As cloud users and cloud service providers mature, hybrid cloud adoption is growing significantly.
Hybrid cloud adoption rose from 58 percent in 2015 to 71 percent thanks to the increased adoption of private cloud computing, which rose to 77 percent, according to RightScale’s 2016 State of the Cloud Report.
“At this point, almost everybody is using some amount of cloud—either public, private or a combination of the two,” said Kim Weins, vice president of marketing at RightScale.
Ninety-five percent of respondents said they are running applications or existing in one or more clouds. And as enterprises already using public cloud adopted private cloud, they became hybrid cloud users automatically, she said.
Weins attributed the growth of private cloud adoption to a couple of factors: private cloud projects initiated in 2015 are just starting to come online and people are “cloudifying” their virtual environments.
“We see more and more customers taking their existing VMware environments and their existing (VMware Inc.) vSphere environments and saying, ‘Hey, I want to cloudify this or cloud-enable this. I want to provide automation. I want to provide self-service,’” she said.
The number of enterprises running more than 1,000 virtual machines (VMs) in private cloud grew from 22 percent to 31 percent, and those running more than 1,000 VMs in public cloud increased from 13 percent to 17 percent.
The move to cloud isn’t slowing down on-premise adoption, though. Enterprises with virtualized environments containing more than 1,000 VMs grew from 42 percent to 48 percent.
That might not meet the official definitions of a cloud, but companies believe virtualization gives them the most of the cloud’s value and so they treat their virtualized infrastructure as a cloud, Weins said.
The survey found that on average companies use three public clouds and three private clouds.
On average, companies run applications on 1.5 public clouds and experiment with an additional 1.5 public clouds. They are also running applications on 1.7 private clouds and experimenting with an additional 1.3 private clouds, according to the report.
AWS retains lead in public cloud adoption
Of the public cloud providers, the survey found Amazon Web Services LLC (AWS) continues to lead the pack. Overall, 57 percent of respondents said they use AWS. Enterprise adoption of it grew from 50 percent to 56 percent.
Microsoft’s Azure gained some ground, however. Azure infrastructure as a service (IaaS) grew from 12 percent to 17 percent adoption, while Azure platform as a service (PaaS) went from 9 percent to 13 percent. Combined, 20 percent of respondents use Azure (IaaS, PaaS or both) compared with 57 percent for AWS.
Behind that are VMware vCloud Air and IBM SoftLayer. Adoption for each grew from 5 percent to 7 percent.
Faster access to infrastructure number one benefit
In this year’s survey, more users reported speed as a primary benefit of the cloud, specifically faster access to infrastructure and faster time to market, Weins said. Sixty-two percent said faster access to infrastructure is the greatest benefit, compared to 57 percent in 2015. And 52 percent said faster time to market is the top benefit, up from 48 percent.
The biggest growth in benefits, Weins pointed out, was among cloud beginners.
“What seems to be happening is that as the cloud providers get better functionality, documentation and capabilities and as the knowledge about the use of cloud is spreading, it’s easier for people to get more benefits right from the beginning of cloud usage,” she said.
Security no longer top challenge
Regarding challenges, the big change was that security, which had been the number one challenge for the past three years, dropped to number two. The biggest challenge for heavy cloud users is lack of cloud resources and expertise.
“What’s happening is again there are security features from cloud providers, more certifications of providers that increase the perception of security, people are learning about best practices regarding security in the cloud, and there are third-party security providers that can help you,” Weins said. “Because of that, we’re seeing the decline of concern about security.”
Cloud beginners ranked security as the number two challenge, cloud explorers (people who have multiple projects or applications already deployed in the cloud, ranked it as number four and cloud-focused users (heavy cloud users looking to optimize cloud operations and costs) put it at number five.
“So, as you move up that maturity, [concern about security] drops precipitously,” Weins said.
The fact that lack of cloud resources and expertise is top on the list of challenges makes sense, she added. As more companies are using the cloud, and as the central IT team takes on a greater role, they need additional expertise.
“They’re asking ‘How do I get that knowledge—through training of internal people or bringing it in from the outside?’” Weins said.
Managing cloud costs is also a challenge that has grown steadily over the past four years, with 26 percent in 2016 saying it’s a significant challenge. Yet the number of companies taking steps to optimize costs, such as shutting down unused workloads and selecting lower-cost clouds or regions, is low.
“Companies have to put in place the appropriate tools, policies and controls,” Weins said. “It does take some work to put them in place. But they can help optimize costs.”