Moving to the cloud has become shorthand for a company being in the know, but businesses are not ready to completely abandon on-premise software.
More likely, enterprises have hybrid cloud systems, which are some combination of public cloud, private cloud, on-premises software, or all three. According to Forrester Research, 74% of enterprises describe their strategy as hybrid/multicloud.
Forrester found 62% of public cloud adopters are using more than two unique cloud environments/platforms.
"I think some form of hybrid cloud will be the most common arrangement for large organizations," Brighten Godfrey, co-founder and CTO of Veriflow, told CIO Dive in an interview.
"Some workloads will make more sense in the public could, some make more sense in the private cloud. What fraction depends on the organization," he said. On-premises software will still play a role, especially in very large companies and those in regulated industries.
Where hybrids work
In highly regulated industries, like banking and healthcare, public cloud is not an option for all operations and data.
"There may be some strategic reason to partition off some workloads," Godfrey said. Even if a company could wipe the slate clean and start all over again they would still be using a hybrid cloud because it can be more efficient in providing capabilities.
Hybrid clouds are workable for very large companies, where moving everything into the cloud is not realistic — like those on the Fortune 500 list, John Taylor, CTO of Panzura, told CIO Dive in an interview.
It would be impractical to move all of their legacy systems into the cloud. "They have too much on-prem to be able to move all into the cloud within this century," he said.
Hybrid cloud can be a good solution companies that work with the public sector, where information and domain may be required to be stored in a specific geographic region. "You can chose where the data lives in the region and that makes that sort of environment allows multiple people to access the same data without having to go to one location for it," Taylor said.
On the flip side, Godfrey doesn't expect all newer companies to go hybrid.
"Something like a modern internet video delivery service is built on a public cloud from the ground up, it's using less critical services than a financial firm and subject to less regulatory requirements with less legacy infrastructure. They would have much more in the public cloud," he said.
A hybrid cloud won't simplify everything
In the 2019 Dimensional Research Survey, which they sponsored, Veriflow found public cloud adoption has created unforeseen turmoil across the networking, operations, cloud and DevOps teams.
Part of that chaos is in knowing who's responsible for what. More than half of survey respondents believe the networking team is responsible for networking within public cloud environments, while the rest of the respondents were split with responsibility falling elsewhere.
More than three-quarters of respondents reported having problems within the public cloud portion of their network regularly, and 79% said they have less network visibility into the public cloud.
"The cloud doesn't simplify everything," Godfrey said. "It makes some things easier, but there is maybe this idealized view of 'we'll just put it in the cloud and that makes it easy.'"
The key to avoiding this kind of chaos, confusion and breakdowns relies in having a skilled team with clear responsibility when it comes to the cloud, and knowing the cloud's capabilities — and faults — when it comes to a specific company's work.
"You have to know what cloud is good at and what it's for," Godfrey said, or "you might be in for a surprise."