IBM study: Single-vendor approach to cloud is dead

Sixty-four percent of C-suite respondents said industry-related regulatory compliance is a significant obstacle, resulting in an uptick of specialized cloud adoption, the newly released study finds.

Cloud computing concept

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Use of single or private cloud in 2021 has trended downward from 29% in 2019 to only 2% in 2021, indicating hybrid/multicloud is the dominant IT architecture, according to a newly-released IBM study. And while cyberattacks have increased and become more sophisticated, surprisingly, more than one-third of respondents did cite improving cybersecurity and reducing security risks as among their largest business and IT investments, IBM's new global study on cloud transformation found.

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At the same time, 80% said data security being embedded throughout the cloud architecture is important or extremely important, in most cases, to successful digital initiatives.

The findings indicate the multi-cloud era has arrived and concerns around vendor lock-in, security, compliance and interoperability remain paramount, according to the study.  

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Image: IBM

Other significant findings:

Companies are denouncing vendor lock-in. Nearly 79% of respondents said workloads being completely portable with no vendor lock-in is important or extremely important to the success of their digital initiatives, the study said. Further, almost 69% said vendor lock-in is a significant obstacle to improving business performance in most or all parts of their cloud portfolio.

Infrastructures are vulnerable. Network complexity is creating cracked doors that cybercriminals are exploiting.

Public cloud adoption is evolving toward industry clouds. Nearly 70% of respondents in the government and financial services sectors cited industry-related regulatory compliance as an obstacle to the business performance of their cloud estate. Respondents in regulated industries, such as government (85%) and financial services (80%), cited governance and compliance tools being able to run across multiple clouds as important to the success of digital initiatives.

Only 1% of respondents in the electronics, insurance, manufacturing, telco, transportation and travel industries reported using a single private or public cloud in 2021.

Cloud maturity is growing. Most enterprises are about midway—but not further—on their cloud adoption journeys, the study found. Further, enterprises are breaking through the 20% barrier of low-hanging fruit workload migration.

Cloud is fostering a new way of thinking. Work on cloud operating model design—and approaching cloud not just as a technology but as a way of operating more like a software-driven enterprise—is generating positive returns, and is a marker of higher performance, according to the IBM report.

Benefits are being realized. Seventy-three percent of respondents said cloud-driven digitization of products and services is delivering positive, transformational performance improvements at scale.

Cloud considerations

"In the beginning of their cloud journey, many companies dabbled with several different clouds that created complexity and disconnected piece parts, potentially opening them up to major security threats," said Howard Boville, head of IBM cloud platform, in a statement. "Today's findings reiterate that security, governance and compliance tools must run across multiple clouds and be embedded throughout hybrid cloud architectures from the onset for digital transformations to be successful."

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 The study revealed that enterprises need to assess how they use the cloud in terms of adoption, velocity, migration, speed and cost savings opportunities. Other recommendations include:

  • Focus on security and privacy—determine where your critical workloads reside and scrutinize who and what has access to them. Regularly test that security controls and privacy policies are being adhered to, but also that improperly configured assets and software vulnerabilities are being promptly addressed.
  • Ask which workloads should move to the cloud—take inventory of the IT environment to successfully determine which workloads and applications will yield the most value in the cloud and which are better suited to stay on-premises.
  • Make data work for you—analyze workloads using AI-driven tools and best practices to determine where and how to put them in the right place for the right reason. 
  • Set a tactical approach—address the technology trade-offs, such as selecting the best approach to modernize specific applications and manage important issues like security, governance and disaster recovery.
  • Determine the right team—put a cross-disciplinary team of people to work rethinking how your enterprise creates value for its customers.

The global study, conducted by IBM Institute for Business Value and Oxford Economics, surveyed almost 7,200 C-suite executives across 28 industries and 47 countries, IBM said.

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By Esther Shein

Esther Shein is a longtime freelance writer and editor whose work has appeared in several online and print publications. Previously, she was the editor-in-chief of Datamation, a managing editor at BYTE, and a senior writer at eWeek (formerly PC Week)...