RightScale and the state of the cloud

Has it really been a decade since the cloud first came to bear? Sometimes a look in the rearview mirror is worth getting misty-eyed for.

man person clouds tablet
Credit: Pexels

You'd have thought that 10 years spent commentating about technology in general and cloud in particular has meant that, when it comes to my vocation, there is no sentiment or emotion that comes to bear -- that things would be hard and completely analytical. But the truth, however, is that sometimes it is a little touching to take a look backward and see how far the cloud has come.

And what a way that is. I recall attending cloud computing conferences back in 2008 where we, the self-styled and slightly embarrassingly titled “Clouderati,” would gather together to help each other overcome the arrows that were often aimed in our direction. We where, you see, staunch proponents of the value of the cloud, back when many -- if not most -- commentators, vendors and technology users alike dismissed the cloud as "not a thing."

And so, RightScale's 2017 edition of its annual State of the Cloud Report is a nice chance to look back and see how far we've come. RightScale produces the reports every year, and this year the company surveyed over 1,000 technology professionals about a wide range of factors, all relating to their adoption of cloud computing. And while 1,000 is a small number of individuals given how big the broader enterprise IT space is, it's an interesting -- albeit small -- cross-section.

So what does this year's report tell us about cloud adoption?

Public cloud adoption grows as private cloud apparently wanes

Hybrid cloud is the preferred enterprise strategy, but private cloud adoption fell. Very interestingly -- especially for those who follow OpenStack and other initiatives that give organizations an easy private cloud on-ramp -- private cloud adoption fell from 77% to 72%, also bringing hybrid cloud adoption down from 71% to 67% year-over-year.

While this fall of private cloud adoption could be taken to suggest that organizations are settling on a single public cloud vendor, that does not seem to be the case -- 85% of enterprises have a multi-cloud strategy, up from 82% in 2016. Cloud seems to have moved beyond the tipping point and is now the default -- 95% of organizations surveyed are running applications or experimenting with infrastructure as a service.

For those who are doing private cloud, VMware vSphere continues to lead with 42% adoption, slightly below last year (44%). OpenStack (20%) and VMware vCloud Suite (19%) were also flat in growth, with OpenStack barely eking into the No. 2 slot.

Among enterprises, VMware vCloud Suite (28%) beats OpenStack (25%). Azure Pack/Stack was the only private cloud technology to show significant growth, up from 9% to 14%.

Azure increases market penetration, reducing the AWS lead

Of incredible interest to anyone who tracks the various public cloud vendors, overall Azure adoption grew from 20% to 34% of respondents, while AWS stayed flat at 57% of respondents. At the same time, and agreeing with other analyst assessments, Google also grew from 10% to 15% to maintain third position.

Azure also reduced the AWS lead among enterprises: Azure increased adoption significantly from 26% to 43%, while AWS adoption in this group increased slightly, from 56% to 59%.

Cloud users running applications in 8 clouds on average

Indicating just how complex modern enterprise IT actually is, the report found that cloud users are already running applications in an average of 1.8 public clouds and 2.3 private clouds. At the same time, they are experimenting with an additional 1.8 public clouds and 2.1 private clouds.

Companies run a majority of workloads in cloud

Perhaps there's some selection bias in here, but it is still interesting that respondents run 41% of workloads in public cloud and 38% in private cloud. Among enterprises, respondents run 32% of workloads in public cloud and 43% in private cloud.

Enterprise central IT teams take a stronger cloud role

Enterprise central IT has a broader view of its cloud role in 2017 that includes selecting public clouds (65%), deciding/advising on which apps move to cloud (63%) and selecting private clouds (63%). In comparison, respondents in business units are less likely to delegate authority to central IT for selecting public clouds (41%), deciding/advising on which apps move to cloud (45%) and selecting private clouds (38%).

Despite this disconnect, which could indicate some real battles looming between the CMO and CTO, enterprises continue to progress on cloud governance; 70% of respondents have now defined the value they want to achieve from cloud, up from 63% in 2016, while 53% now have a timeline for implementing a cloud strategy, up from 48% in 2016.

Cloud challenges decline: Expertise, security and spend tie for No. 1

Lack of resources/expertise, the No. 1 cloud challenge in 2016, was less of a challenge in 2017, with only 25% citing it as a major concern, down from  32% in 2016. In a eureka! moment, concerns about security also fell to 25% vs. 29% last year. Managing cloud spend fell only slightly, from 26% to 25%, to tie for the biggest challenge.

The most cited challenge among mature cloud users is managing costs (24%), while among cloud beginners it is security (32%).

Significant wasted cloud spend drives users to focus on costs

A little bit of self-justification here for RightScale, but notwithstanding that, it is interesting to hear that cloud users underestimate the amount of wasted cloud spend. Respondents estimate 30% waste, while RightScale has measured actual waste between 30% and 45%.

Despite an increased focus on cloud cost management, only a minority of companies are taking critical actions to optimize cloud costs, such as shutting down unused workloads or selecting lower-cost clouds or regions. Optimizing cloud costs is the top initiative across all cloud users (53%), especially among mature cloud users (64%).

Docker shoots into the lead for DevOps tools

Overall, DevOps adoption rises from 74% to 78%, with enterprises reaching 84%. Fully 30% of enterprises are adopting DevOps companywide, up from 21% in 2016.

Overall, Docker adoption surges to 35%, taking the lead over Chef and Puppet, at 28% each. Kubernetes adoption also grew strongly, to 14% from 7% in 2016. An even higher percentage of enterprises use Docker (40%), with 30% more planning to use it.

Many respondents use Docker through container-as-a-service offerings from cloud providers, including AWS ECS (35%), Azure Container Service (11%) and Google Container Engine (8%).

Use of Puppet and Chef fell this year from 32% to 28% of respondents for each. Ansible stayed steady, used by 21% of respondents vs. 20% in 2016.

Public cloud users still have a larger footprint in AWS

Despite the inroads being made by Google and Microsoft, AWS holds a significant lead in the number of VMs its users are running: Fully 28% of respondents have more than 100 VMs in AWS, while only 13% have more than 100 VMs in Azure. Among enterprises, 38% have 100-plus VMs in AWS, and 21% have 100-plus in Azure.

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