There will be no shortage of strategic challenges confronting IT leaders and infrastructure managers in 2020, but one issue rises above the pack: Migrating applications to the cloud. That’s according to new survey data published this week by INAP at Gartner’s IT Infrastructure, Operations and Cloud Strategies Conference in Las Vegas.
This is the second year INAP asked 500 IT professionals with cloud, server or data center management responsibilities to select their top three challenges from a list of perennial issues.
The results showcase a reshuffling of the leading challenges, with cloud migrations supplanting 2019’s No. 1 answer—“protecting the organization from cyberattacks”—for the top spot in 2020. Take a look at the full list here and read on for analysis and commentary from INAP experts.
“Migrating applications to the cloud” sits six points above the rest of the list, and “adopting and/or managing a multicloud strategy” will be a top challenge for 28 percent, tying for third. A simple look at market trends may explain why, according to Jennifer Curry, senior vice president of Global Cloud Services at INAP.
“We shouldn’t be surprised by the survey given the current forecasts around growth in the public cloud services market and infrastructure as a service spending,” said Curry, pointing to 12.6 percent CAGR and 27.5 percent CAGR in those respective areas between 2018-2022. “Cloud and IaaS are becoming easier to consume with container-based solutions and more applications that are born in the cloud or are cloud-ready. This also makes it easier to put your workloads in the environment where they work best – businesses don’t have to subscribe to an all-in or all-out strategy.”
But that doesn’t mean making the journey to the cloud is without its hurdles.
“Cost overruns are the biggest consequences of migrations gone awry,” said Curry. “Delays caused by application performance issues, downtime caused by botched migrations, unexpected security and compliance issues—all of these issues cost money.”
Once new cloud environments come online, the work is far from over, as each need to be monitored and optimized on an ongoing basis. The key to overcoming all of these challenges is a mix of people and prep work, according Curry.
“Ensure you have all the right skills inside of your organization or the right third-party partners to get the most value out of your multicloud strategy,” she said. “It’s also critical to understand where all of your workloads belong and what your true goals are. Is it to move everything off premise in a lift and shift, or is the real goal to optimize and transform with a combination of IaaS, PaaS and SaaS? Being able to define the business value is key to designing the multicloud environment.”
Although it dropped five points from last year’s poll, protecting against cyberattacks is the only other challenge selected by greater than 30 percent of IT leaders and infrastructure managers.
“Cyber attacks are no longer just system or nuisance attacks,” said Jeff Atkinson, Chief Information Officer of INAP. “They’ve gotten much more sophisticated and, in some ways, easier for perpetrators to conduct. This has opened up a much larger world of potential threats and targets—putting organizations of all shapes and sizes in the crosshairs. Given that almost all industries are reliant on some form of digital footprint, it has to be a primary concern to the business and by extension, IT.”
Budget or headcount constraints is a challenge for 24 percent of IT pros, dropping slightly from 26 percent last year. Separately, respondents were asked to agree or disagree with the following statement:
Despite a strong majority agreeing that IT budgets will be in a good spot for 2020, the confidence waned slightly for non-senior leaders. Of this group, 1 in 4 disagreed with the statement and only 14% strongly feel their budget will be optimal.
The biggest movers in this year’s list of challenges are “skills shortages hindering key initiatives” (+7) and “adopting and/or implementing a disaster recovery or business continuity strategy” (-7).
While disaster recovery may simply be less of roadblock as more economically viable and cloud-enabled replication solutions gain popularity, skills shortages in specialty areas may be an issue to watch due to the growing scope of the IT function, according to Atkinson.
“Every company has some need for IT talent and thus are all competing for the same people,” he said. “This challenge is increased if the skills needed are specialized. Because of this, the IT industry will continue to move to outsourced solutions, allowing companies to put more toward attracting and retaining the specialized talent needed.”
The data reflected in this report was derived from a survey of 508 IT professionals with data center, server and cloud infrastructure responsibilities who work at businesses and enterprises in the United States and Canada with greater than 100 employees. The survey, commissioned by INAP and facilitated by Precision Sample, was conducted in October 2019. The margin of error is ±5 percent at the 90 percent confidence level.