The term Cloud First has become such a standard refrain that most IT organizations now take for gospel, but what Cloud First actually means to any given IT organization varies widely.
A global survey of 1,200 IT professionals conducted by 451 Research finds that 38 percent of IT organizations have an official Cloud First policy in terms of where workloads should run. But a much larger percentage are pushing workloads into the cloud. The survey suggests that 60 percent of all workloads will be running on some form of cloud by the middle of 2018.
The type of cloud is where most of the divergence starts to occur. The survey finds that of the 41 percent of workloads running in the cloud today, software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications and on-premise private clouds each account for 14 percent. Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) running in a public cloud accounts for 6 percent of those workloads.
Going forward, the survey predicts that the percentage of workloads running on private clouds will stay flat, even as the total number of workloads goes up. In contrast, the report predicts that SaaS applications will account for 23 percent of workloads, while IaaS will grow to 12 percent.
Shifting priorities in the cloud
Much of the rationale for this forecast comes down to priorities. If there is a SaaS application that fills the enterprise requirement, reinventing that particular wheel doesn’t make sense unless there is a regulatory requirement that needs to be met. As for the rest of the application portfolio, unless there is a specific performance requirement that needs to be met it’s difficult to justify the cost of an on-premise deployment for anything but the most mission-critical application workloads. Many organizations today have a Cloud First policy in place with a caveat that exempts applications where performance matters.
But what is true today may be less so tomorrow. There’s no doubt that IaaS provides much higher levels of agility, but the cost of running an application for multiple years in an IaaS environment will eventually exceed what it costs to deploy that application on premise. Thanks to advances in software-defined infrastructure (SDI), on-premise IT infrastructure will become more flexible over time. In addition, advances in Flash and other forms of non-volatile memory, such as the 3D X Point architecture being developed by Intel and Micron, will continue to transform IT infrastructure economics.
New opportunities for MSPs
Perhaps the best news of all, however, is that there may very well be significantly more application workloads than anyone expects. Thanks to the rise of containers and microservices, the amount of time it takes for a development team to create an application is being sharply reduced.
Put it altogether, and IT services providers will soon find themselves operating in the most diverse IT environments. Not only will there be multiple types of clouds, the classes and types of workloads running on those clouds will continue to expand in all directions. IT services providers that can keep up with all that will uncover equally limitless opportunities, regardless of what type of cloud any given workload winds up running on.