Storms Ahead: The Dark Side of the Rush to the Cloud
Despite being constantly referred to as “the new normal,” the changes wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic are usually expressed in terms of endings. The end of the office. The end of the shopping mall. The end of the all-you-can-eat buffet. But there are some cases in which the pandemic has actually brought about growth—for example, the home office. Toilet paper. And the cloud.
Cloud adoption plans were already well underway by the time the COVID-19 pandemic began. But while most companies already had a digital transformation strategy in place, in many cases the new work reality wrought by the pandemic resulted in these plans being accelerated. For example, when businesses were forced to adopt remote work practically overnight, businesses drastically increased their dependence on cloud-based services, particularly videoconferencing and collaboration apps such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Slack.
During the first quarter of 2020, software company Flexera asked 750 global cloud decision makers and users about their cloud usage to get a better picture of who was moving to the cloud, how quickly they were moving, and some of the challenges they were facing. The resulting data shows a digital transformation landscape approaching maturity and largely delivering on its promises to improve the ways work gets done. But while problems stemming from unfamiliarity and inexperience are decreasing, more perennial problems have begun taking their place — particularly the complexity of securing the cloud, and the many and varied dangers businesses can face if they fail to do so.
IDG’s 2020 Cloud Computing Study found that 92% of organizations say their IT environment is at least somewhat in the cloud, with 38% saying they’re completely or nearly all in the cloud today. This finding was borne out by Flexara’s conclusions. In their 2020 State of the Cloud report1, Flexara reported that businesses in almost all industries leverage cloud computing, with more than half reporting they use cloud heavily and have reached the advanced cloud maturity level. Only 10% of respondents reported still being in the planning stage of their respective cloud strategies.
Notably, for the first time in the history of their State of the Cloud report, Flexara found that none of the respondents said they lacked cloud plans.
Just as significant is the speed at which companies are moving to the cloud. The IDG study found that 60% of respondents said they expected to be completely or nearly all in the cloud in 18 months, while Flexara’s respondents reported 53% of their workloads are run in a public cloud — a number they expected to rise to 60% over the next year.
Half of the Flexara study respondents’ data is housed in a public cloud, and is forecasted to rise 8% during the same time period.
While previous Flexara studies have found some respondents were reluctant to put sensitive consumer or corporate financial data in the cloud, more than half of the organizations surveyed this year said they’ll consider moving at least some of this type of data to the cloud.
Similar cloud research conducted by global research and advisory firm Gartner offers a look at the financial implications of digital transformation. Gartner’s data shows that the global public cloud market is expected to grow from $227.8 billion to $266.4 billion year over year, the largest portion of which will be allocated to SaaS offerings.
While findings from Flexara’s 2019 State of the Cloud report showed “managing cloud spend” and “governance” as the top cloud challenge, the most recent study showed that security had moved into the top spot for both SMBs and enterprises. 81% of respondents reported security as a challenge, including 83% of enterprises. In fact, “security” appeared in the top 3 concerns in every maturity category, from beginner to advanced.
Clearly, cloud maturity doesn’t solve all cloud challenges — particularly when attackers are getting more and more inventive when it comes to attacks on the cloud. But there is a lot you can do to safeguard your cloud usage and get the most out of your cloud investment. To learn more, register for the upcoming Mindhunter webinar.