Inside Advanced Scale Challenges|Tuesday, June 19, 2018
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Shift to Cloud is Measured, IT Survey Finds 


While more enterprises are moving workloads to the public cloud, a datacenter survey finds that the percentage of workloads residing in on-premise or co-location datacenters has remained stable since 2014.

The Uptime Institute's annual survey found that the percentage of workloads running in enterprise-owned or operated datacenters has remained at 65 percent over the last three years. "The takeaway is that with the explosive growth in business critical applications and data, enterprises continue to see the datacenter as not just important, but essential to their digital-centric strategies," the survey concludes.

Among the other findings was that enterprise IT server usage is flat or shrinking as a result of increased processing performance along with growing adoption of server virtualization and cloud computing. "What we have is a continuation of Moore's Law," noted Uptime's Matt Stansberry, along with the shift to the cloud.

Despite the relative stability of datacenter operations, Stansberry added, "The cloud is a big part of IT planning capacity going forward."

One result has been increased efficiency and better performance from existing IT assets. Hence, the survey found that hybrid IT deployments have remained steady over the last several years, with 65 percent of IT assets remaining in datacenters, 22 percent in co-location facilities and 13 percent in the cloud.

"That means a lot of these enterprise workloads are not being moved to the cloud," Stansberry asserted. "We are not seeing this wholesale exodus from legacy IT off to cloud platforms."

Still, more than two-thirds of respondents told Uptime that some workloads would be moved to the cloud while larger organizations are more likely than smaller enterprises to shift to cloud computing.

The situation is complicated by the rise of multi-cloud strategies in which assets are spread among on-premise and cloud platforms as well as different cloud providers as a way of avoiding vendor lock-in. "These things aren't getting simpler, they are getting more complex," Stansberry stressed. "It needs work, and I think this is going to be a major area of focus…for making better decisions about how you evaluate between cloud, colocation and on-premise computing."

Further complicating matters is the reality that IT decisions about how to proceed with a multi-cloud strategy are being made in isolation. "It's just not a well-structured process folks are using today," the analyst explained.

Meanwhile, about half of respondents to the Uptime survey said they are updating legacy infrastructure as they ponder capacity planning. Companies are going to the cloud, Stansberry said, adding: "It's not necessarily that the cloud is taking that enterprise workload so much as it's giving some of these folks with large datacenter investments an opportunity to retool and reinvest and work hard with the assets they have."

There is plenty of upside to this approach. "If you are running in a fully depreciated asset that was well planned and well built out, that's a good thing," Stansberry concluded. "That means you are in a position where you are able to meet your IT demands" cost effectively.

It also means enterprises must devote more time to detailed datacenter operations such as maintenance even as IT budgets shrink. The Uptime survey found overwhelming concerns about datacenter downtime, with nearly 90 percent of respondents saying they now conduct root cause analysis of outages while 60 percent said they attempt to measure the cost of downtime. Those concerns will only grow as malware attacks get more sophisticated and companies strive to detect and blunt attacks as they occur.

Seattle-based Uptime Institute works with global companies to improve the reliability and efficiency of datacenter infrastructure, including a certification program. The annual survey was conducted in early 2017 and includes responses from more than 1,000 IT managers.

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 30 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as executive editor of Electronic Engineering Times. Leopold is the author of "Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom" (Purdue University Press, 2016).

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