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RightScale State of the Cloud 2013: A New Industry Survey

Last month RightScale surveyed technical professionals across a broad cross-section of organizations about their adoption of cloud computing. The 625 respondents range from technical executives to practitioners, and represent organizations of varying sizes across many industries. Their answers to our survey questions provide a comprehensive perspective on the state of the cloud today.

For the purpose of reporting the survey results, we created a Cloud Maturity Model to segment and analyze organizations based on their levels of cloud adoption. The Cloud Maturity Model identifies four distinct stages of cloud maturity, from least to greatest experience:

  • Cloud Watchers are organizations that are developing cloud strategies and plans but have not yet deployed applications into the cloud. Cloud Watchers want to evaluate available cloud options, and determine which applications to implement in the cloud.
  • Cloud Beginners are new to cloud computing and are working on proof-of-concepts or initial cloud projects. These organizations want to gain experience with cloud in order to determine future projects.
  • Cloud Explorers have multiple projects or applications already deployed in the cloud. They are focused on improving and expanding their use of cloud resources.
  • Cloud Focused organizations are heavily using cloud infrastructure. They are looking to optimize cloud operations as well as cloud costs.

The survey includes organizations across all the stages of cloud maturity.

Cloud Is a Given

One of the primary findings of the survey is that cloud computing is no longer on the bleeding edge of technology adoption. Three-quarters of our respondents say that they are adopting cloud. The rate of adoption is slightly higher in enterprises than it is among small and midsize organizations (SMB) - 77 percent vs. 73 percent.

But although enterprises are moving into the cloud, they are moving more slowly through the maturity levels. Thirty-two percent are just at the experimentation stage, and only 17 percent report heavy use. The proportions are reversed for SMBs: 19 percent are just experimenting, while 41 percent report heavy use.

Clearly enterprises have moved beyond the question of whether cloud is appropriate for their organizations, and are progressing down the path to cloud adoption. The slower pace of adoption is in line with the typical behavior of large organizations, which are dealing with added organizational scale and complexity and thus tend to take longer to fully consume new technologies.

The Future of the Enterprise Is Multi-Cloud

While the use of cloud is a given, organizations often have different strategies for adopting cloud that incorporate varying combinations of public, private, and hybrid cloud infrastructure. Organizations have multiple choices when it comes to cloud architecture, and multiple cloud vendors ready to provide services.

Public clouds are services available to all organizations, providing elastic and scalable resources that organizations pay for according to the level of resources they use. By contrast, a private cloud's resources are available for only one organization. Private clouds may be created and managed in-house or be hosted at a service provider's location. Finally, hybrid clouds combine both types of implementations, taking advantage of the unique strengths of each model but requiring a greater level of management.

Among public cloud providers, Amazon Web Services (AWS) was first to market, but today the competitive marketplace includes Rackspace, Google Compute Engine (GCE), Windows Azure, and a host of other players. Organizations that want private clouds can deploy technologies like OpenStack, CloudStack, or Eucalyptus internally in their own data centers or leverage hosted private clouds from a variety of service providers.

The survey shows that hybrid and multi-cloud implementations are today's strategy of choice for the enterprise. Seventy-seven percent of respondents have a multi-cloud strategy, and 47 percent are planning for hybrid clouds. In addition, 15 percent of enterprises expect to use multiple public clouds and a similar number are planning for multiple private clouds.

Our survey revealed several other interesting trends related to enterprise cloud adoption, cloud competition, and the DevOps movement. I'll cover those in more detail in upcoming blog posts. To read the complete survey results, see the RightScale State of the Cloud Report 2013.