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Multi-cloud computingUsage of public cloud computing services is fairly widespread, but a new survey of 130 IT professionals in organizations with more than 500 employees conducted by OpsRamp, a provider of an IT operations management platform, sheds some interesting light on how broad and deep reliance on those services is.

The survey finds that while 90 percent of the respondents have been employing public cloud services for at least a year, only 40 percent are using those services to run production workloads. More interestingly still, only 29 percent describe their usage of those cloud services as mature. In fact, 84 percent say they will be continuing to move workloads to the public cloud over the next two years. Three quarters (75 percent) also report that they expect to be employing two or more public cloud services in that same period.

Push and pull of the public cloud

The primary drivers of public cloud adoption continue to be flexibility (62 percent), a desire to reduce capital expenditure (47 percent), and usage-based pricing models (47 percent). A full 94 percent said cloud infrastructure reduces setup and maintenance costs.

Right now, 60 percent of respondents said that more than 30 percent of their organization’s current IT spending is on public cloud services, and more than half (55 percent) believe their IT costs would drop by at least 30 percent from the use of cloud infrastructure. But interestingly, only 27 percent said that more than 50 percent of IT spend would be on cloud in the next few years. Clearly, other factors ranging from application performance to security and compliance issues appear to be tethering some classes of workloads to a local data center. In many cases, the cost of migrating data into the cloud is also prohibitive.

Complexity creates MSP opportunity

Jordan Sher, director of corporate marketing for OpsRamp, says it doesn’t look like there will be a mass migration of all workloads to public clouds any time soon. Instead, IT organizations are moving to federate the distribution of workloads across both public and private clouds. Naturally, this type of multi-cloud computing creates a significant opportunity for managed service providers because the chances that any IT organization will be able to master all the nuances of managing two or more public clouds in addition to their own internal IT environment are very low indeed. Each environment has its own management plane, and there’s no sign of anything approaching a unified management plane for multiple clouds arriving any time soon. The odds are high that organizations are going to need to rely on some external MSP expertise for at least one of those environments.

The challenge MSPs will face is that each customer is likely to ask them to manage a different type of public cloud. To address the total market opportunity, MSPs will need to master at least two public cloud computing environments in addition to whatever on-premises practice they typically provide today. While more opportunity is always welcome, MSPs will need to factor into their business models the considerable costs associated with acquiring all that expertise.

As MSPs gear up for 2018, the good news is that IT has never been more distributed. At the same time, however, managing and securing distributed computing environments at scale is not for the faint of heart.

Photo: riggsby/

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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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