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Enterprise Strategy Group | Getting to the Bigger Truth™
The Cloud Complexity
Why Organizations Must Unify and Simplify
the Management of Their Sprawling
By Adam DeMattia, Director of Research;
Mark Bowker, Senior Analyst; Scott Sinclair, Senior Analyst
Cloud Complexity Exists Today
of organizations think cloud management consistency would boost efficiency & simplify operations
have actually achieved
Background and Research Goals
In a first of its kind study, Dell Technologies, VMware, and Intel corporation set out to understand and benchmark how organizations were managing disparate cloud environments. To do so, we partnered with The Enterprise Strategy Group to conduct a global survey of 1,257 IT decision makers at organizations using public cloud services today.
What did we learn? In short, cloud chaos is the norm, with only a few organizations having harnessed the power of consistent cloud management. But there is good news too. Those who have achieved the consistency of unified cloud management and orchestration have achieved significant early gains versus their less advanced peers.
The recently completed survey included respondents from North America (38% of respondents), Western Europe (29%), Asia (17%), and Latin America (16%). All public- and private-sector organizations were included in the scope of the research, with a high level of involvement from technology (26%), manufacturing (17%), financial services (11%), retail (9%), and healthcare (8%) organizations.
Defining what it means to have harnessed cloud management consistency
To assess cloud management consistency, we included three questions in this survey:
How many infrastructure management tools are in use to administer public cloud resources?
Is the organization able to use any of the same infrastructure management tools on-premises as it does for public cloud resources?
Are the infrastructure management tools used across on- and off-premises locations extensively relied upon?
Only organizations that have consolidated their cloud management tools (three discrete tools or fewer), which are usable regardless of infrastructure locality (on-premises or off-premises), and are using those same tools to manage the majority of their on-premises environment were considered to have a high degree of cloud management consistency. Just 5% of the respondents surveyed reported their organization met all of these criteria today.
Figure 1. Characteristics and Scarcity of Consistent Cloud Managers
Consolidated cloud management tools
The organization must be using a manageable number of tools to administer cloud-resident infrastructure.
Used across both public and private clouds
Tools in use to manage public cloud infrastructure must also be usable for infrastructure in an on-premises private cloud environment.
Used extensively on-premises
Organizations must be actively using these tools to manage a material proportion of their on-premises infrastructure.
of all qualified respondents met all three criteria.
Consistent Cloud Management: An Unrealized Opportunity
In the survey, organizations that have not yet achieved a meaningful level of consistent cloud management were asked what they felt the impact would be if their organization’s cloud management experience was significantly more consistent. The results were noteworthy, including an expected:
Infrastructure cost savings of 19%, on average.
Reduction in the number of cloud-related security breaches, application outages, or other events affecting its public cloud-resident data by 30%, on average.
Improvement in developer experience and performance: 96% believe it would be easier for developers to push code to production, with 56% saying they would expect at least daily code pushes.
How cloud management consistency will drive simpler IT operations for greater efficiency and control
IT staff have many competing priorities. Performing basic operational tasks on their infrastructure should not be at the top of their task list. Their time is better spent strategizing hybrid cloud initiatives, collaborating with lines of business on digital transformation projects, or finding other ways to drive innovation and competitive differentiation for the company. Seventy-eight percent of respondents believe a more consistent cloud management experience will deliver increased management efficiency. How?
Seventy-eight percent of respondents believe a more consistent cloud management experience will deliver increased management efficiency."
The ability to ramp administrators’ skills and expertise faster.
With fewer tools, administrators can ramp productivity faster by eliminating a myriad of point tools to learn. Moreover, if an organization can consolidate cloud management into tools administrators already know, any ramp time condenses further and administrators can build on existing expertise. Finally, a consistent cloud management experience reduces the dollars and time tied up by training and consulting services.
Cutting down on time wasted by swivel-chair workflows.
Toggling between a myriad of tools to manage infrastructure is inefficient. By consolidating workflows within fewer management consoles, organizations can reclaim precious administrator productivity. When we asked respondents to quantify the person-hours that would be saved on infrastructure management if their organization were able to increase cloud management consistency, the mean response was 70.5 hours per week—the equivalent of nearly two full-time employees.
Figure 2. Efficiency Gains Expected Due to Increased Cloud Management Consistency
How many full-time equivalents (FTEs)/person-hours do you think your organization would save on infrastructure management if your organization were able to use consistent infrastructure management tools across on-premises and cloud locations? (Percent of respondents, N=1,195)
Source: Enterprise Strategy Group
person-hours to be saved per week
Consistent cloud management delivers on its efficiency promise…and then some
In the survey, organizations that had achieved a meaningful level of consistent cloud management were asked what the actual impact of their consistent cloud management had been to date. While these organizations are few and far between, the early returns they are reaping are impressive. Among all benefits presented in the survey, increased efficiency and simplified operations were reported most often, by 90% of respondents.
87% have accelerated their time to market
But that’s not all—respondents also report a number of other benefits beyond just IT efficiency: 87% have accelerated their time to market, 81% have increased the pace of innovation, 77% have sped up application development cycles, and 74% have enabled the adoption of transformative technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Figure 3. Differences between Actualized and Expected Benefits for Consistent Cloud Management
Incidence of Actual Benefits versus Incidence of Expected Benefits (Percent of respondents)
Source: Enterprise Strategy Group
Modernized private cloud infrastructure matters when it comes to optimized operations efficiency and agility
Of course, the management plane of the multi-cloud environment is just one driver of success. The private cloud infrastructure capabilities of the multi-cloud environment play a critical role in maximizing the value of initiatives. In the survey, we asked respondents how “cloud competitive” their on-premises storage, server, and data protection environments are with public cloud alternatives across features like time to deploy, simple management, and automation. Those with modern environments—that is, cloud competitive across all or almost all features—enjoy a significant advantage over others. They are able to:
Complete cloud projects with greater efficiency and efficacy.
Those with modern servers enjoy a 41% increase in their propensity to complete cloud projects under budget and a 60% increase in the number of cloud projects completed ahead of schedule.
Drive more business value with hybrid cloud.
Eighty-nine percent of organizations with modern storage report they are effective at driving value with hybrid cloud initiatives, while 91% of organizations with modern data protection infrastructure report the same.
How cloud management consistency will reduce risk exposure
Toggling between numerous management consoles creates more than inefficiency, it also contributes to risk. Ensuring that cloud instances are configured properly and patched efficiently is a critical step to preventing exploits and data loss. As the number of cloud instances running on different cloud platforms rises, so does the difficulty associated with ensuring the proper security and configuration of all those instances. Add to this the fact that different clouds can have different shared responsibility models, policies that state which aspects of security are the cloud provider’s versus the customer’s, and it is easy to see how effective security enforcement becomes nearly impossible in a multi-cloud environment. Again, one solution is to consolidate the management of cloud instances to a single interface, allowing administrators greater visibility and eliminating configuration and patching blind spots.
One way to accomplish this level of consistency is to standardize on a single public cloud vendor. However, this type of consolidation leaves organizations at risk to infrastructure pricing changes, service level agreement modifications, the public cloud vendor’s ability to satisfy compliance mandates, being locked into a single vendor’s technology roadmap, and a host of other “single point of failure” risk vectors. To date, organizations are resistant to this approach: More than four out of five (82%) utilize multiple infrastructure CSPs today and 86% expect to do so three years from now.
On average, respondents reported a 30% anticipated reduction on cloud security incidents.
However, organizations clearly see value in increasing cloud management consistency: 74% of respondents grappling with a fragmented cloud management experience agreed that greater consistency would reduce risk and enhance security for their organization. How much? On average, respondents reported a 30% anticipated reduction on cloud security incidents.
Consistent cloud management reduces risk for greater stability and smoother transitions
While expectations are high, cloud management consistency is delivering on its promise. We asked all respondents how many times in the past 12 months their organization experienced a security breach, application outage, or other event resulting in data loss or improper exposure of public cloud-resident data. When comparing organizations with fragmented cloud environments to those with consistent cloud environments, the differences were stark: On average, those with fragmented environments have experienced 3.6x more security and availability incidents compared with those few organizations achieving consistent cloud operations.
Respondents WITHOUT cloud management consistency today experience:
more security breaches
more data loss incidents
more app outages
How does consistent cloud management effect such dramatic changes to risk outcomes? Visibility is one major reason. Unifying the cloud management experience allows organizations to manage all their cloud infrastructure holistically, eliminating blind spots, maximizing control, and—as the data shows—dramatically improving security efficacy. Another reason is better control over workload placement: when each environment operates the same and can be centrally managed, you can let business and application needs determine where the workload resides. When we asked respondents to characterize the level of visibility and control, those with a consistent cloud management experience were 3.4x as likely to say they had total visibility and control.
Figure 4. Differences in Cloud Visibility, by Cloud Management Consistency
Rating of Cloud Infrastructure Visibility, by Cloud Management Consistency. (Percent of respondents)
Source: Enterprise Strategy Group
How cloud management consistency will enable workload mobility
83% of respondents consider the freedom to deploy workloads wherever they want to be one of their top-five technology initiatives. Slightly fewer, though still an impressive proportion (74%) of respondents, see increasing infrastructure consistency as helping cloud onboarding and migrations. Why? Using familiar tools and models for application deployments and migrations creates efficiencies for administrators, increasing their comfort with tasks while reducing their errors. To measure the magnitude of the expected benefit, ESG asked respondents to estimate the percentage reduction in the calendar time it would take to change where an application is run if it had more infrastructure management consistency across clouds. On average, respondents anticipated a 35% reduction.
Figure 5. Reduction in Expected Workload Migration Time Due to Increased Cloud Management Consistency
Source: Enterprise Strategy Group
reduction in cloud migration time
83% of respondents consider the freedom to deploy workloads wherever they want to be one of their top-five technology initiatives.
Validation that consistent cloud management yields real workload mobility improvements
In addition to asking about perceived cloud mobility improvements, we asked all respondents how long it actually takes for their organization to change where an application is run (i.e., move a workload from one public cloud to another or to on-premises infrastructure). Once again, the delta observed between organizations with fragmented cloud environments and those with a consistent cloud management experience is significant. While two-thirds (66%) of organizations with consistent cloud management report they can port a workload from one cloud to another in less than a week, 68% of organizations with fragmented cloud environments report the timeline would be multiple weeks or even months. Crunching the numbers, the average calendar time advantage enjoyed by organizations with a consistent cloud management experience relative to those without is about 2.4 work-weeks per cloud migration. The ability to shave time off these types of moves can be the difference between an organization gaining a competitive edge over its peer group or being left behind, bogged down in a prolonged migration effort.
Figure 6. Differences in Workload Portability, by Cloud Management Consistency
Time to Migrate Workloads from One Location to Another, by Cloud Management Consistency. (Percent of respondents)
Source: Enterprise Strategy Group
Cloud consistency saves
work weeks per cloud migration on average.
More than four out of five organizations (83%) extensively using HCI today have repatriated one or more mission-critical workloads.
Private cloud infrastructure matters when it comes migration decisions
One of the reasons organizations so highly desire the freedom to deploy workloads wherever they want is because there are many viable locations and consumption models for applications. However, only by basing the workload delivery decisions on technical requirements and business needs can the organization achieve the best results. Over time, many organizations find that workloads migrated to public clouds may not be well-suited for those environments. Nowhere is this more apparent than among organizations building modernized private clouds on the backs of hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI). More than four out of five organizations (83%) extensively using HCI today have repatriated one or more mission-critical workloads , migrating them from public cloud infrastructure back on-premises—a figure 20% higher than among organizations not using HCI (69%). Why? HCI, along with automated lifecycle management, greatly reduces the management burden of on-premises deployments driving on-premises and public cloud parity.
How cloud management consistency will reduce costs
Nearly seven out of ten respondents foresee increased cloud management consistency driving down overall costs. Why? Application developers, and their code, are expected to be more efficient. By optimizing applications for a unified infrastructure platform—wherever the underlying infrastructure resides—developers improve their expertise and may eliminate or reduce application architecture decisions that can drive up costs in a cloud world, such as applications with unnecessary data egress to an external microservice.
Similarly, as applications become more portable, organizations will be able to adjust where workloads run in real time to capitalize on changing economic profiles among clouds—for example, if a public cloud provider cuts their prices or if an on-premises technology refresh dramatically reduces on-premises operational costs.
All of these technical impacts, and many others, have a direct impact on the overall cost of the environment, so it is not surprising to note that respondents believe increasing cloud management consistency would reduce infrastructure costs by an average of 19%.
NEARLY 7 OUT OF 10
respondents foresee increased cloud management
consistency driving down overall costs.
Figure 6. Reduction in Infrastructure Costs Expected Due to Increased Cloud Management Consistency
By how much do you believe your organization could reduce infrastructure costs by utilizing more consistent management tools? (Percent of respondents, N=1,195)
Source: Enterprise Strategy Group
reduction in infrastructure costs
Organizations that have achieved cloud management consistency have completed 74% of their cloud projects on or under budget.
Cloud management consistency keeps cloud costs from spiraling out of control
In order to assess the extent to which cost improvements are materializing, we asked all respondents about their ability to complete cloud projects relative to budget expectations. The data provides evidence that supports the idea that cloud management consistency drives real cost improvements for organizations.
Respondents at organizations that have achieved cloud management consistency have completed 74% of their cloud projects on or under budget , a 19% increase relative to fragmented cloud management environments.
Delivering greater business agility to accelerate innovation
In the digital economy, data and software are the enterprise’s secret sauce. With this in mind, it is easy to see the multiple ways increased cloud management consistency will also drive business agility.
When we asked respondents about the impact on developers of increasing infrastructure consistency between on-premises and public cloud locations, 97% stated it would make developers’ lives easier if they only needed to build for one environment. Similarly, 96% stated it would be easier for developers to push code to production. In fact, when we asked respondents how often their organization would deploy new code to production if cross-cloud consistency were improved, the majority (56%) thought they would be able to achieve daily code push frequency.
Figure 7. Expected Frequency of Code Deployment After Increasing Infrastructure Consistency
How often do you think your organization would deploy new code to production if it used the same management tools regardless of infrastructure location? (Percent of respondents, N=1,190)
Source: Enterprise Strategy Group
stated it would make developers’ lives easier if they only needed to build for one environment.
IT operations teams will be freed up from mundane infrastructure break-fix tasks and able to collaborate with their line-of-business counterparts on more important priorities—from rationalizing application portfolios, through advancing analytics initiatives, to discussing the requirements of the next game-changing business application. Nearly all respondents (97 %) believe that if their organization were able to use consistent infrastructure management tools across on-premises and cloud locations, their IT staff would be more flexible to refocus on new projects based on need.
The expected business impact of the increased agility enabled by cloud consistency was quantified in three ways in the survey:
Reduce launch or product cycle time by
We asked respondents how much they felt increasing cloud management consistency would impact time to market. On average, respondents expected to reduce their launch or product cycle time by 6.1 weeks.
Net-new products or services rolled out annually
We also asked respondents how many incremental products/services they expected their organization could launch annually with cloud management consistency. The average response was 5.2 net-new products/ or services rolled out annually.
more of their cloud projects on or ahead of schedule.
Finally, we validated that organizations with cloud management consistency complete 23% more of their cloud projects on or ahead of schedule.
Whether getting products into the hands of customers sooner, getting products to market that wouldn’t have existed otherwise, or both, cloud management consistency is expected to dramatically transform organizational innovation.
Figure 8. Accelerated Innovation Expected Due to Increased Cloud Management Consistency
How many additional new products/services do you think your organization could launch annually if it had better management tool consistency across public cloud and on-premises locations? (Percent of respondents, N=886)
Source: Enterprise Strategy Group
Cloud management consistency is a game changer for IT teams
Whether discussing expectations or reality, respondents see multifaceted value from increasing the consistency of managing their cloud environments. It’s important to understand how these benefits roll up to impact bigger picture considerations.
For example, all organizations in the survey were operating a hybrid environment—with some infrastructure on-premises and some residing in one or more public clouds. But how effective have their hybrid cloud initiatives been to date at driving value for the organization? The answer is generally positive, though there is a clear divide based on cloud management consistency: 38% of organizations with cloud management consistency report these initiatives have been very effective at driving value for the organizations compared with 27% of organizations without cloud management consistency.
Figure 9. Differences in IT’s Standing, by Cloud Management Consistency
Perception of IT, by Cloud Management Consistency. (Percent of respondents)
Source: Enterprise Strategy Group
Strive for cloud consistency. The research is abundantly clear: the opportunity cost of not creating a consistent cloud management experience is high. Organizations that do not advance on this front will be out-innovated by competitors that do, while spending more and increasing organizational risk. The good news is that we are in the early stages of the game, but organizations should focus on significant cloud consistency improvements over the next 12-18 months.
Prioritize private cloud investments. As evidenced by workload repatriation behaviors, the future of IT environments is hybrid. While cloud management consistency is critical, it is not the only requisite for optimized hybrid cloud success. Organizations should ensure their on-premises infrastructure is modernized, cloud-compatible, hyperconverged, and API-driven.
Skill up transformational roles. Successful cloud management consistency will be transformative for IT teams: 74% of organizations with cloud consistency have increased AI/ML usage and 77% of organizations with cloud consistency have accelerated app development. As cloud management workflows are streamlined, technology teams should focus on training and recruiting talent with the skillsets needed to advance analytics, DevOps, and intelligent automation initiatives.
Not sure where to start? Ask for help from the experts. For many organizations, enacting cloud management consistency now may feel like trying to squeeze toothpaste back into the tube: Rationalizing cloud services in use as well as the native controls to manage them may seem daunting. If this describes you, you are not alone. Our research shows that more than nine out of ten organizations (91%) work with third parties, be they IT vendors, system integrators, value-added resellers, or all three, to help architect and implement cloud infrastructure projects.
How Dell Technologies Cloud Can Help
This research was commissioned by Dell Technologies, VMware, and Intel Corporation, all of which are keenly focused on helping organizations achieve their cloud goals with Dell Technologies Cloud. Any technology decision must be made with consideration for the people, processes, and current state accounted for. Dell Technologies is focused on meeting organizations where they are and delivering the technology and services solutions necessary to help them architect a winning multi-cloud IT strategy that builds on existing tools and skillsets to unlock better outcomes.
Dell Technologies Cloud built on VMware Cloud Foundation, is a set of cloud infrastructure solutions designed to enable a consistent operating model and simplified management across private clouds, public clouds, and edge locations, which reduces the barriers of cloud adoption and provides the ability to let application and business requirements determine where workloads reside. This vision for the Dell Technologies portfolio is based on an understanding of cloud as an operating model, not a place, and ambition to become the trusted technology partner for organizations that are looking to reduce the complexity of multiple cloud environments with a consistent infrastructure and operations layer.
To learn more about how Dell Technologies Cloud can help you, start here.
All trademark names are property of their respective companies. Information contained in this publication has been obtained by sources The Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) considers to be reliable but is not warranted by ESG. This publication may contain opinions of ESG, which are subject to change from time to time. This publication is copyrighted by The Enterprise Strategy Group, Inc. Any reproduction or redistribution of this publication, in whole or in part, whether in hard-copy format, electronically, or otherwise to persons not authorized to receive it, without the express consent of The Enterprise Strategy Group, Inc., is in violation of U.S. copyright law and will be subject to an action for civil damages and, if applicable, criminal prosecution. Should you have any questions, please contact ESG Client Relations at 508.482.0188.
ESG Research Insights Paper “The Cloud Complexity Imperative: Why Organizations Must Unify and Simplify the Management of their Sprawling Multicloud Environment” commissioned by Dell Technologies, VMWare and Intel Corporation, February 2020. Results are based on a survey of 1,257 IT decision makers from 11 countries and benchmarking consistent operations management across both public cloud and modern on-premises private cloud infrastructure. Actual results will vary. Read the full report here.