Going into 2017, it looks like the contest for control over cloud computing deployments will finally come to a head. A new survey of 268 IT professionals conducted by Red Hat finds that well over a third (38 percent) plan to implement private clouds that they manage themselves. Comparitively, 13 percent plan to rely on a managed service to implement a private cloud. Another 3 percent of respondents said they would rely on a public cloud, and 30 percent said they would implement a hybrid cloud strategy. Another 16 percent said they hadn't made up their mind yet.
None of this means that organizations that manage their own clouds or have a hybrid architecture in place won’t end up augmenting those implementations with managed services. But it does show that as cloud computing technologies mature more internal IT organizations have faith in their own ability to manage them.
A big part of that faith no doubt rests in the rise of converged and hyperconverged infrastructure platforms that help unify the management of compute, storage, and networking. At the same time, providers of virtualization software such as VMware made significant strides in 2016 in terms of making it simpler to spin up a private cloud.
The biggest issue internal IT organizations may have in the cloud going forward might not be the core technology, but rather having the processes in place to support rapidly deploying applications at scale. In terms of IT culture and processes, the respondents to the Red Hat survey identified agile development (63 percent), DevOps (54 percent) and compliance/governance (40 percent) as their biggest challenges.
How MSPs can create cloud opportunities
What managed service providers might want to take away from all this is that cloud computing is rapidly becoming a means to a larger end. In terms of spending, investments in cloud computing are the single highest priority. But in terms of expected benefits, reduced costs and accelerating service delivery run neck and neck at 63 percent and 60 percent, respectively. There’s no doubt a well-implemented private cloud can reduce operational IT costs. But once that goal is achieved, the need to deploy applications at a faster rate will take precedence.
Given that inevitability, MSPs may want to change the tenor of the conversations they're having with customers. Rather than simply focusing on the cloud platform, the real issue at hand is achieving a business outcome in the form of delivering applications that help transform the organization’s business at a faster rate. From a process perspective, most internal IT organizations are nowhere near being able to modernize their processes to effectively achieve that goal.
The value an MSP needs to bring is less about managing cloud infrastructure. The problem most organizations will face is more about establishing a set of processes that makes it simpler to manage a much more dynamic application environment. In most cases, IT organizations will need help from an MSP to achieve that larger goal.
They say any real IT solution comprises people, processes, and products in equal measure. Internal IT organizations might be close to finally figuring out the technology and products. But when it comes to people and processes, chances are high that the many nuances of cloud computing will remain a mystery to them through 2017 and beyond.