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Multi-Cloud Survey: 72% Using Multiple Cloud Providers, But 56% Have No Multi-Cloud Strategy

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We recently launched a survey of IT professionals to see how multi-cloud adoption is progressing among members of the community. While we packaged it as a fun quiz to “Learn Your Cloud Animal” based on what results were chosen, the results offer some great insight.

Most crucially, we discovered that while 72% of respondents were currently using multiple cloud providers, a whopping 56% of them had no multi-cloud strategy or long-term roadmap.

We dug in deeper to learn how these IT pros were using external service providers to manage multi-cloud workloads, whether they were using multi-cloud management tools, if containers entered the equation, and much more.

Read on to learn the rest, including the top challenges faced in a multi-cloud environment.


Survey Methodology

The survey was sent out via e-mail to a list of IT professionals within the Green House Data database. It was also posted on LinkedIn and Twitter. Participants were incentivized with a random drawing of a $100 gift card.

The survey was also designed to offer a Quiz Result upon completion. Based on the adoption rates and technologies used by the respondent, they would be assigned a “Cloud Animal.”

We had 132 participants representing a wide range of industries including Finance & Insurance, Information Technology, Arts & Entertainment, Professional & Business Services, Manufacturing, Agriculture, Healthcare, Retail, and Leisure & Hospitality.

Nearly 50% of those who completed the survey were at the IT Management or Executive level. Others included Systems Administrators, Analysts, Heldesk / Support, Technicians, and Engineers.


Multi-Cloud Adoption Rates and Platforms in Use

Unsurprisingly, the cloud was in wide use across almost all respondents.

This makes sense when half answered they used a hybrid cloud design. A wide mix of deployment scenarios means there is a large discrepancy in the percentage of workloads running on premise vs. strictly in the cloud.

When it comes to multi-cloud adoption itself, the vast majority (65%) were using between 4 and 5 different cloud providers. 17% of respondents were only using one cloud provider, 12% were using 6 to 10 providers, and 6% were using 10 or more.

Over half of these IT pros were looking at an additional 2 to 3 cloud platforms or services outside of their production environment. 12% were experimenting with just one or 4 to 5 additional platforms; and 23% were not experimenting with any additional platforms outside of their production IT infrastructure.

Planning for Multi-Cloud

So why are people using multiple cloud services to meet their IT needs? We asked the primary reasons and while they were all fairly popular, the most frequently chosen was to gain Availability Zones or add Specific Cloud Locations. A full 38% of respondents chose this as a reason for multi-cloud.

33% wanted to Mitigate Vendor Lock-In, 31% needed Specific Features only offered by one platform, 25% cited Compliance or Security, 25% thought they could get a Performance boost from multi-cloud, and 22% were looking for Reduced Costs.

However, despite these lofty goals, it appears that the long-term direction of cloud adoption is not widely planned out ahead of time. Only 44% reported having a Multi-Cloud Strategy or Roadmap, leaving the majority without. 11% said they did not have one at all, but 45% said that they plan to implement a multi-cloud strategy in the near future.


Insourced vs. Outsourced Cloud Management

With over half of IT professionals surveyed answering they use a hybrid, multi-cloud environment with 4 to 5 different cloud providers and experimenting with 4 to 5 more, we have to wonder who is managing all those platforms, not to mention what tools they’re using to do so.

One third (33%) said that they use outside service providers to help manage their cloud environment, leaving 67% managing entirely in-house. One half of respondents estimated that only 0 – 10% of their overall cloud environment was outsourced. 17% outsourced up to a quarter of their cloud resources, 5% outsourced up to half of their cloud resources, 22% outsourced between half and three-quarters of their cloud environment, and 6% outsourced management of the vast majority of their cloud.

And finally, despite many choosing to manage their cloud resources in-house, only 42% said they had their own in-house Cloud Service team. 21% reported they did not plan to add a Cloud Service team at all. 37% answered that they did not currently have a Cloud Service team, but they planned to add one.


Management Tools In Use

With quite a few respondents choosing to manage their own resources, it was surprising to learn that only 11% had a multi-cloud management platform like Flexera/RightScale, Scalr, or VMware CloudHealth in use, leaving 89% without a specific multi-cloud management tool.

With only 39% reporting they did not use containers, we expected a higher percentage to be using a container management or orchestration platform like Swarm or Kubernetes as well. Instead, 53% reported they did not have one in production.

Top Multi-Cloud Challenges

This all paints an interesting picture of the state of multi-cloud adoption. There are clearly many compelling reasons for IT pros to adopt a variety of cloud platforms and services and use them in concert. But they seem to be largely going it alone with little outside assistance or long-term planning. Not many have added additional management tools or platforms beyond what is provided by the CSP.

We did ask about the top challenges when managing these wide-ranging multi-cloud environments. Despite the lack of management platforms, only 22% cited Interoperability as a primary obstacle.

However, even though half of our respondents said they outsourced management of less than 10% of their environment, when it comes to challenges, lack of expertise was cited by over one third! It’s clear that some outside assistance could go a long way towards wrangling a complex cloud environment.

The top challenge? Security and Compliance, which 44% said was hard to manage across multiple providers and services. Next in line were Governance and Budget Overruns, each at 33%, followed by Interoperability as described, then “Shadow Cloud” at 17%, and finally Performance with 11% saying their multi-cloud didn’t run as well as it cloud.

Although the use of multiple cloud providers has no doubt been fairly commonplace for many years now, the concept of multi-cloud has only taken off in the past couple. We expect these survey results to shift and change rather than stand as representative. As the market matures, native multi-cloud management tools will likely emerge. IT teams may develop the knowledge to continue management on their own; or as they develop long-term multi-cloud strategies, they may turn to third parties to help manage an ever more complex web of cloud licensing, portals, and technologies.

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