IT leaders across the board agree that hybrid cloud is essential for digital transformation (94%), according to the The Truth About Hybrid Cloud and Digital Transformation, a report from CloudBolt and social research platform Pulse to survey IT executives on hybrid cloud's role in digital transformation. The March 2021 survey received over one hundred responses from executives at enterprises with over 1,000 employees from the Americas, EMEA, and APAC.
The survey also confirmed the vital role played by automation, self-service IT, and continuous optimization of cloud spend on the digital transformation journey — and how most of these organizations are experiencing significant stumbling blocks in these very areas.
It appears that a new cloud order is emerging and suddenly, what has been good enough no longer is. Specifically:
1. You'll Never Have "Self-Service IT" Without Simplicity
Self-service IT aims to empower DevOps and other enterprise users, allowing them to access the resources they need, when they need them. At the same time, it should enable IT admins to maintain control over security, permissions, and configurations. When properly implemented, self-service IT can prevent the growth of "shadow IT," that is, developers going around IT and procuring their own resources, such as spinning up public cloud services with a credit card. According to Gartner, shadow IT accounts for 30-40% of enterprise IT budgets.
But what good is self-service if you can't actually serve yourself? Sadly, that seems to be the case for the majority of organizations: 56% of survey respondents said their self-service IT is too complicated and requires users to have expertise in cloud and infrastructure tools.
Most end users won't know how to choose AWS plan specifications, select target cloud deployment zones, or configure security groups. But if they can't do these things themselves, it isn't really self-service.
IT leaders realize the importance of self-service and they also understand that their efforts today fall short. In fact, 71% said they want their enterprise's self-service IT system to function like an "easy button," where users don't need to ask for assistance or possess esoteric knowledge of cloud-native tools to get what they want. The new cloud order demands true simplicity to fuel true self-service and transformation.
2. You'll Never Truly Automate What Isn't Intelligently Integrated
Hybrid cloud management has grown too complicated for the outdated, manual processes many enterprises still rely on. Enabling policy-driven workflows and intelligent provisioning requires automation. Predictably, enterprises are investing in a growing number of automation tools. But these tools need to be integrated with existing infrastructure — and with each other — and that's where things get difficult.
Three-quarters (76%) of respondents said they still rely on custom-coding for a quarter or more of all their integrations — a long, arduous process that often requires expensive third-party contractors and creates more and more technical debt. It must be updated continually to accommodate new tools and technologies as well as meet evolving compliance and security standards. And when one thing changes in this fragile web of interconnections, it causes a ripple effect of problems throughout.
For this reason, nearly two-thirds (62%) of IT leaders surveyed expressed the desire for integration capabilities that could help them avoid the need for costly, resource-intensive custom-coding projects. Companies are increasingly demanding a smarter "integrate once/integrate everywhere" approach to integration as opposed to traditional methods that haven't changed much in more than 30 years.
3. You Can't Optimize What You Can't Visualize
Optimizing cloud deployments and controlling costs requires both visibility into cloud infrastructure and ways to address issues as they arise. The bad news is, 78% of respondents said they lacked the visibility necessary to optimize cloud deployments, while 54% said they didn't have automated methods of optimizing cloud costs.
Lack of a single source of truth when it comes to hybrid cloud infrastructure is one issue. Many organizations rely on the visibility tools native to the different clouds they use. But using multiple tools in this way means that a comprehensive view of the whole must be cobbled together, if it can be produced at all.
The challenges here are particularly acute when it comes to cost control. Exporting cloud bills to Excel, analyzing gigabytes of raw data line by line, and chasing down engineers to turn off unused cloud resources is simply ineffective.
IT leaders know these archaic and inefficient methods cost them money. And that's why 56% of respondents said they want automated methods for cost optimization with the ability to continuously notify stakeholders across the organization of cost overruns.
The New Cloud Order
The report reveals that too many enterprises are stuck using old cloud management approaches that hinder their digital transformation goals.
At the same time, IT leaders recognize the problem and see the path forward. They understand the need to make self-service IT easy for end users, to accelerate automation with faster, simpler integrations, and to reduce costs by connecting visibility and insight to immediate action. And there's even more good news: There are now cloud management tools and technologies that make this possible.
Self-service IT is now possible thanks to smarter approaches that simplify the process. Users no longer need to possess specialized skills or knowledge to access self-service resources. By abstracting away the underlying processes of complex technologies, self-service IT can finally be that "easy button" users want.
Custom-coding can now be largely eliminated and replaced by codeless, software-defined integrations. Enterprises can access pre-built integrations for many automation tools via a dynamic abstraction layer. When integrations become simple and mundane, accelerating automation initiatives and enabling a "best-of-breed" approach, enterprises can adopt the tools that best fit their particular needs and deploy them without wasting valuable time.
Finally, it is also possible to manage hybrid cloud infrastructure today through a single panel. This means enterprises can stop relying on native visibility tools and manual processes to analyze costs, identify cost overruns, and expose areas of inefficiency. This comprehensive visibility enables continuous detection and automatic remediation of idle resources in real time, so no one has to run around trying to find the right person to turn things off. It also enables enterprises to implement alert systems that can optimize decision-making processes across the organization by embedding awareness at key points of action.
Future-Proofing Digital Transformation
The report shows that, when it comes to hybrid cloud management and digital transformation, IT leaders are halfway there. They know that the old way of doing things isn't working anymore, and they know what they need to take them to the next level.
The complications and burdens of archaic cloud management will only grow heavier, acting as a constant drag on digital transformation. However, for those who embrace the new cloud order, proactively implement the next generation of cloud management solutions and avoid the three major potholes, their digital transformation journey will fuel a future of growth and opportunity.
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