Enterprises taking path of greatest resistance to cloud, survey shows

Most enterprise systems and assets are on-premises, requiring skills and foresight for cloud moves.
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer

If you are tasked with moving your enterprise to the cloud, and are finding it slower-going than expected, or more complicated than thought, you are not alone.

Photo: Joe McKendrick

Moving to the cloud doesn't mean simply plopping data and wares on someone's cloud service, and taking it from there. For organizations that still rely on on-premises systems and assets -- and there are a lot of them -- it means figuring out how to fit and adapt these systems and the processes they support into a cloud arrangement. IT takes investment in new technologies, it takes skills to make the move, it takes perception to know the right moves to make.

A new survey of 450 executives finds that while all attention as of late has been on efforts to modernize and cloudify corporate technology, a large majority of enterprise applications remain "trapped" on-premises. IT executives and leaders are often surprised by the skills they find they need to make cloud moves.

It's not that technology leaders aren't trying to get things moved over to the cloud. While the majority of technology executives, 67 percent, want to migrate most of their existing applications to the cloud in two years or less, they are in desperate need of the skills to do so, the survey, published by and conducted by 451 Research, finds.

For starters, not as many enterprise applications as one may think have been bounced to the cloud. More than 80 percent of respondents have more than 100 applications under their purview, and a solid majority have a good deal still managed on-premises. The survey finds 74 percent stating at least half of these applications are on-premises. Another 71 percent of respondents see many of their on-premises applications as mission-critical to their business.

Yet, the report's authors state, "enterprises are choosing the path of most resistance, unintentionally creating a self-induced cloud skills gap." That consists of cloud migration strategies that require the highest degree of IT skills -- 49 percent cited refactoring or rewriting applications as their primary modernization strategy.

One in five, 20 percent, say they are rewriting core applications from scratch using cloud-native PaaS services. Another 28 percent are refactoring applications for the cloud using cloud-natuive and traditional applications. Another 20 percent are outright replacing applications with SaaS-based applications. About 12 percent are taking a "lift-and-shift" approach to simply move entire applications to hosted services.

The survey also looked at the methodolgies adopted for enterprise cloud-migration strategies. Survey respondents indicated their involvement in an array of methodologies led by DevOps (54 percent) and Agile (45 percent). The so-called Waterfall approach is being used amiong 36 percvent. Another 24 percent employ skills borne in ITIL.

"As more enterprises migrate to public cloud, we expect this transition will correlate to increased adoption of progressive methodologies - DevOps, Agile, Six Sigma and Twelve-Factor - that are embraced by public cloud providers and many of their users," the survey report's authors predict.

Embarking on the most arduous path to cloud may be one reason why 55 percent of respondents cited people capable of migrating existing applications to the cloud as their most critical recruiting need. "The sheer mass and complexity of on-premises application portfolios, combined with the propensity for some to choose the most arduous path to cloud by re-writing and re-architecting, creates a painful skills challenge that requires a more patient, progressive approach to achieve success."

Maybe the migration to cloud is slow because not every application is suited for cloud. At least half of respondents cite common, core business applications including CRM, ERP, and data analytics as least-suited for hyper-scale clouds. In addition, they say both a lack of skills to manage these applications and an inability to deliver new features as current challenges in their operations.

IT executives have high hopes for the cloud once they get there: nearly two-thirds of respondents expect their cloud implementations to lead to better customer responsiveness and to help them be more competitive.

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