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Survey: 20% of workloads are in the cloud

ITWeb, in partnership with IBM, conducted a Hybrid Cloud Survey to examine the state of cloud adoption across South African businesses.

The majority (89%) of respondents say they play a role in their organisation’s decision making process around cloud adoption. 

Craig Holmes, Southern Africa Technology Leader at IBM, says: "Given the response statistics are representative of CXOs and senior IT leaders, this high percentage illustrates how prevalent cloud is as a topic in business today.”

As many as 85% of respondents say they use cloud (public or private) for their IT operations, while 12% aren’t currently using cloud but plan to within the next year or two. 

Holmes says he isn’t surprised by this but notes that "while everyone claims to be using cloud, we believe that only 20% of workloads have moved to the cloud: : complex enterprise applications and workloads are yet to move."

He says adds that is where the IBM value proposition around hybrid cloud is unique – ensuring clients and partners have a choice in terms of moving workloads to private and public clouds once they’ve done a formal analysis of the workloads to move.

Cloud drivers

The top three triggers or events leading to respondents either using or considering using cloud services are: business demanding more agility and/or speed from IT (59%); modernisation and replatforming (38%); and functionality or services only found in cloud offerings (31%). 

“The rapid rise of open source, garage practices, agile development, design thinking and the need to innovate against Internet companies and born-on-the-cloud entities has put tremendous pressure on IT departments that are managing complex production systems with limited skilled resources," says Holmes. "We’ve seen an increase in business needs spilling over into ‘shadow IT’ and the use of cloud systems and applications as an alternative.”

While everyone claims to be using cloud, we believe that only 20% of workloads have moved to the cloud: complex enterprise applications and workloads are yet to move.

Asked what their company’s overall approach to cloud would be for the next 12 -18 months, 49% of respondents selected 'hybrid cloud' (private and public cloud): 'we plan to migrate large proportion of workloads on both public and private clouds in a hybrid environment'. 

17% chose 'mostly public cloud': 'we plan to have most workloads on public cloud and only a few workloads on-premise and on private cloud'. 

14% said their strategy was for private cloud only: 'we plan to have all infrastructure and applications on-premise and in hosted private cloud but none at all on public cloud'. 

Holmes says he thinks this needs to be analysed further by industry. “I suspect we’d see a skew of the above results between regulated and unregulated industries. Shifting workloads, including non-production environments, is a natural route for public cloud.”

The technology considerations most impacting respondents’ move to cloud were prioritised as follows: security: critical and regulatory workloads (62%); manageability: standardisation (54%); and agility: containers (35%). 

“This is as expected. At IBM we’re seeing security as a must-have capability and not a grudge purchase – just ask a CXO what he would have paid for security after a breach!”

Cloud priorities

The top three business priorities that will be most impacted by cloud adoption in the next 12-18 months are: driving innovation (49%); driving distributed (49%); and accelerating business process transformation (49%). Transforming customer experience (45%) was also a priority. 

“I think these are excellent responses given what cloud is there for," noted Holmes. "With IBM’s RedHat acquisition, the concept of build-once / deploy anywhere has become a reality that’s driving innovation, speed and consistency.”

Respondents were asked to identify the current stage of cloud adoption for their company. Holmes says the outcome endorses the IBM global view that only 20% of workloads have been moved to the cloud.

  • Stage 1: Discovery and evaluation of cloud (18%)
  • Stage 2: Running trials and pilot projects (14%)
  • Stage 3: Using cloud for test and development environment (13%)
  • Stage 4: Initial implementation of production applications (28%)
  • Stage 5: Broad implementation of production applications (27%).

Asked to list the IT vendors that come to mind when deploying hybrid cloud, 81% of respondents named Microsoft (81%), followed by AWS (61%), IBM (44%), VMware (39%) and Oracle (28%).

“I think the high scores for Microsoft and AWS reflect the fact they are physically invested in SA. However, I know of several clients who are still using their European data centres. The IBM Hybrid (multi-cloud) approach is gaining traction with clients and partners who want choice and flexibility as to where to put their workloads. Our RedHat Openshift Cloud Platform and our integrated software portfolio gives clients and partners that flexibility.”

A third (32%) of respondents say they’ll have multiple cloud environments to migrate workloads between within the next 12-18 months. 25% say they’ll focus on a single cloud environment. Holmes says it’s clear that clients increasingly want to remain in control of their decisions.

Regulation and security are still critical aspects that are seeing clients keeping workloads on-premises or in the private cloud.

Some 35% of respondents say they’re currently pursuing a hybrid strategy involving integrated on-premises systems and off-premises cloud/hosted resources, while 43% say they’re looking to/planning to pursue such a hybrid strategy and 23% say they aren’t looking to pursue a hybrid strategy. “Regulation and security are still critical aspects that are seeing clients keeping workloads on-premises or in the private cloud.”

Asked to highlight the more important operational challenges that they face or foresee from their hybrid multi-cloud strategy in the next 12- 18 months, 22% of respondents say ensuring consistent security, access control and compliance, 16% say ensuring adequate IT talent and skills availability, 13% say not having a hybrid multi-cloud strategy and 11% say achieving desired business outcomes is a concern. 

Holmes says that not only does he expect and endorse the first two points; they would also be his choice.

About the survey

The ITWeb/IBM Hybrid Cloud Survey ran online for four weeks during February 2021 and asked, among other things:

1. What triggers or events led to the adoption of cloud services?

2. What is the company’s overall approach to cloud in the next 12-18 months?

3. Which business priorities will be impacted by cloud adoption?

A total of 339 responses were captured from respondents including CTOs, CDOs, CIOs, IT directors and managers. Representation was across a wide range of industries.

Follow the Key Findings and the Graphs links