Taking the pulse of cloud adoption trends: The Flexera “State of the Cloud” report

Posted June 23, 2021 by Jeremiah Morrow, Senior Industry Product Marketing Manager

Before I joined Vertica, I worked in the cloud services world, first for a reseller and then for a Cloud Services Provider (CSP). During my time in this space I followed cloud adoption trends closely by necessity, and one of my favorite sources of data on the subject was RightScale’s (now Flexera’s)  “State of the Cloud” report. It’s one of the best free sources of survey data on how companies are thinking about cloud services, and I still use it for presentations and other content.

As I read through this year’s report, I had a couple of observations I thought I’d share. And regardless of what you think of my notions here, I encourage you to read the report.

  1. The draw of multi-cloud, and hybrid environments

The world is still trending towards multi-cloud and hybrid cloud. The report suggests that customers are more open to moving sensitive data to the cloud than they were in previous years, an interesting trend. (See #3 below.) The report includes a heat map of different data types, and reflects whether survey respondents plan to move data to the cloud or keep it on-prem, or a mixture of both.

  1. What metrics are used to measure cloud adoption progress?

Cost efficiency/savings is the metric for success that 76% of companies are using. I remember in 2017, when I was at the Gartner IODC conference, one of the analysts threw up a word cloud of reasons customers moved to the cloud. Cost savings was not even in the top 5, because everyone knew by then that the cost savings the public clouds were promising were not realistic.

Yet many companies are still looking for cost savings, and when you combine that with cost management, cloud governance, and adoption of PaaS services that take much of the control out of the hands of the customer, it’s a precarious situation for cloud teams to be in.

  1. Security is back on top as a challenge

Yep, the challenge of security is overtaking “Managing Cloud Spend” and “Cloud Governance.” There is some nuance to cloud security. A lot of smaller companies rightly understand that they don’t necessarily have the resources to do security as well as the Big 3 – Amazon, Google, and Microsoft. And later in the report, we do see that there is more willingness among organizations of all sizes to put sensitive data in the cloud. Yet due to the rapid evolution of security threats and the constant risk associated with data breaches – both on-prem and in the cloud – security will remain a top concern. It just isn’t the deal-breaker it once was for cloud adoption.

  1. Differences between SMBs and enterprise orgs

There are very real differences between SMBs and Enterprise organizations in how they think about the cloud. While SMBs have more data and workloads in the cloud than enterprises, enterprises have a higher rate of adoption of containers, Platform-as-a-Service, and configuration tools like Terraform and Ansible, as well as implementing organizational measures like a Cloud Center of Excellence. SMBs point to a lack of skills and expertise as a major challenge more frequently than enterprises do. And while AWS still holds a clear lead for both enterprises and SMBs, SMBs have a much greater interest in alternatives like Google, VMware Cloud on AWS, and Azure.

The talent gap speaks to the greatest difference in how enterprises and SMBs are using cloud. Enterprises have more access to cloud talent, and are more likely to hire a service provider to help with their cloud projects. SMBs might have less complicated paths to migration and adoption, but they struggle with a lack the resources to experiment with capabilities up the stack.

  1. Some trends are universal, but many vary based on org size and cloud maturity

Azure is catching up with AWS, and GCP still lags behind them both by a significant margin. I think Microsoft’s access to decision makers through their licensing agreements is their biggest opportunity to close the gap. Cloud data warehouse and cloud relational DBaaS are at the top of cloud PaaS services, which is not a huge surprise given the data growth companies are experiencing. Companies invested in experimentation put machine learning and AI at the top of their reasons for cloud adoption. We see this with our customers who have adopted Vertica in Eon Mode. Cloud-optimized separation of compute and storage is an enabler of machine learning.

There’s plenty more to unpack in this year’s “State of the Cloud” report, which you can download for free. If you’re a company that has embarked on your own cloud journey, it offers a source of validation and inspiration as you work through your challenges. And for vendors like Vertica who are a part of a vast cloud ecosystem, it’s important that we keep a pulse on what our customers are working through, as they move data and workloads to the cloud. I hope you read and enjoy!