

  • Everyone in IT understands the potential these areas deliver to their businesses, and there is no argument these technology waves are delivering important benefits.
  • Enterprises are proceeding with an abundance of caution with cloud, big data/IoT and mobile when it comes to allowing them to touch their core enterprise applications. Security, potential costs, and difficulty finding the right skills are top worries when it comes to moving forward.

Overall, cloud is gaining traction for business services around the enterprise, such as those offered through Salesforce.com -- used by 40% of respondents. But adoption of cloud-based ERP/core enterprise applications (I use the two terms interchangeably) itself, or databases remains tepid.

For ERP/core enterprise suites and enterprise databases, at least eight in 10 remain on-premises, and will remain that way. Security, potential loss of control, data integration and potential migration difficulties are all seen as obstacles to moving more core enterprise applications into the cloud.

That's not to say people aren't interested in exploring moving particular applications or data sets to cloud. What is evolving are hybrid environments, in which key applications and data remain on-premises, but newer applications may be hosted somewhere else besides the corporate data center. Close to one in four respondents, in fact, state they intend to acquire at least some of their ERP functionality through subscription-based cloud services, with most indicating this is still a partial strategy.

Cloud database adoption is light and uneven. IOUG members--who work directly with the database side of enterprise operations--were asked about cloud databases. Nineteen percent report subscribing to public cloud-based database services, mainly for limited uses. Another 22% are considering such a move, meaning that a total of 41% are interested in cloud-based databases to some extent. Cloud databases are most often seen at this time among the smallest companies in the survey--26% of those with 500 or fewer employees report having at least some requirements addressed with public cloud databases, versus 15% of the largest organizations.

IoT is barely a flicker on enterprise radar screen at this time. The much-hyped IoT, linked to big data analytics, is only being put into action at a handful of enterprises -- about six percent --with only a handful planning implementations in the near future. Slow or uncertain adoption can be linked to the complexity of the undertaking -- companies need to understand and plan what kinds of data and software will be attached to products or devices, and what value they will gain from such efforts. How many businesses have even determined what questions they need to ask of the data coming in from devices or products across the globe?

Likewise, most executives and professionals are enthusiastic about the ability of mobile access to open up applications and data to employees, although mobility is still an elusive goal for many enterprises. The key benefits enterprises hope to see from mobile adoption include More employee access to analytics, dashboards and alerts (57%), enhanced collaboration and communication (54%), and more engagement with customers (47%). However, only three percent of respondents consider their organizations to be highly mobilized, and only 15% even see themselves as at least partially mobilized. There's plenty of work to be done.

(Disclosure: Quest, IOUG and OAUG compensated me for my work with this project.)

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