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Do business leaders fear the public cloud?

(Image credit: Image Credit: Melpomene / Shutterstock)

The public cloud – AWS, Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure – underpins one of the most influential hallmarks of modern technology: file-sharing. Without it, our data would be lost within servers, un-shareable and at risk of being lost forever if your computer decides to pop its clogs.

The public cloud is the biggest enabler in a generation – and it’s what decision makers must focus on to take their business to the next level.

But the public cloud is dangerously underused in enterprises. Despite talk of transformation and disruption at every turn, businesses are still failing to scale the public cloud they possess across the entire enterprise. Data is still siloed, and files can still be lost.

So how are enterprises using the public cloud? How mature are cloud programs and operating models? What do they stand to gain from deploying the public cloud widely? And what is holding businesses back?

First and foremost, the technical and business benefits of the cloud are unequivocal.

Almost all business leaders agree that the public cloud provides better technical benefits than on-premises. Of these benefits, the top three most recognized by business leaders are greater efficiency, scalability and agility (the ability to quickly provision infrastructure).

The most-cited benefit is often making IT more responsive to the needs of the business – ensuring that the technology is able to work flexibly alongside teams to meet ever changing needs in the organization.

This is testament to the power of the cloud and how it can be such a radical enabler of each specific business.  Its technological maturity ensures that this tech prowess is not merely aesthetic but contributes directly to business goals.

Public cloud adoption is wide, but not necessarily deep

It would be unfair to suggest that every enterprise should be using the public cloud optimally right now. This technology is relatively new – particularly to many organizations that have used heritage technologies for years. We are still in a period of transition and experimentation.

That being said, very few organizations have not yet dipped their toe into the cloud in some way. Of those who have, the vast majority are using the public cloud as part of their estate (as opposed to private).

The most popular approach is hybrid cloud, while only a small proportion of enterprises are making heavy use of the public cloud across their business, suggesting that the enterprise is still in a period of transition from the use of on-premises towards private and public clouds.

Advanced cloud services tell a similar story. Serverless and container technologies are being used by many organizations. Yet they are only used by a small proportion as a standard way of deploying systems. They are still being used experimentally!

The public cloud, then, is firmly entrenched in the enterprise IT landscape. But, clearly, the vast majority of cloud programs are not fully mature, have not yet been adopted by businesses as the central IT platforms for their whole business and are still rather experimental in nature.

What is holding business leaders back from full public cloud deployment?

Security and compliance are the biggest barriers to adoption, respectively.

However, for the majority of business leaders, the cloud is more secure and easier to maintain compliance than on-premises. Only a tiny minority of decision-makers find that the public cloud is less capable in terms of both security and data compliance than on-premises.

Although superior in terms of capability, switching to cloud-native security and compliance models is a struggle for some enterprises.

However, almost everyone is planning on growing their cloud program... despite the concerns some have expressed about vendor lock-in.

The vast majority of enterprises will continue on with their cloud journey, although around a third are predicted to go full-steam ahead, migrating “as quickly as is feasible”. This is by no means the case for all enterprises, though. Around half wish to migrate more cautiously.

Vendor lock-in appears to also be a major issue for most enterprises. The majority of enterprises express that they are significantly concerned by the consequences of putting their all eggs in one cloud provider’s basket. Only a fearless few do not see this as a concern, and this is the way to go. Vendor lock-in is something of a myth. Many vendors are moving towards allowing data to more easily move in and out of the cloud, and onto local systems – nothing to fear.

The concern around vendor lock-in is somewhat at odds with the fact that so many organizations are using the cloud in some degree, suggesting that the potential benefits of the cloud outweigh the risks of lock-in in the minds of enterprises.

Fully-fledged cloud programs are the way forward

The public cloud is not a temporary visitor on the enterprise scene. Its outstanding flexibility and agility are fast making it a mainstay of modern business. Organizations can see this, and express optimism in the capabilities it can bring. However, cloud adoption isn’t the end of the journey, as many organizations think. Scaling this technology up and across the entire enterprise will unlock unprecedented capabilities, far beyond mere file sharing.

This period of transition is important. It must be done with painstaking care, and in a way, which fosters confidence among teams and customers. Experimentation is a vital phase, as organizations figure out how to make the cloud work for them. Consequently, at the moment, this makes fully-fledged cloud programs rare – but the revolution is coming. In the competitive landscape, those with fully deployed public clouds will soon begin reaping the rewards of connectedness, flexibility and scalability – and see business results competitors will envy.

Organizations should never settle with the state of their public cloud deployment as it is. There is always more to be gained from this exciting technology, and more understanding to be unlocked as teams navigate the shift from the data-center mindset to the cloud-native mindset. It’s no easy feat. But the reward is an enterprise which is pushed into the future, into contention with bold start-up culture, and into the hearts and minds of customers.

Michael Chalmers, MD EMEA, Contino

Michael Chalmers is MD EMEA at Contino.