Inside Advanced Scale Challenges|Tuesday, January 24, 2017
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Datacenter Survey Confirms Steady Cloud Shift 

A respected datacenter survey of senior enterprise IT executives finds that half expect the majority of production workloads to reside in the cloud or colocation sites, a process that is expected to accelerate through 2020.

According to the annual datacenter industry survey released Wednesday (June 22) by the Uptime Institute, 23 percent of those executives polled expected the shift to cloud platforms to occur by next year while 70 percent think it will be completed over the next three-and-a-half years.

“The shift is occurring, and our findings show an industry in a state of flux,” Matt Stansberry, director of content and publications for the Uptime Institute. As far back as 2013, the market watcher said a shift was underway despite the fact that enterprise IT teams did a poor job of communicating datacenter costs and performance metrics to decision makers.

"The business demand for agility and cost transparency has driven workloads to the public cloud," Stansberry added. "Our counsel to datacenter and IT professionals is to become more effective at articulating and showcasing their value to the business."

The industry survey tracks legacy, on-premise IT enterprise and datacenter operations. Stansberry noted that many IT teams are not motivated to move workloads to the cloud. Hence, previous surveys going back to 2013 "likely underrepresented the shift to cloud computing, as business units deployed in the cloud without IT operations or datacenter personnel involvement," the analyst added.

Along with improving communications, Stansberry argues that IT departments need to become more agile while shedding their current role as a "slow-moving centralized provider" of enterprise IT services.

Budget pressures and a steady shift to automated processes are transforming legacy enterprise IT operations, the survey confirmed, driving the outsourcing of workloads to the cloud or colocation facilities. The automation of routine operations is often justified as a way to free up DevOps teams to get distributed enterprise applications out the door faster. Emerging production technologies like application containers are helping to speed that process while presenting new challenges to IT operators who must closely monitor a new generation of hyper-scale IT infrastructure.

Meanwhile, shrinking IT departments are being asked to do more with less. The Uptime survey found that about half of those surveyed report flat or shrinking budgets for operating on-premise IT infrastructure and datacenters. That trend has extended over the last five years. Fifty-five percent of enterprise-managed server "footprints" were flat or shrinking as virtualization spreads though datacenters, the survey found.

Meanwhile, half of those enterprises shifting IT operations to colocation facilities said they were "satisfied" or "very satisfied" with their primary cloud provider.

Despite general satisfaction with colocation services, Uptime Institute concludes that the IT outsourcing model isn't a panacea. The survey found that 40 percent of those polled said they are paying more for colocation services than expected. About one-third reported outages at colocation sites, and more than 60 percent said penalty clauses in their service level agreements were not enough to offset losses associated with cloud outages.

"Enterprise organizations paying a premium for a third party to deliver datacenter capacity should hold service providers to higher standards," the survey recommended. "There is room for improvement in vetting, negotiating and managing those relationships."

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 25 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as Executive Editor for Electronic Engineering Times.

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