A global survey of 1,250 business and IT leaders published by NTT finds the number of organizations that plan to outsource some aspect of IT environments in the next 18 months will double.

According to the survey, 23 percent of respondents currently outsource some portion of their IT environment, a number the survey projects will increase to nearly half (45 percent) by roughly the end of 2021.

Not surprisingly, the primary areas where IT leaders say they will be looking for the most help are cloud infrastructure and security. The survey finds cloud infrastructure (73 percent) and security (53 percent) dominate in terms of technologies currently outsourced to service providers. Those percentages are predicted to substantially increase within the next 18 months to 77 percent and 64 percent, respectively.

While the potential opportunities for IT service providers are significant, no one should underestimate the level of investment that will be required to realize that growth. The first wave of cloud computing has up until now, been largely based on deploying the same types of monolithic applications that have run for the past two decades in an on-premises IT environments on a public cloud.

The next wave of applications will be built and deployed mainly using cloud native technologies such as containers, Kubernetes and serverless computing frameworks. Many organizations are looking to IT service providers to manage these emerging platforms because they don’t have the internal expertise to manage them on their own. In fact, the NTT survey identifies technical expertise is the number one driver for selecting a service provider.

Naturally, securing cloud-native applications will also require a completely different skill set. IT services providers will need to embrace the best DevSecOps practices to not only build and deploy applications on behalf of clients faster, but also secure them. Otherwise, vulnerabilities will be introduced into application environments as containers are ripped and replaced multiple times a day. Cybersecurity processes, as currently defined, will not be able to keep pace with what will become highly dynamic application environments.

The wave of transformation is about to accelerate

Organizations in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic have discovered that many existing monolithic applications are simply not flexible or resilient enough to be accessible from anywhere in the world, at scale. In fact, the NTT survey notes new product development is expected to have the most impact on IT decision making in the next 12 months (54 percent), followed by regulatory changes (51 percent), growing into new territories (48 percent) and skills shortages (47 percent).

As organizations craft business continuity plans for the future, they are clearly realizing how critical it is to digitize business processes at a faster rate. At the core of those digital business transformation initiatives will almost invariably be a set of cloud-native applications.

The challenge and the opportunity facing IT service provider is, of course, one in the same. They need to be able to survive the first few months of one the steepest economic downturns in history while making sure they are investing in the strategic skills required to thrive in 2021. Assuming no one gets whiplash, it should be one helluva ride.

Photo: Vitalii Vodolazskyi / Shutterstock

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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