Curing the Cloud Hangover: Cloud Usage Finding a Balance

By Erik Linask, Group Editorial Director  |  October 20, 2016

About a year ago (see “The Cloud Grows Up” in the 2015 Q3 issue of Cloud Computing magazine), I talked about growth of cloud but also noted the challenges that many businesses were facing when increasing their cloud adoption.  Based on results from a report by Sungard Availability Services, I noted that, “a strong majority of businesses are experiencing what Sungard calls a ‘cloud hangover’ – lingering challenges resulting from their migrations. In fact, three-quarters of respondents say that, despite the benefits, cloud computing has created an entirely new set of challenges.”

That combination of increased adoption and the experiences gained from it – namely, an understanding that not everything is meant to be in the cloud for every business – has helped create a cure for that hangover and guided the market into its next phase.

Adoption is still growing, as more and more businesses jump on the cloud bandwagon. But, based on another new report, this one from CompTIA (News - Alert) (see its 2016 Trends in Cloud Computing survey), businesses are gaining a sense of understanding of what works and what doesn’t work in the cloud – for them.

One of the key observations is that, while there may be an overall increase in cloud adoption, the growth comes in non-critical applications and experimental usage. When it comes to full production and IT transformation, there is a noticeable dip. In addition, a significant number of respondents have noted reduced use of specific cloud-based business applications, many of which can be considered critical to business operations.

This all makes sense in light of the lingering challenges noted by businesses a year ago. One would expect challenges impacting critical applications to be addressed rapidly, since they are tied to overall business performance. If the challenges arose from migrating to the cloud, it’s very reasonable to expect that some of those businesses would revert to more traditional models.

What is equally interesting, though, is that cost variables remain a consistent rationale for cloud – and that is a variable that is never going to be overlooked by business leaders. In fact, two of the top three benefits of cloud in the CompTIA report relate to cost benefits: Ability to cut costs (1) and Reduce capital expenditures (3) – with “Cloud solution was simply a better option” slipping between them. 

The latter is rather vague, and can really relate to any number of factors, including management, deployment, maintenance, support, ease of use, reliability, and, of course, cost. That said, it is also a strong enough statement in that, regardless of the specific criteria, many businesses felt strongly enough that overall, cloud is a superior model, and that bodes very well for the market as a whole.

So, while we are witnessing something of a balance being struck between cloud and traditional adoption models, one factor that will have to play itself out is the hype factor. During the past several years, many cloud evangelists have touted cloud as a viable delivery model for all business services. In other words, there was the camp that held that we would very quickly see many businesses go all-cloud, and they were right – some did.  And many others likely bought into the hype and went more cloud than they may have initially planned.

That doesn’t mean they were wrong. It may just mean they tried to do it all too quickly, resulting in the hiccups they felt along the way. The same may hold for their providers, who, in some cases, may also have bitten off more than they could chew. But the managed services model continues to grow, and more and more MSPs are building their service portfolios out to help businesses go deeper into the cloud than ever. If cost continues to be a factor, we may well see some of the businesses that have stepped back somewhat in the last year move at least some of their production applications to the cloud again.

Sure, there may be some “One bitten, twice shy” mentality, but ultimately, with constant pressure to grow value, what business exec is going to ignore cost savings?

Edited by Alicia Young