Cloud News

4 Key Cloud Trends That Will Influence 2021

Wade Tyler Millward

A report from Flexera reveals there’s an opportunity for solution providers to take advantage of growing cloud use in corporate America.


Cloud use continues to grow in corporate America, but the industry is still far from reaching peak penetration, presenting an opportunity for solution providers.

That’s according to a report from Flexera that looks at cloud adoption, cloud trends and how these trends have changed over the years. The report surveyed 750 global cloud decision-makers and users in October and November.

Luis Alvarez, CEO of Salinas, Calif.-based Alvarez Technology Group—which offers cloud, Microsoft support and managed IT among other services—told CRN that the results match what he’s seeing in his business. Alvarez Technology Group’s cloud business has grown about 30 percent in the past 12 months thanks to customer migrations to Microsoft 365 and Azure, not to mention hosted Voice-over-IP.

“The growth has been across our entire client base, but in particular professional services have been accelerating the trend,” Alvarez said. “We anticipate the hybrid work model to stick around for a while so that will also drive adoption.”

Three-quarters of respondents said they have a central cloud team or cloud center of excellence to accelerate cloud adoption—77 percent of responding enterprises compared with 55 percent of responding smaller businesses. About 80 percent reported security and managing cloud spend as top challenges, followed by governance.

Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services were about tied for adoption, followed by Google Cloud, similar to last year’s report. Oracle Infrastructure Cloud, VMware Cloud on AWS and IBM Public Cloud round out the top players. Google Cloud saw the highest growth over 2020.

Customers Embrace Multi-Cloud Strategy

According to the Flexera report, about 40 percent of all participating organizations regardless of size use multi-cloud management tools. They reported use on average of 2.6 public clouds and 2.7 private clouds while experimenting with an additional 1.1 public clouds and an additional 2.2 private clouds.

About 90 percent of enterprises have a multi-cloud strategy and 80 percent have a hybrid cloud strategy—a combination of public and private clouds. Only 7 percent of enterprise respondents reported having a single public cloud strategy, with a fewer share of respondents having a single private cloud strategy. Enterprises are running about half of their workloads in a public cloud and storing 44 percent of data in a public cloud.

They plan to increase workloads in public clouds over 12 months by 8 percent while increasing data by 7 percent, according to the Flexera survey.

Among enterprises using a hybrid strategy, 76 percent said they incorporate multiple public clouds. More than half report using more than one private cloud.

Half of survey respondents said understanding app dependencies is the top challenge they face in cloud migration, followed by technical feasibility of migrating on-premises apps and assessing on-premises costs compared with cloud costs. Enterprises reported a better understanding of app dependencies compared with last year. Sixty-six percent cited it as a challenge in 2020 compared with 51 percent this year.

Full Potential Untapped

Half of the survey’s respondents of varying sizes still report siloing apps on different clouds. One-third of respondents reported they use more advanced architectures such as workload mobility between clouds and individual apps that span public and private clouds. Data integration was the most common multi-cloud architecture.

According to the report, cloud adoption in the Americas has lagged behind Europe due to the greater prevalence of COVID-19 abroad. Eighty-nine percent of European respondents increased cloud use due to COVID-19 compared with 61 percent of respondents from the Americas.

“I absolutely agree that we are not close to the end of this rush to the cloud,” Alvarez told CRN. “There are still a lot of businesses that are in the evaluation stage and are ramping up to make the move.”

Spending Goes Up

About 30 percent of respondents reported spending $12 million a year on public cloud, almost double the share of respondents a year ago. Almost 80 percent of respondents said they spent at least $1.2 million a year.

The numbers are similar just among enterprises—36 percent said they spend more than $12 million a year compared with 20 percent last year. About 80 percent said they spend more than $1.2 million a year, up from 74 percent a year ago. About half of enterprise respondents spent $1.2 million or more a year on AWS and the same amount on Azure. One-third said they spend $1.2 million or more a year on Google Cloud.

About 40 percent of small to midsize businesses spent less than $600,000 a year. About the same share spent more than $1.2 million, up from 32 percent last year.

Meanwhile, a separate report from Synergy Research Group earlier this year put enterprise spending on cloud infrastructure services globally at $130 billion in 2020, blowing by the $90 billion enterprises spent on data center products.

Not All Companies Think They Spend Well

It’s no surprise that cloud spending is big money. But survey respondents report about 30 percent of cloud spend wasted. While companies have automated some policies to reduce cloud costs—some policies with the highest share of automation are shutting down workloads after hours and right-sizing instances—others still require manual labor. The highest share of manual labor is for using the lowest-cost cloud, using the lowest-cost region and software license compliance.

Part of the issue is customers missing out on available discounts from vendors. About half of AWS and Azure users take advantage of the vendors’ reserved instances discounts. AWS’ Savings Plan, introduced in 2020, grew in use from 30 percent last year to 44 percent this year.

The industry has also seen cloud spending tools arise to help mitigate the problem including one from Ternary, a San Francisco-based startup offering what it’s billing as the first native cloud financial management tool built for Google Cloud.


Wade Tyler Millward

Wade Tyler Millward is an associate editor covering cloud computing and the channel partner programs of Microsoft, IBM, Red Hat, Oracle, Salesforce, Citrix and other cloud vendors. He can be reached at

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