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RightScale 2017 State of the Cloud Report
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Cloud Computing Trends: 2017 State of the Cloud Survey

Cloud Computing Trends: 2017 State of the Cloud Survey

In January 2017, RightScale conducted its sixth annual State of the Cloud Survey of the latest cloud computing trends, with a focus on infrastructure-as-a-service. In 2017, we see several new themes emerging: a narrowing race among public cloud providers, decrease in private cloud adoption, a renewed focus among enterprises on optimizing cloud costs, and strong growth in Docker.

This is the largest survey on the use of cloud infrastructure that is focused on cloud buyers and users, as opposed to cloud vendors. Their answers provide a comprehensive perspective on the state of the cloud today.

The survey asked 1,002 IT professionals about their adoption of cloud infrastructure and related technologies. Forty-eight percent of the respondents represented enterprises with more than 1,000 employees. The margin of error is 3.07 percent.

We highlight several key findings from the survey in this blog post. For the complete survey results, download the RightScale 2017 State of the Cloud Report.

Hybrid Cloud Is the Preferred Enterprise Strategy, but Private Cloud Adoption Fell

  • 85 percent of enterprises have a multi-cloud strategy, up from 82 percent in 2016.
  • Private cloud adoption fell from 77 percent to 72 percent, also bringing hybrid cloud adoption down from 71 percent to 67 percent year-over-year.

Cloud Users Are Running Applications in Multiple Clouds

  • Cloud users are running applications in an average of 1.8 public clouds and 2.3 private clouds.

Companies Run a Majority of Workloads in Cloud

  • Respondents run 41 percent of workloads in public cloud and 38 percent in private cloud.
  • Among enterprises, respondents run 32 percent of workloads in public cloud and 43 percent 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 percent), deciding/advising on which apps move to cloud (63 percent), and selecting private clouds (63 percent).
  • In comparison, respondents in business units are less likely to delegate authority to central IT for selecting public clouds (41 percent), deciding/advising on which apps move to cloud (45 percent), and selecting private clouds (38 percent).

Cloud Challenges Decline Overall: Expertise, Security, and Spend Tie for #1

  • Lack of resources/expertise, the #1 cloud challenge in 2016, is less of a challenge in 2017 with only 25 percent citing it as a major concern, down from  32 percent in 2016.
  • Concerns about security also fell to 25 percent vs. 29 percent last year.
  • The most cited challenge among mature cloud users is managing costs (24 percent).

Significant Wasted Cloud Spend Drives Users to Focus on Costs

  • Cloud users underestimate the amount of wasted cloud spend. Respondents estimate 30 percent waste, while RightScale has measured actual waste between 30 and 45 percent.
  • Optimizing cloud costs is the top initiative across all cloud users (53 percent) and especially among mature cloud users (64 percent).

Docker Shoots Into the Lead for DevOps Tools

  • Overall Docker adoption surges to 35 percent, taking the lead over Chef and Puppet at 28 percent each.
  • Kubernetes adoption also grew strongly to 14 percent from 7 percent in 2016.

Azure Increases Market Penetration, Reducing the AWS Lead

  • Overall Azure adoption grew from 20 to 34 percent of respondents, while AWS stayed flat at 57 percent of respondents.
  • Google also grew from 10 to 15 percent to maintain third position.

Public Cloud Users Still Have a Larger Footprint in AWS

  • AWS holds a significant lead in the number of VMs its users are running: 28 percent of respondents have more than 100 VMs in AWS, while only 13 percent have more than 100 VMs in Azure.
  • Among enterprises, 38 percent have 100+ VMs in AWS, and 21 percent have 100+ in Azure.

Private Cloud Adoption Flattens

  • Azure Pack/Stack is the only private cloud technology to show significant growth, up from 9 percent to 14 percent.
  • VMware vSphere continues to lead with 42 percent adoption, slightly below last year (44 percent).

Cloud Computing Trends: Key Findings

Hybrid Cloud Is the Preferred Enterprise Strategy, but Private Cloud Adoption Fell

In the twelve months since the last State of the Cloud Survey, we’ve seen private cloud adoption fall slightly. The percent of respondents now adopting private cloud is 72 percent, down from 77 percent last year. As a result, use of hybrid cloud environments has fallen to 67 percent from 71 percent last year. In total, 95 percent of respondents are now using cloud.  

Cloud Computing Trends 2017 Cloud Adoption

The percentage of enterprises that have a strategy to use multiple clouds grew to 85 percent (vs. 82 percent in 2016) with 58 percent planning on hybrid (vs. 55 percent in 2016). There was also an increase in the number of enterprises planning for multiple public clouds (up from 16 percent to 20 percent) and a concurrent decrease in those planning for multiple private clouds (down from 11 percent to 7 percent).

Cloud Computing Trends 2017 Hybrid Cloud Use

Cloud Users Are Running Applications in Multiple Clouds

Companies that use public cloud are already running applications in an average of 1.8 public clouds and experimenting with another 1.8 public clouds. While fewer companies are using private clouds, those that do use more, running applications in an average of 2.3 private clouds and experimenting with an additional 2.1 private clouds.

Cloud Computing Trends 2017 How Many Clouds Used

Companies Run a Majority of Workloads in Cloud

Companies now run 79 percent of workloads in cloud, with 41 percent of workloads in public cloud and 38 percent in private cloud. It’s important to note that the workloads running in private cloud may include workloads running in existing virtualized environments or bare-metal environments that have been “cloudified.”

Cloud Computing Trends 2017 Workloads in Cloud

Enterprises run 75 percent of workloads in cloud with more in private cloud (43 percent) vs. public cloud (32 percent). SMBs run 83 percent of workloads in cloud with more in public cloud (50 percent) vs. private cloud (33 percent).

Cloud Computing Trends 2017 Enterprise Workloads in Cloud

Enterprise Central IT Teams Take a Stronger Cloud Role

This year we saw a strong shift toward centralization, with more central IT teams taking a broader view of their role in cloud. They see a role for themselves in selecting public clouds (65 percent), deciding/advising on which apps to move to cloud (63 percent), and selecting private clouds (63 percent).

Cloud Computing Trends 2017 Enterprise Central IT View of Role

However, there is now a significant gap between the view of central IT and that of the business units they support. Respondents in business units are less likely to delegate authority to central IT for selecting public clouds (41 percent), deciding/advising on which apps to move to cloud (45 percent), and selecting private clouds (38 percent).

Cloud Computing Trends 2017 Enterprise Views of Role of IT in Cloud

Cloud Challenges Decline Overall: Expertise, Security, and Spend Tie for #1

In 2017, cloud challenges declined across the board with the exception of governance/control, which remained flat. This year expertise, security, and spend were all tied for the top challenge with 25 percent of respondents citing each as a significant challenge.

Lack of resources/expertise, the #1 cloud challenge in 2016, was less of a challenge in 2017 with only 25 percent citing it as a major concern, down significantly from 32 percent in 2016. Concerns about security fell to 25 percent vs. 29 percent last year. Managing cloud spend fell only slightly from 26 to 25 percent.

Cloud Computing Trends 2017 Cloud Challenges

Significant Wasted Cloud Spend Drives Users to Focus on Costs

Even as managing cloud costs becomes a top challenge, cloud users underestimate the amount of wasted cloud spend. Respondents estimate 30 percent waste, while RightScale has measured actual waste between 30 and 45 percent.

Cloud Computing Trends 2017 Wasted Cloud Spend

This increased concern about costs has made optimizing cloud costs the top initiative for 2017 across all cloud users (53 percent) and especially in mature cloud users (64 percent).

Cloud Computing Trends 2017 Cloud Initiatives

Docker Shoots Into the Lead for DevOps Tools

As part of adopting DevOps processes, companies often choose to implement new tools that allow them to standardize and automate deployment and configuration of servers and applications. These tools include configuration management tools (such as Chef, Puppet, and Ansible) and, more recently, container technologies, such as Docker and container orchestration and scheduling tools such as Kubernetes, Swarm, and Mesosphere.

The meteoric rise in the use of containers now makes Docker the top DevOps tool among those included in our survey. Overall Docker adoption surged to 35 percent, taking the lead over Chef and Puppet at 28 percent each. (Note that we did not ask about continuous integration tools such as Jenkins, Travis, and others.)

Cloud Computing Trends 2017 DevOps Tools

Azure Increases Market Penetration, Reducing the AWS Lead

The 2017 State of the Cloud Survey reveals that although AWS continues to lead in public cloud adoption (57 percent of respondents currently run applications in AWS), this number has stayed flat since both 2016 and 2015. It is important to note that while the percentage of companies running at least one application in AWS is flat, the number of applications and VMs they are running is increasing, thereby driving increased revenue for AWS.

Cloud Computing Trends 2017 Top Public Clouds

In contrast, over the last year, we’ve seen significant growth in the percentage of respondents running applications in Azure and Google, the #2 and #3 public cloud providers. Overall Azure  adoption grew from 20 to 34 percent of respondents to reduce the AWS lead, with Azure now reaching 60 percent of the market penetration of AWS. Google also increased adoption from 10 to 15 percent.  

Cloud Computing Trends 2017 Public Cloud Adoption Rate

Public Cloud Users Still Have a Larger Footprint in AWS

The public cloud adoption numbers above indicate the number of respondents who are running any workloads in a particular cloud. However, it is also important to look at the number of workloads or VMs that are running in each cloud. The chart below shows the number of VMs being run.

So although AWS adoption is flat, it shows the largest footprint for public clouds with 8 percent running more than 1,000 VMs and 28 percent running more than 100 VMs. In comparison, Azure only has 3 percent running more than 1,000 VMs and and 13 percent running more than 100 VMs.

Cloud Computing Trends 2017 Number of VMs in Cloud

Private Cloud Adoption Flattens

In contrast to last year’s survey when we saw private cloud adoption grow, the 2017 survey shows that adoption of private cloud is flattening across all providers. Across all sizes of organizations, VMware vSphere continues to lead with 42 percent adoption, slightly below last year (44 percent). OpenStack (20 percent) and VMware vCloud Suite (19 percent) were also flat in growth, with OpenStack barely eking into the #2 slot. Microsoft Azure Pack/Stack was the only private cloud technology to show significant growth, up from 9 percent to 14 percent. Microsoft System Center showed 3 percent growth, which is right at the 3 percent margin of error.

Cloud Computing Trends 2017 Private Cloud Adoption

Summary: Public Cloud Adoption Grows, While Private Cloud Wanes

The 2017 State of the Cloud Survey shows that while hybrid cloud remains the preferred enterprise strategy, public cloud adoption is growing while private cloud adoption flattened and fewer companies are prioritizing building a private cloud. This was a change from last year’s survey, where we saw strong gains in private cloud use.

AWS leads in public cloud adoption despite staying flat for the last two years in the number of respondents using it. However, respondents are running more VMs in AWS than in other public clouds, which explains the AWS lead in revenue. Azure made strong gains in adoption in this year’s survey, closing the lead on AWS. Google also made gains and still remains in the #3 position.

Enterprise central IT teams are taking a stronger role in cloud adoption. However, business units seem reluctant to give up authority. Cloud governance continues to progress, which will serve to help increase alignment between central IT and the business units they support.

With increasing maturity of both cloud users and cloud providers, we are seeing an across-the-board reduction in cloud challenges. Unlike last year when concern about resources and expertise was the most widespread (32 percent of users), this year security, spend, and expertise tied for the largest concern, albeit with only 25 percent of users expressing concern about each.

As adoption grows, cloud bills and cost concerns are also growing. As a result, the most cited challenge among mature cloud users was managing cloud costs. Most organizations, however, continue to underestimate the level of waste in cloud spend (30 percent) when compared to actual waste between 30 and 45 percent measured by RightScale. Although only a minority of cloud users have taken action to reduce waste, they are now turning their focus to this issue, making it the top initiative for 2017, followed closely by migrating more workloads to cloud.

The use of DevOps practices and tools continues to increase, with enterprises moving beyond piecemeal adoption to company-wide DevOps programs. This year Docker surged to become the top DevOps tool in the survey, seemingly at the expense of configuration management tools such as Puppet and Chef, which showed declines in adoption.

Download the RightScale 2017 State of the Cloud Report for the complete survey results.

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