Cloud is ubiquitous: According to Gartner, spending on public cloud services is expected to reach $ 396 billion in 2021 and will increase by 21.7% to $ 482 billion in 2022. of less than 17% in 2021.
But to what extent do companies understand the potential benefits of the cloud – and possible limitations – when migrating? In an evolving, complex landscape, current offerings from large cloud players may not enable the important combination of flexibility and control that today’s organizations expect. At the same time, the number of business applications that use them is growing in all departments as companies embark on the path of digital transformation.
That means organizations may need to rethink and reevaluate common assumptions about cloud strategy, as well as reconsider some of their investment decisions. For example, companies increasingly do not want to be tied to a company’s software and are increasingly using open source software. An increasing number of cloud software services with open source expertise offer competitive alternatives to the proprietary portfolios of public cloud infrastructure companies.
As a result, the shape of cloud services – and the issues organizations need to consider – are changing. Here we address general assumptions about the cloud strategy and what companies should consider in order to take full advantage of the cloud.
Assumption: Migration to the cloud lowers costs and increases security
Two of the top arguments in favor of migrating to the cloud are the ability to reduce overall IT spending and take advantage of better security controls. While cost savings are possible, in many cases businesses pay extra for convenience and costs can pile up. For example, out-of-the-box cloud services are typically more expensive than self-hosted, on-premises infrastructure when managed like legacy IT infrastructure. In the cloud, companies pay for the flexibility to deploy, deprovision, and scale quickly, and have the ability to leverage that flexibility to cut costs.
This has resulted in a cloud repatriation: in 2019, IDC predicted that up to 50% of public cloud workloads would be repatriated to on-premises infrastructure or private cloud to take advantage of the best option for specific workloads.
In terms of security, the cloud can have more sophisticated controls that are easier to implement than on-premises infrastructure. However, the decentralized nature of the public cloud can create a more complex security posture over which the company may not have adequate control. A recent IDC survey found that almost every company has suffered some type of cloud data breach. This means that companies have to consider and evaluate the goals of their IT security environment in every area of the cloud stack.
Assumption: Sticking to a cloud provider is best for business
While it may be convenient, many enterprise-level organizations find that the standard box model of a large cloud provider does not meet their flexibility requirements. Demanding IT organizations can find ways to optimize costs and time to market by flexibly moving workloads between cloud providers and between cloud and on-premise.
It is also important to understand that “cloud providers” are not limited to the three major cloud infrastructure providers – as time goes on, more and more ISVs are becoming cloud providers themselves. For example, an advanced database user can rely on high performance, sophisticated behavior, and advanced configurations that are not available in the cloud provider’s managed offerings. Also, if this advanced database user is using an open source database like PostgreSQL, they likely want that area of their stack to be served by a provider that is at its core a database company, rather than an infrastructure company that handles hundreds of other applications and services. Thanks to the trend towards the unbundling of cloud services, companies can now regain more control over their database provision in the cloud.
While hybrid architectures can reduce costs and increase flexibility, the data-centric nature of organizations today presents additional challenges. Moving data and databases is difficult and time-consuming, and it can be particularly difficult to move away from proprietary cloud data services and withdraw. Independent cloud providers can enable cost savings by unbundling cloud provider services, which offers the freedom and flexibility that a cloud-agnostic approach offers.
Assumption: The cloud is a mature landscape that will not change
The cloud is one of the fastest growing areas of IT spending across industries. But while studies show that 92% of IT environments are already at least partially in the cloud, the introduction of the enterprise cloud is still in the beginning of a profound transformation for all companies. Far from a mature, static landscape, cloud technology is constantly evolving.
A major technology shift in the cloud over the past decade has been the continued dramatic reduction in the cost of computing power and infrastructure. The development of development tools and the use of programming languages have also become easier, which has made it possible to move development tools out of the sole responsibility of IT specialists and expand them to the rest of the company.
As companies ultimately prioritize regaining control of the convenience of a single public cloud, technical cloud expertise has spread across different service providers in different areas. These providers are becoming more and more creative when it comes to building a cloud service offering – such as Database as a Service – that is unbundled from the public cloud infrastructure and changes the definition of managed service.
The evolution of the cloud: a balancing act
While there is incredible growth and a tremendous amount of energy and discussion going on about the cloud, the cloud is still relatively early in development. What changes as organizations emerge from the early stages of cloud adoption is that organizations want to regain more control rather than remain tied to a single cloud provider. This leads to a multi-cloud approach that involves more dynamic delivery between traditional local and public clouds: According to Gartner’s 2020 study of cloud end-user buying behavior, 76% of respondents said they used more than one cloud provider .
New independent software vendors are entering this evolving landscape, changing the form of managed services to meet customer needs and offering more expertise in specific cloud domains and open source platforms. As cloud services go through this unbundling process and move away from the monolithic architecture, efforts towards cloud strategy ultimately become a balancing act between control and convenience. Companies have to strategically consider which services should be used by large cloud providers and which services independent cloud providers with the necessary expertise can offer.
This article was produced by Insights, the custom content division of MIT Technology Review. It was not written by the editorial staff of the MIT Technology Review.