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Survey Reveals Cloud Use, Challenges, and Plans

A new survey sheds light on how enterprises are working with cloud-native technologies.

As enterprises evaluate, embrace, and deploy cloud technology, a new survey from O'Reilly Media highlights the progress companies have made in adopting cloud-native infrastructure and the challenges they face. It explores several aspects of the cloud, including containers, orchestration, and microservices. A report on the survey results, "How Companies Adopt and Apply Cloud Native Infrastructure," was released this week.

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The report breaks down respondents by experience levels: new (organizations that have used cloud-native infrastructure for less than a year), early (one to three years of use), and sophisticated (over three years of experience with cloud-native technology). Many in the sophisticated category work at software companies. Finance and banking have a large number of "new" respondents, possibly because "a legacy of outdated back office applications and regulatory and security concerns makes the migration to cloud native for those in finance that much more difficult," O'Reilly notes. Of those enterprises that have already moved to cloud-native infrastructure, 72 percent adopted it within the last three years, putting them in the "new" or "early" categories.

Over two-thirds of respondents have adopted or begun to adopt cloud-native infrastructure. Nearly half of respondents to the survey say lack of skills is the top challenge they're facing; migrating from legacy architectures and concerns about security and compliance were other top worries. "That [the] lack of skills is a much bigger factor than hiring shows respondents are trying to adopt cloud native on their own -- a sign that organizations are fundamentally structuring themselves around cloud native architectures, not looking to hire that skill from outside." Respondents with less than three years of experience "struggle significantly more with lack of skills and company culture than the other categories, suggesting these are issues organizations should consider tackling first when adopting cloud native," the report explains.

Of the third of respondents (32 percent) who report not having adopted cloud-native infrastructure, lack of skills is the leading impediment cited, followed by company culture and "migrating from a monolith." Almost 15 percent of these organizations plan to adopt cloud-native infrastructure within a year; another 30 percent plan to do so within two years. However, 27 percent of respondents say they have no cloud-native plans. O'Reilly couldn't determine the reason for this resistance but cautions that "this result may also reflect the newness of the space, as some organizations might not yet realize how important cloud native is and will be."

Four in ten respondents say they're using a hybrid cloud architecture. O'Reilly notes that a hybrid model "can accommodate data that can't be on a public cloud and can serve as an interim architecture for organizations migrating to a cloud native architecture." Thirty percent of respondents are using a public cloud, and less than 20 percent use a private cloud.

There are several differences based on cloud maturity. For example, the report notes that "the more sophisticated the respondent's cloud implementation, the more likely they are to use public cloud providers. Those new to the cloud are more likely to use hybrid cloud options."

Enterprises are also not tying themselves to a single vendor; nearly half (48 percent) use two or more cloud vendors.

Amazon AWS is the preferred vendor regardless of cloud maturity levels, with roughly three-quarters of all respondents saying they use the service for their public cloud. Microsoft Azure is second (at about 43 percent overall but over 50 percent of all "new" respondents), and Google Cloud is third (at about 37 percent). For those with a multicloud environment, popular combinations of vendors include AWS and Microsoft Azure (18 percent), AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud (15 percent), and AWS and Google Cloud (14 percent).

The longer you work with the cloud, the more likely you are to be successful. The report points out that "Sophisticated respondents had by far the largest share of extreme success with their cloud native adoption. More than 90% of sophisticated respondents rated their cloud native implementations as mostly successful or better, and no sophisticated respondents felt their implementations were unsuccessful."

Of those using cloud-native infrastructure, 47 percent say DevOps teams are responsible for management. These same respondents report that 88 percent use containers and 69 percent use orchestration tools (such as Kubernetes).

For enterprises evaluating the cloud, Robert Magoulas, VP of O'Reilly Radar, offers this advice: "[T]rue cloud native success takes time. Start small and focus on the shift of services gradually while investing in the transition. As the cloud native market continues to develop, we expect to see many opportunities for tools and training to help ease the transition to new architectures and to bridge the cloud native skills gap."

About the Author

James E. Powell is the editorial director of TDWI, including research reports, the Business Intelligence Journal, and Upside newsletter. You can contact him via email here.

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