Survey: less worry about cloud security, but governance still a question mark

Survey of 1,000 enterprises finds most are comfortable with cloud computing, but need to get a better grip on wasted spending, now seen at one-third of implementations.

Managers and professionals are growing more comfortable with cloud computing for their enterprises, and security is less of a showstopper than it was just a couple of years ago. However, cloud in the enterprise is still ungoverned territory. IT leaders need to take the reigns in terms of centralizing services, brokerages, reducing wasted cloud spending, and promoting a DevOps culture.

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Photo: Joe McKendrick

These are some of the findings from RightScale's latest survey of the cloud landscape, covering 1,002 executives, managers and professionals from various industries. In this latest survey, cloud challenges declined across the board with the exception of governance/control, which remained flat, the survey's authors report. This year, expertise, security, and spend were all tied for the top challenge with 25 percent of respondents citing each as a significant challenge.

Concerns about security actually fell to 25 percent vs. 29 percent last year, the survey finds. Even among enterprise central IT teams, who typically have the most responsibility for security, there has been a significant decline in security concerns among this group over the last few years.

Lack of resources and expertise, the top cloud challenge in 2016, is less of a challenge this year, with only 25 percent citing it as a major concern, down significantly from 32 percent. Managing cloud spend fell slightly, from 26 to 25 percent.

The survey finds a continuing disconnect in terms of cloud governance. There has been a shift toward centralization, with more central IT teams taking a broader view of their role in cloud. They see a role for themselves in selecting public clouds (65 percent), deciding/advising on which apps to move to cloud (63 percent), and selecting private clouds (63 percent). Increasingly, they are tasked with assembling a hybrid portfolio of supported clouds, RightScale finds. The top priority for central IT teams is to leverage hybrid cloud (50 percent vs. 39 percent in 2016).

However, there is now a significant gap between the view of central IT and that of the business units they support. Respondents in business units are less likely to delegate authority to central IT for selecting public clouds (41 percent), deciding/advising on which apps to move to cloud (45 percent), and selecting private clouds (38 percent).

Despite this disconnect, the survey's authors observe, seven out of 10 respondents have now "defined the value they want to achieve from cloud," up from 63 percent in 2016. A majority, 53 percent, now have a timeline for implementing a cloud strategy, up from 48 percent in 2016. Enterprises also made progress in defining which applications should move to cloud.

At the same time, there are several areas of governance where enterprises failed to make headway, including cost policies (39 percent), approval policies (37 percent), and availability/DR policies (36 percent).

Managing financial resources is also a sticky area for cloud as well. The survey authors conclude that cloud users are underestimating the amount of "wasted" cloud spend. Respondents estimate 30 percent waste, while RightScale has measured actual waste between 30 and 45 percent. So, at least one-third of cloud service subscriptions are being renewed on a continuous basis, but not being used.

"Only a minority of companies are taking critical actions to optimize cloud costs, such as shutting down unused workloads or selecting lower-cost cloud or regions," the survey's authors state. "This represents an opportunity for increased efficiency and increased savings."

The importance of tight governance may only increase, as enterprise cloud environments grow more sophisticated, and yes, more complex. Cloud users running applications in four clouds, on average, and experimenting with four more. The percentage of enterprises that have a strategy to use multiple clouds grew to 85 percent, up from 82 percent in 2016, with 58 percent planning on hybrid, up from 55 percent. There was also an increase in the number of enterprises planning for multiple public clouds -- up from 16 percent to 20 percent.

Companies are also now running a majority of their workloads in the cloud -- 41 percent in public cloud and 38 percent in private cloud. "It's important to note that the workloads running in private cloud may include workloads running in existing virtualized environments or bare-metal environments that have been 'cloudified,' the RightScale team notes.

DevOps is becoming a key approach to managing cloud implementations, the survey also indicates, becoming "the default approach for developing cloud-based applications." Overall DevOps adoption increased from 74 to 78 percent this year, with larger enterprise adoption reaching 84 percent. In this survey, there has been a significant jump in the percentage of enterprises that are adopting DevOps company-wide, from 21 percent to 30 percent.

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