The COVID-19 pandemic has not only sent countries into lockdown, but instantly pivoted or advanced businesses' digital strategies, including the trend toward more cloud adoption. Thanks to an extensive number of vendors offering a variety of features to meet their needs, many businesses have discovered that it's much easier to manage multiple cloud providers than ever before.
ZDNet's sister site, TechRepublic Premium conducted an online survey to learn more about how enterprises manage multicloud. Respondents answered questions about which public cloud platforms they use and for what functions, the benefits and challenges of managing multiple cloud providers, the impact of COVID-19 on cloud strategies, and why some companies were opposed to taking a multicloud approach.
Implementing a multicloud strategy remains popular among enterprises, as the majority of survey respondents (81%) currently use or plan to use services from multiple cloud providers within the next 12 months. This number rose from a similar survey conducted last year, in which more than two-thirds of survey respondents (69%) were or planned to deploy multicloud. The COVID-19 pandemic has also accelerated plans that were already in place or expanded cloud services for 40% of respondents and has caused 9% to create a cloud policy.
Survey respondents who actively use multiple cloud providers cited many benefits. Avoiding vendor lock-in was the most popular advantage for 74% and 73% of respondents in 2020 and 2019, respectively. Competitive pricing as a benefit dropped slightly from 65% in 2019 to 58% this year. Ease of scaling workloads (51%) and resistance to outages (49%) held favor for about half of this year's respondents, at a slight increase from last year. Regulatory compliance also saw a small uptick in popularity as a benefit this year.
Despite the many benefits of taking a multicloud approach, challenges do remain. Complexity was cited as the biggest challenge by even more survey respondents (74%) this year than last year. Security followed at 60%, then managing costs and migrating apps tied at 40%. Last year, migrating apps and security were a challenge for 48% of respondents, while managing costs was an issue for 43%.
There's no shortage of available cloud service providers. Most survey respondents prefer the big-name providers such as Microsoft Azure (79%), Amazon Web Services (AWS) (56%), or Google Cloud Platform (35%) for their cloud computing needs. Respondents also use Oracle Cloud (16%), IBM Cloud (16%), and Alibaba Cloud (7%). Only 5% of respondents opt for Tencent Cloud and Fujitsu Cloud Services, which was the same number last year. Interestingly, 44% of survey respondents use specialized application/service providers such as Dropbox, Salesforce, Cloudflare, and others, even though these are closer to services than they are to cloud platforms. That number increased from 32% last year.
This list of top cloud platforms has not changed much from last year, where Microsoft Azure (78%) and Amazon Web Services (AWS) (77%) dominated the list of cloud platforms deployed. Google Cloud Platform followed with 43%. Other respondents mentioned using Oracle Cloud (23%), IBM Cloud (13%), and Alibaba Cloud (12%).
Based on this survey, a significant number of companies (19%) have no plan to use multiple cloud providers, which is about the same as the 2019 survey. Complexity and cost tied as the top factors for why companies were not taking a multicloud approach. Other barriers cited included security and workloads not conducive to parallel deployment. Thirteen percent of respondents are returning to a single cloud provider or on-premises system. These results stayed in line with last year's survey.