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A survey of 500 IT leaders from organizations with over 500 employees in the United States and United Kingdom suggests IT teams are now more than halfway over the proverbial fence as an increasing number of workloads shift to the cloud. Less clear is to what degree running workloads, both in on-premises IT environments and in the cloud, is now the new normal or if it is merely a transition period.

Conducted by Snow Software, a provider of a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) application for managing IT assets, the survey finds 68 percent of IT leaders now have a hybrid cloud strategy made up of both public and private clouds.

Not surprisingly, one-third (33 percent) of IT leaders said mounting cybersecurity threats are their greatest infrastructure management challenge, followed by lack of integration between new and old infrastructure technologies (26 percent), meeting governance and compliance requirements (25 percent), and managing spend (24 percent).

When asked what cloud management issue they wish they could address in the blink of an eye, nearly a quarter (24 percent) cited cybersecurity concerns, followed by lack of skilled IT staff (18 percent), and lack of cloud standardization (14 percent).

The survey also surfaced a significant discrepancy in the level of cloud expertise. Nearly two-thirds of C-level IT executives (63 percent) rated themselves as experts in their knowledge of the different types of cloud services. However, only 20 percent of IT managers, and just under one-third of IT directors (32 percent), rated themselves as experts.

MSPs can fill cloud security knowledge gap

As most managed service providers (MSPs) know, the further removed an executive is from IT, the less they know about how it works. The survey makes it clear that even after more than a decade of cloud computing, there is still a significant knowledge gap that MSPs are best poised to fill.

One of the biggest areas where that knowledge is especially lacking is cloud security. That issue has little to do with the platforms themselves. Rather, the processes widely employed to provision cloud resources are deeply flawed from a security perspective.

Most cloud services are provisioned by developers directly using infrastructure-as-code (IaC) tools, such as Terraform. Most of those developers have little cybersecurity expertise, so it’s become fairly common for cloud services to be misconfigured in ways that allow data to be exfiltrated via ports that were inadvertently left open.

Cloud security opportunities for MSPs centers on enabling organizations to better secure their cloud environments, without necessarily slowing down the rate at which applications are being built and deployed on the cloud. Regardless of how insecure cloud applications may be, few organizations are willing to sacrifice speed for safety, so it’s up to the MSP to make sure both are attained and maintained at a time when more workloads are running in the cloud than ever before.

Nearly half of IT leaders (46 percent) claim cloud services have been critical to operations during the COVID-19 pandemic, with 71 percent reporting they have increased overall cloud spend in the last 12 months. A similar percentage (70 percent) also are using public cloud platforms more. One-third (33 percent) increased the capacity of their organizations’ cloud resources by an additional 26-50 percent in the past year, while 44 percent expect to add to cloud services to support employees that are working remotely more frequently.

Cloud computing is now pervasively employed. However, it’s clear to every MSP that how well those platforms are employed from one organization to the next often differs widely.

Photo: PHOTOCREO Michal Bednarek / Shutterstock

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Mike Vizard

Posted by Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard has covered IT for more than 25 years, and has edited or contributed to a number of tech publications including InfoWorld, eWeek, CRN, Baseline, ComputerWorld, TMCNet, and Digital Review. He currently blogs for IT Business Edge and contributes to CIOinsight, The Channel Insider, Programmableweb and Slashdot. Mike blogs about emerging cloud technology for Smarter MSP.

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