'State of the Cloud' report: Vendors make inroads on dominant players

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Every year cloud management vendor RightScale runs a survey of cloud adoption. The results are always interesting reading.

This year's RightScale "State of the Cloud" report is, as in previous years, interesting reading. In particular, it is interesting to see subtle changes in the cloud industry makeup with vendors starting to make inroads on dominant players. The report also tends to be something of a bellwether for new technology adoption, hence, the statistics around both DevOps and Docker were interesting to see. Enough with the commentary -- on to the findings.

Hybrid cloud

In something of an indication that cloud generally is hitting the mainstream, the report found that hybrid cloud adoption grew significantly from last year.

  • Private cloud adoption increased from 63% to 77%, driving hybrid cloud adoption up from 58% to 71% year over year.
  • 82% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy, holding steady from 2015.
  • 95% of organizations surveyed are running applications or experimenting with infrastructure as a service.

MyPOV: Greater adoption by those already adopting hybrid cloud, but a surprisingly steady state in terms of companies having a hybrid cloud strategy. I wonder if this is an indication of a greater move to the public cloud, or simply the last vestiges of conservative companies not willing to move to cloud of any flavor?

Cloud security

Eureka. After years of fear, uncertainty and denial from traditional technology vendors, it would appear that security is no longer the top cloud challenge.

  • Lack of resources/expertise is now the No. 1 cloud challenge (cited by 32%), supplanting security (cited by 29%).
  • Even the most security-conscious respondents -- enterprise central IT teams and security pros -- no longer see security as the No. 1 challenge.

MyPOV: I say it regularly, but refreshingly less regularly than a few years ago: Cloud is, all things considered, likely more secure than an organization's traditional on-premises IT infrastructure. I've seen a worrying number of servers sitting in dusty broom closets or a single layer of drywall away from the public world. It is very refreshing to see IT practitioners adopt a more progressive, pragmatic and realistic attitude toward security.

Cloud cost management

As usage increases, it is perhaps unsurprising that cloud cost challenges increase, but sadly, optimization efforts lag.

  • 26% of respondents identified cloud cost management as a significant challenge, a steady increase each year from 18% in 2013.
  • Cloud cost management provides a significant opportunity for savings, since few companies are taking critical actions to optimize cloud costs, such as shutting down unused workloads or selecting lower-cost cloud or regions.

MyPOV: There is no excuse for not having a good understanding of what resources an organization is consuming, be they human, utility or IT. Cloud is simply a subset of this, and as cloud adoption generally increases, it is increasingly important to ensure that cloud usage is as effective and efficient as possible.

New technologies

As for the new technologies, some empirical data, at last, to show that DevOps is growing and Docker spreading like wildfire, especially in the enterprise.

  • Overall DevOps adoption rose from 66% to 74%, with enterprises reaching 81%.
  • Overall Docker adoption more than doubled, to 27% vs. 13% in 2015; another 35% have plans to use Docker.
  • An even higher percentage of enterprises use Docker (29%) and plan to use it (38%).
  • Use of Puppet and Chef also grew, with each now used by 32% of respondents. Ansible made strong gains, used by 20% of respondents vs. 10% in 2015.

MyPOV: This is particularly interesting. On the one hand, it is very easy to listen to all the Silicon Valley cool kids and assume that every organization is at the very cutting edge of adopting new technologies. On the other hand, living as I do away from the U.S., I am all too aware of the realities for enterprises that have to worry about keeping the lights on and don't have the time to assess emergent technologies rapidly. That said, it is interesting to see both the rise in DevOps adoption and, more markedly, the rapid rise in the adoption of Docker. While many people suggest that Docker in particular and containers in general are merely a flash in the pan, this data suggests otherwise.

Public cloud providers

No surprises that Amazon Web Services (AWS) continues to lead in public cloud adoption, but interesting that Azure (IaaS and PaaS) gains ground.

  • Overall, AWS is used by 57% of respondents, flat from last year. Enterprise adoption of AWS grew from 50% to 56%, while adoption by smaller businesses fell slightly, from 61% to 58%.
  • Azure IaaS grew strongly from 12% to 17% adoption, while Azure PaaS grew from 9% to 13%.
  • Combined, 20% of respondents use Azure (IaaS, PaaS or both) as compared to 57% for AWS.
  • This year, RightScale asked users if they use DigitalOcean (5%) and Oracle Cloud (4%).

MyPOV: AWS is the undisputed public cloud leader. In a recent earnings call, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella even admitted this clearly. AWS is outgunning all comers. That said, I have personally been very impressed at the speed that Microsoft is displaying: It is developing its product offering rapidly, proving successful at converting its more traditional customers over to Azure, and placing some impressive bets in the broader cloud space. The DigitalOcean and Oracle results are surprising -- pretty amazing to see a relatively small and unknown startup score more highly than a company with a massive existing footprint within the enterprise. This survey will cause Oracle execs to worry anew about whether the company can really be a meaningful cloud infrastructure player.

Private cloud providers

Finally, and in a confirmation that public cloud isn't for everyone, private cloud adoption grew across all providers.

  • VMware vSphere continues to lead with strong year-over-year growth: 44% of all respondents reported they use it as a private cloud.
  • OpenStack and VMware vCloud Suite both showed strong growth and remain tied at 19% adoption overall. VMware vCloud Suite holds the No. 2 slot among enterprises, while OpenStack is No. 2 among business with fewer than 1,000 employees.
  • Bare-metal cloud was included in the survey for the first time and is used by 15% of respondents.

MyPOV: VMware, often criticized for being slow off the mark when it comes to cloud, will like these results. Whether enterprises pause given the lack of clarity around VMware's future in the planned Dell/EMC hookup remains to be seen. It will also be seen as broadly positive for OpenStack, an initiative that seems eternally under a cloud of criticism. Interesting that OpenStack has the edge within smaller businesses compared to VMware.

All in all an interesting survey, and one which will give customers clarity and security around vendor choices -- and give vendors much to think about.

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