Trending Up: What Motivates Companies To Move To The Cloud?

Migration Mashup

CloudEndure specializes at getting organizations onboard the cloud. The company's migration software is used by businesses large and small -- recommended (and sometimes funded) by hyper-scale cloud providers to their customers.

The Israeli-American startup focused on enterprise workload mobility offers a conversion engine that moves any workload running in a Windows or Linux environment, without interruption, to just about any target cloud. The engine transfers boot volumes through continuous block-level replication, allowing live workloads to be migrated with minimal operational disruption to most major Infrastructure-as-a-Service providers, including Google's Compute Engine, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and OpenStack environments.

CloudEndure recently conducted its annual study of cloud migration trends and attitudes, trying to understand what motivates companies to move to the cloud, what considerations influence their buying decisions, what obstacles hold them back, and what the outlook appears to be for public cloud adoption over the next couple of years.

Who's Talking

CloudEndure polled 258 IT professionals from around the world during the first three months of 2016.

Almost two-thirds of the respondents work for companies that serve enterprise customers. Just above one-third are in the consumer space, and 40 percent cater to small and midsize businesses.

Almost 40 percent of the respondents work at organizations with fewer than 100 employees. The same percentage are from large companies with more than 1,000 employees.

As to their responsibilities, 29 percent of those who answered the survey are responsible for cloud operations, and another 29 percent for general IT operations. Just over half of the respondents are directors or managers, and one-fourth of respondents hold vice president or C-level positions.

Existing Environments

The public cloud is already the most common IT environment among the respondents of this survey, with 43 percent running workloads hosted by a public provider.

Thirty-one percent are operating virtualized environments, 20 percent are running workloads on physical machines and 7 percent have set up private clouds.

As to specific platforms for production workloads, 42 percent of all respondents are using Amazon Web Services, and 29 percent are using VMware's vSphere virtualization platform. Seven percent are running physical servers and 4 percent are running environments on top of the KVM hypervisor.

Microsoft Azure, Citrix XenServer, Microsoft Hyper-V and Google Cloud Platform were cited as their most critical resource for production workloads by less than 5 percent of respondents.

Breaking out the private cloud users, 54 percent are running OpenStack and 14 percent are running CloudStack. The remaining one-third are using a variety of other cloud-building technologies.

Migration Plans 2016-2018

While the public cloud is already the most prevalent environment among the companies polled by CloudEndure -- used by 43 percent of respondents -- that share will only grow in the next couple of years.

Based on the respondents' migration plans, 56 percent will be using public cloud resources within a year, and 64 percent in two years -- representing annual growth of 22 percent.

Private cloud is being used to host 7 percent of current workloads, but will climb to 9 percent in a year, and stay at that mark after 2 years, according to CloudEndure.

What's striking from the results of the survey is the expected drop in share for non-cloud environments.

Virtual machines, now used by 31 percent of the organizations polled, will drop to 23 percent in 2016 and 17 percent by 2018, according to the migration plans shared by respondents.

And physical machines will decline from 20 percent this year, to 13 percent in 2017 and 9 percent by 2018.

Enterprise Migration Plans 2016-2018

"One place where there was a really big and meaningful difference," said Ramel Levin, CloudEndure's vice president of marketing, was between the migration trends of enterprises and those of the overall group.

While public cloud is far and away the platform of choice overall, when considering enterprises alone, virtualized non-cloud environments, like the kinds built with VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V technologies, are well in the lead.

And while virtual machines account for almost half the computing resources used by enterprise respondents, their share will shrink from 46 percent today, to 34 percent in 2017, to 24 percent in 2018, according to the plans of survey respondents.

That trend is on display in bare-metal environments, with physical machine use among respondents expected to drop from 23 percent today to 14 percent next year, and 11 percent by 2018.

Public cloud utilization should rise from 21 percent in 2016, to 37 percent in 2017, to 48 percent in 2018 -- putting enterprise usage in 2018 where the overall group is right now.

Essentially, enterprises are lagging by about two years, Levin said.

"They're much more cautious about adopting public cloud," he explained. "They have regulatory and compliance concerns, they have more computing resources."

Migration Drivers

CloudEndure asked respondents what's motivating their organizations to adopt the cloud.

Achieving high availability for workloads is the main driver of migrations, according to the polling, with 27 percent of respondents identifying that issue as their primary consideration.

Reliability and cost savings follow, each cited by 21 percent as their motivator. Security and compliance and application support were cited by 20 and 13 percent of respondents, respectively, as the considerations driving their decision to adopt cloud infrastructure.

Migration Workloads

Application testing and development, Web apps, websites and databases all were cited by about 13 percent of respondents as the workloads they most would like to migrate to the cloud.

Around 9 percent are more focused on email migrations, custom business applications and business analytics.

At the lower end of the list came the ’heavyweight’ enterprise applications such as customer relationship management and enterprise resource planning, each cited by 6.4 percent of respondents, and less than 6 percent were looking to migrate e-commerce and online tools.

"It was really interesting and kind of shocking to see the very clear grouping of the different types of workloads companies are migrating," Levin told CRN.

But the breakdown is not surprising, he added.

Web-facing applications and test environments are far easier to lift and shift to the cloud than big, mission-critical enterprise systems like ERP and CRM.

Migration Phases

CloudEndure broke up the process of migrating to the cloud into four phases: planning, proof of concept, migration execution, and testing and optimizing post-migration.

Respondents were asked how many weeks their staff is spending on each phase, measured by the number of people involved in the project multiplied by the number of weeks they dedicate to it.

The migration execution phase lasts on average about six months (27 man-weeks) -- 45 percent of a total project's time. Planning typically takes 13 weeks, or 23 percent of the overall project.

Proof of concept takes on average seven weeks, and the testing and optimizing that happens after deployment occupies an additional 12 weeks of staff time.

Migration Strategies

There's a roughly even split between companies that opt to perform a lift-and-shift migration and those planning to re-architect their environments for the cloud.

"There's a big benefit to re-architect your applications in the target location," Levin told CRN. "Then you can enjoy all the benefits to the full extent that the cloud provides you."

But the obvious drawback is the re-architecting process requires serious engineering resources.

"It’s a lot of work, with a big upside if you're able to do it. But most companies are afraid of doing it," Levin said.

Lift-and-shift migrations are quicker, easier and more cost-effective. That's why that approach, often executed with technologies like the one CloudEndure offers its customers, is a little more prevalent, cited as the migration strategy by 52 percent of respondents.

Migration Downtime

It shouldn't surprise anyone that most companies would prefer not having to suffer any downtime during the course of their cloud migrations.

When asked what window of downtime they could afford to withstand during migration cutover, almost half -- 44 percent -- of respondents said none. But if there had to be some downtime, it needed to be restrained to under an hour.

Almost half of respondents said they could tolerate between an hour and a day of downtime, and just over 7 percent told CloudEndure they actually could afford more than a full day of their systems being offline.

"It's interesting that close to half the companies want to have a very short, if any, downtime window for completing their migration," Levin said.

While that expectation makes sense, "it's not trivial from a technology perspective," he said, pointing out that CloudEndure's solution enables live migrations with no downtime at all.

Migration Targets

What factors are companies considering when choosing platforms to migrate to?

Reliability tops that list, cited by 22 percent of respondents as their top consideration.

The runner-up is high availability, cited by 20 percent. Security and compliance rounds out the top three, with 17 percent of respondents considering that their primary selection factor.

An existing relationship with a vendor appears not to be very important when choosing a cloud provider -- only 3 percent of respondents took that kind of relationship into account above all other factors.

Migration Challenges

One-fourth of respondents said the top challenge when undertaking a cloud migration was minimizing downtime. Just over 20 percent said the hardest thing about moving to the cloud was the impact on the performance of their production workloads.

Technical challenges and feasibility were cited as the biggest challenge by roughly 20 percent of respondents.

An additional 19 percent worried most about loss of data, and 16 percent found keeping their budgets in check was their primary challenge.

Migration Costs

CloudEndure asked respondents to estimate their costs by dividing the total spend on their migration projects by the number of servers migrated.

Just over one-third of customers came to an estimate of between $101 and $200 per server.

An additional 22 percent fell in a higher-cost bracket of between $201 and $500 per server, and 17 percent were on the cheaper side of $10 to $100 per server.

But there were cost-per-server outliers on both ends of the financial spectrum -- 4 percent of respondents said they expect to pay more than $1,000 per server, and 11 percent less than $10 per server.