Year of modernization: 56% of professionals are working on cloud migrations for 2020

Even organizations with strict regulatory requirements are overcoming prior cloud security concerns to update infrastructure, Progress found.

Hybrid cloud setup offers relief to some companies while others are still fearful

Professionals are using 2020 as a year for cloud migration, according to a Progress report, released on Wednesday. More than half (56%) of respondents said they are currently working on or planning cloud migration projects for this year. 

Even companies with regulatory requirements are overcoming prior cloud vendor security concerns to migrate to the cloud; the benefits of the cloud seem to outweigh potential risks, the report found.  

SEE: Power checklist: Local email server-to-cloud migration (TechRepublic Premium)

The 2020 Progress Data Connectivity report aims to determine the state of the enterprise information management landscape. The report outlines patterns and insights into the industry's data management strategies, particularly in regard to regulations, industry standards, and digital transformation priorities. 

Migration to the cloud is a major focus throughout the report, but the data also reveals a continuing need for connectivity, the importance of data quality, object storage prioritization, the normalization of system diversity, and more.

Modernization via cloud 

The cloud is becoming mainstream as more organizations realize the cost-effective, secure nature of the tech. The report found that the economics and simplicity of the cloud, supported  by the growing number of high-level cloud providers, is inspiring companies to migrate their data and apps to the cloud. 

The data strategy for many organizations in 2020 is driven by modernization, specifically renovating legacy systems to accommodate cloud platforms. 

Industries including IT, education, utilities, engineering, finance, healthcare, and retail all cited their top motivations for modernization as cloud migration and legacy systems migration, the report found. 

Cloud migration can be complicated, especially when trying to integrate data sources both on-premise and in the cloud across a firewall. Respondents said they are mostly using a VPN (40%), SSH tunneling (21%), or a reverse proxy (9.5%) to accomplish that task. 

However, management of these solutions can get more convoluted in a hybrid environment, when multiple firewalls are involved and scalability is necessary. The report recommended hybrid connectivity solution gateways to help. 

Biggest data integration challenges

Data quality is the most critical data integration challenge at 44%, up from 30% of respondents in last year's survey. The year before, only 14% of respondents selected that as their biggest challenge. 

Other major challenges in this most recent survey included data spread across an increasing  number of data sources (40%) and integrating cloud data with on-premises data (38%). 

Across industries, data quality was the most frequently chosen selection, but data sprawl and data variety also topped many responses, the report found. 

Popular computing platforms 

  • Cloud 

The report also surveyed respondents on the platforms and operating systems they or their customers use most to support their applications. 

Windows was the clear winner, at 87%, but Linux was also a popular choice by respondents at 65%. Unix/Linux-based operating systems also showed growth, with Mac OS X rising from 15% to 22% this year, the report found.

The growth of Linux-based systems can be attributed to the growing adoption of open-source applicationware--many of which are rooted in Linux OS--as well as the increased use of cloud platforms, which often use Linux as its core operating systems, according to the report. 

As for popular cloud providers, Amazon Web Services (48%), Microsoft Azure (47%), and Google Cloud (25%) retained their dominance and even grew in popularity over the past year. Azure is catching up quickly with AWS, but Google is holding strong in third, trailed by VMware. 
The popularity of AWS and Azure can be attributed to the breadth of their service offerings. Both offer Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and other services such as serverless computing or integrated machine learning, the report found. 

While AWS was the most popular among many industries, Azure won out in the energy and utilities (56%), insurance (49%), and non-profit (47%) sectors, according to the report.

When looking at location, cloud adoption appeared to be strongest in the Asia-Pacific, with only 5% of respondents indicating they were not using cloud services. This was followed by North America (10%), EMEA (13%), and South America (15%).  

  • Big data

The big data platform results haven't changed much since the previous iteration of this report. Amazon S3 (17%) remained the dominant choice, followed by Hadoop Hive (15%). 

The popularity of these platforms is indicative of various big data adoption strategies including taking advantage of scalable object storage on S3 or relying on traditional Hadoop ecosystem components for structured data analysis, according to the report. 

The report also found that for respondents who are also using cloud platforms, the vendor was  typically the same for both; for example, those using AWS in the cloud also selected AWS S3 for big data. 

Object storage in AWS S3 was reportedly used by all industries, with the highest usage levels in IT services (27%), education (21%), software (20%), and financial services (19%). 

Popular databases 

Popular databases between last year and this year's survey also did not change. The top choices remain SQL Server (57%), MySQL (41%), Oracle (37%), PostgreSQL (24%), and Microsoft Access (22%), the report found. 

SQL Server was the most popular database across industries, but it was less frequent in certain sectors. The brand was less popular in the manufacturing and financial service industry (11%) and the healthcare/pharma industry (6%). 

Alternative databases, or NoSQL databases, were also growing in popularity as a way to provide alternative models for representing structured or semi-structured data. MongoDB was by far the most popular NoSQL database, used by 24% of respondents, the report found. 

Business intelligence and analytics tools 

This tech has also become increasingly popular as more citizen data scientists aim to improve business operations. Most people said they will continue to rely on desktop end-user tools, with Microsoft Excel being the most frequently indicated (40%).  

The second most popular was the Microsoft BI platform (27%), followed by Power BI (26%) and Tableau (22%). 

Regulations and the cloud

Most organizations are now subject to certain data privacy regulations to help standardize the protection of personal information. The most common regulations businesses are subject to include the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) (30%), Data Privacy Laws-PII (18%), ISO 27001 (16%), and SOX (14%). 

However, this does change by region. For example, in North America, HIPAA/HITECH (28%) was by far the most popular, followed by Data Privacy Laws-PII (24%), and SOX (21%). 

In the past, some professionals have been reluctant to use cloud tech due to concerns about cloud environments being breached by hackers. However, fewer than 11% of respondents indicated they don't use any public cloud infrastructure. 

Some may think that industries without regulations for private data protection might be more likely to move to the cloud, only 32% of respondents without regulatory requirements said they use AWS and only 36% said they use Azure, indicating that data protection concerns may not be the single impediment to cloud adoption, the report found. 

Across the board, more than 50% of respondents with regulatory requirements are now migrating data and apps to the cloud, indicating companies may be overcoming prior concerns over security and data protection abilities of cloud vendors, according to the report. 

Ultimately, the report determined that connectivity is key within organization and that the on-premises data center is rapidly changing to a hybrid environment that involves cloud platforms. For companies that want to modernize, they need to jump on the cloud train. 

For more, check out The state of the cloud in 2020: Public, multicloud dominates but waste spending is high on TechRepublic. 

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