Enterprises overwhelmingly see value in public cloud and more than three in four are using it in some capacity. But relatively few of them have expanded cloud initiatives across the business due to fears of security, compliance and “vendor lock-in”.

That’s according to a new study by technology consultancy Contino which polled 250 IT decision-makers from large organisations across America, Europe and APAC.

UK headquartered Contino, which has offices in Sydney and Melbourne, is an AWS global premier partner and also works with Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud.

The State of Public Cloud in the Enterprise Contino Research Report 2020 suggests IT leaders see public cloud as the biggest business enabler in a generation but are struggling to take advantage of it in their day to day operations.

Nearly all of the respondents said public cloud has significant technical and business benefits over on premise infrastructure, with 77 per cent already using it. But only 13 per cent have a “fully-fledged public cloud programme live across the business”.

In other words, there is wide adoption of public cloud by enterprises but not deep. 

The two main barriers cited by IT leaders are security (48 per cent) and compliance (37 per cent). That’s despite nearly two thirds of respondents saying public cloud is more secure than traditional data centres. 

Vendor lock in

63 per cent also say vendor lock-in as a major concern, worried when they move workloads and applications to the cloud it will be too expensive or too difficult to get them back or move to another provider.

Fears of vendor lock-in are largely unjustified though, according to Contino chief innovation officer, APAC, Yun Zhi Lin, who says concerns are often a hangover of previous bad IT contracts.

“It’s worth looking at a lot of the facts behind each of the major cloud vendors in that they have never raised the price,” Lin tells Which-50. “If anything, the prices have always sort of gone down. And they are very much in a price war with each other.”

Lin says IT departments can also make architectural decisions to mitigate vendor lock in risks, designing applications in ways that they are not dependent on certain vendor features.

“There are architecture strategies that can help you prevent that [vendor lock-in]. And we also are seeing in the market a lot of organisations are pretty much adopting what’s called a poly cloud approach.”

Under a “poly cloud” approach organisations use multiple vendors, choosing the best features of each. “It also gives them a potential sort of hedge against any decisions in the future that, should they choose to take certain workloads away from one cloud and move into the other, they do have the skills and expertise to be able to do.”

Public cloud drivers

Despite the challenges, most Australian enterprises still plan to expand their public cloud programs, says Lin, in order to improve the alignment of IT with business objectives.

“The biggest reason for going into the cloud is actually to do his business alignment. It is actually not to do with cost.

“If if we rewind a few years back, it was very much about a cost play, a cost cutting exercise or data centre play. Whereas now it’s very much about business benefits, as well as being more aligned, being more responsive to the business as well as shipping products according to market conditions.”

For example, Lin says, Australian businesses are under increasing pressure to meet customers’ digital needs, including their preferred channel and a “24/7” presence, requirements on premise data centres aren’t well suited to because of capacity planning and SLAs.

“It’s not about on-prem versus the cloud: Which one is cheaper? How much do I pay for storage?” Lin tells Which-50

“This is very much about ‘how can I better focus on what the customer needs’ in a world where digital is the new norm.”

Lin says the Contino research bears out the point, with most IT leaders identifying business benefit and speed to market as their top public cloud priority rather than cost savings.

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