Forty percent of all enterprise workloads are currently running in some type of public or private cloud; by mid-2018, that number is expected to rise to 60 percent, providing new opportunities for tech professionals in the cloud space.
Those were the results of a recent 451 Research study, which found that, among the various types of cloud-deployment models, enterprises are most likely to use on-premises private cloud and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), each accounting for 14 percent of all applications.
Despite all the hype surrounding Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), it represents just 6 percent of all enterprise workloads. However, the survey suggested that IaaS is likely to see the highest growth, with usage predicted to double over the next two years.
“While it is much talked about, enterprises are still scrambling to understand how public cloud infrastructure can be used, develop the skills to use it effectively and complete the evaluations and prioritization needed to move workloads to a public cloud environment,” Andrew Reichman 451’s research director for cloud technology, told Dice.
The prediction of high growth underscores just how much potential for disruption exists in the market for public cloud, Reichman added, and the high willingness among buyers to move forward with public cloud for a significant percentage of important workloads.
According to the research, many enterprise decision-makers now see public cloud as a safe and viable option and are in the process of determining just how and where to use it.
Reichman also cited what he considered the most surprising number in the study: the 38 percent of respondents who already have a cloud-first policy in place. That number represents a significant commitment to using cloud-delivery models in the near-term—certainly more than some might expect at this stage of adoption in the enterprise.
“I’d say that the level of understanding of the dynamics of public cloud operations are still limited among most enterprises today,” Reichman said. With years of experience in traditional infrastructure design, it’s hard for many organizations to understand the idea of scaling up and down based on changing demand models.
Most traditional applications don’t even consider variable resource consumption as an option, given that there is no benefit to be gained by scaling down during low-demand periods, he added.
Getting a better understanding of the business requirements in the context of cloud can be difficult, especially when most IT environments are organized by individual technology silos, which makes it hard to get a picture of every piece of the solution. Such pictures, however, are a requirement for success in the cloud.
For tech professionals working in the space, this transformation means a shift from individual technology discipline expertise to placing more emphasis on a broad understanding of business solutions and all the pieces that go into delivering it.
Reichman suggested that seasoned tech pros should see this as an opportunity to get closer to the customer, increase understanding of adjacent technology categories and contribute to business success. The development and Operations (DevOps) models, where applications manage infrastructure directly, will require teams with broader understanding of the whole solution, as well as individuals who are willing to understand more of the pieces of the puzzle: “For motivated people, this will make their jobs more interesting, more meaningful and more important in the long run.”
What’s the takeaway here? Organizations and people should dive into learning about cloud management principles, in order to (eventually) design and execute a broad transition. That means becoming familiar with multiple types of delivery models, both on a features and a cost level.
As Reichman noted, commoditized applications will likely move to SaaS, taking up little time and energy of your average company’s tech department. Even so, applications should be evaluated for ease of migration: “The transition to cloud will likely reduce the volume of applications running in custom infrastructure models, but increase the importance of those critical differentiating applications.”
Reichman predicted that cloud-enabled environments will place a good deal of importance on the people who can offer a broad strategic view of the organization’s portfolio of workloads, and a good understanding of the dynamics of each available delivery model.
“In the cloud era, IT becomes more of a broker or buyer of services than a deployer of infrastructure technology,” he said. Nonetheless, a deep understanding of how to build and run technology will remain important, as will seeing the “big picture” and knowing when to build custom (as opposed to accepting a standard SaaS offering).
“Deep technology expertise will remain important, but it will focus more on scripting and automating than configuring hardware, and will be relevant to a smaller number of workloads that truly drive competitive advantage,” he said.
“The move to cloud will have an adverse impact on some groups of IT professionals. IT admins and architects who have specialized in private datacenter operations, technologies, and practices will see a decreasing demand for those skill sets,” Bernard Sanders, chief technology officer for cloud management solution provider CloudBolt, told Dice.
These functions will end up centralized by a few cloud providers, Sanders added, which, along with increasing automation, will mean fewer jobs overall in the tech-management space.
Sanders suggested that employers looking to “future-proof” themselves against this shift should look for employees who view learning and adapting as a constant and enjoyable part of their profession.
“Employers should design their applicant-seeking process and their interview questions on identifying candidates who are open to the nature of their work changing drastically over time and who foster a diverse set of skills,” he said.