UKCloud, the multi-cloud experts dedicated to making transformation happen across UK public sector, have announced the results of a survey of more than 300 senior IT professionals and business leaders that reveals the key challenges and issues that are affecting cloud adoption.
The UK Government adopted a Cloud First policy in 2013 which signalled a significant shift from traditional IT solutions to more agile, scalable and cost-effective cloud solutions that enable the broader digital transformation agenda. But while there has been some successful use of cloud, the majority of public sector IT has not yet made the shift. Last year, Crown Commercial Service (CCS) and the Government Digital Service (GDS) commenced a review of the Cloud First policy, whilst organisations such as NHSX and Defence Digital were formed to address specific challenges of harnessing innovative technologies to drive better public services.
Alex Hilton, Chief Executive at the Cloud Industry Forum, said: “We have been monitoring the adoption of cloud-based services across the UK for the past ten years. We have seen unprecedented change take place in that time, with many companies now realising the potential of cloud services helping them fulfil their digital transformation goals. These journeys may have started a long time ago, but they are far from over: rapidly evolving business challenges mean that diversity and collaboration are necessary to move forward. A cloud led strategy must be at the heart of any digital transformation.”
Finding #1: Organisations are cloud keen and want to focus on outcomes
The results of the survey confirm that there is almost a universal desire to shift from traditional IT environments to cloud solutions. 87.2% of those surveyed stated that they would do this if a ‘perfect solution’ existed. These results were reflected at all levels, across business and technical respondents – and 82% of respondents agreed that the senior leadership in their organisation “understands and values progressive technology”. Yet, the survey also found that more than three-quarters cited “lack of clear policy/strategy” as a factor impeding cloud adoption which supports the policy review that CCS and GDS have undertaken, as the survey also revealed more focus is needed on the technical and non-technical challenges of modernising existing technology not just building new cloud native applications.
Finding #2: Significant concern about commercial risks of single provider solutions
There is a lot of focus on the technical challenges of adopting cloud, but one of the key revelations from the survey was the extent of concern of the commercial risks of cloud adoption. 78% of respondents expressed a fear of vendor lock-in and a similar number agreed that the risk of “over reliance on a sole provider” is inhibiting their cloud adoption. More than 85% agreed that they would prefer multi-cloud, presumably as a means to mitigate these commercial risks. These concerns aren’t exclusive to the UK, last year Angela Merkel spoke of Gaia-X to help the EU avoid becoming over-reliant on US based cloud providers.
Finding #3: Operational and security risks constrain wholesale adoption of public cloud
Another aspect of risk that came through the survey results is related to security and operational risks to live systems. 85.2% of those surveyed believe that their organisation is reluctant to move workloads to the cloud due to risk and security concerns. As recently reported by the National Cyber Security Centre, a significant number of cyberattacks are from hostile nation states and the survey results imply that many organisations are concerned that traditional applications are inherently not ready for these emerging threats. Hence, there remains a significant minority that still will not consider public cloud for their most secure and sensitive systems and 40% also ruled out public cloud for systems that they need to run on-premises or in Crown Hosting. This could imply that organisations feel constrained by the hyperscale model of public cloud – whereas a multi-cloud strategy would enable them to consider a variety of cloud offerings (including private cloud and secure cloud) that have been specifically designed for these more sensitive and critical environments.
Finding #4: Disproportionate focus on cloud native skills and capabilities
The fourth finding is generally well publicised. 78.3% of respondents confirmed they lacked the skills and resources, such as DevOps and automation, to build and operate cloud-native applications in what Gartner refers to as bimodal capability. Whilst this is necessary to get the best out of hyperscale platforms, multi-cloud enables organisations to carry forward their existing skills in established technologies like VMware, Red Hat and Cisco which remain relevant for longer. And secondly, multi-cloud enables organisations to consider buying specialist SaaS solutions rather than building their own cloud native applications – tapping into the skills and capabilities of innovative software companies.
Finding #5: Clear need for more commercial control and flexibility
Last, but by no means least, are the findings around the affordability and budgeting challenges that some public sector organisations are experiencing. 84.5% of respondents agree that cost/affordability is the biggest impediment to cloud adoption, with almost 80% agreeing that “fear of runaway costs” is a notable hindrance. This supports the concept of ‘cloud repatriation’, where organisations bring unsuited workloads back from the public cloud and demand for tools like VMware CloudHealth which helps organisations better understand the costs they are incurring in the public cloud. Moreover, 82.57% of those surveyed also cited the misalignment of CAPEX and OPEX budgets as an impediment of cloud adoption. Public cloud services by their nature are only suited to OPEX budgets. Multi-cloud expands these options so that customers can chose to mix dedicated environments with shared environments so that they can make best use of both their CAPEX and OPEX budgets.
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