Riverbed: Public Cloud Usage Growing, but Reliability a Concern

By Jeffrey Burt  |  Print this article Print

A survey by Riverbed at the AWS re:Invent show found that 96 percent are at least considering using a public cloud.

Businesses are increasingly turning to public clouds such as Amazon Web Services and Rackspace, and that usage will only go up, according to WAN-optimization specialist Riverbed Technology.

During the AWS re:Invent cloud computing show earlier this month, Riverbed commissioned a survey of attendees to get a gauge of their use of infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and their concerns about the technology. What the survey of 122 participants found was that 96 percent of them were either using or were talking about using public clouds for some workloads, and that 53 percent had put at least one app into an IaaS environment.

Of those who haven't yet leveraged a public cloud, 83 percent said they expect to deploy at least one app within the next six months.

Given that the venue was a conference for Amazon Web Services {AWS), such high numbers shouldn't be surprising, according to Dormain Drewitz, senior solutions marketing manager at Riverbed.

"Since this survey was at AWS re:Invent, I think it’s fair to say that the audience is more cloud-friendly and cloud-experienced than the mainstream," Drewitz wrote in a post on the Riverbed blog, noting that 80 percent of respondents said they had deployed their first app to an IaaS cloud more than a year ago. "But that only means that their experiences are an indication of things to come."

IDC analysts are expecting significant growth in the increasingly competitive public cloud arena. In September, they said that worldwide spending on public IT cloud services will grow from $47.4 billion this year to more than $107 billion in 2017, and that during that period, the market will grow five times faster than the IT industry as a whole. By 2017, public IT cloud services will drive 17 percent of all IT product spending, the analysts said. Software as a service (SaaS) will remain the largest public IT cloud services category, with platform as a service (PaaS) and IaaS as the fastest growing services.

The United States will remain the largest market for public clouds, according to IDC.

"The first wave of cloud-services adoption was focused on improving the efficiency of the IT department," Frank Gens, senior vice president and chief analyst at IDC, said in a statement. "Over the next several years, the primary driver for cloud adoption will shift from economics to innovation as leading-edge companies invest in cloud services as the foundation for new competitive offerings. The emergence of cloud as the core for new 'business-as-a-service' offerings will accelerate cloud adoption and dramatically raise the cloud model's strategic value beyond CIOs to CXOs of all types."

Riverbed's Drewitz noted that in her company's survey, 69 percent said they are likely to deploy or already have deployed business-critical applications into an IaaS cloud. The top concern among those surveyed was reliability (90 percent), followed by performance, security and costs.

"The stakes are much higher for business-critical apps when it comes to performance and reliability," she wrote, pointing to reliability being the top concern. "This is natural as cloud usage shifts to more business-critical and other production applications."

The top use of public clouds was for test-and-development work, followed by public-facing Websites or Web applications and non-critical business applications.

While reliability was the top concern, only one-third—32 percent—worried about not having enough expertise to deploy apps in a public cloud. That also caught Drewitz's attention.

"It suggests that skills have caught up to trend," she wrote, noting that companies were sending IT managers and workers to shows like AWS re:invent to learn about cloud computing. "The diminishment of ‘lack of expertise’ as a concern and clear investment in deepening IaaS skills across IT should be good news to cloud vendors and enterprises alike. Overcoming the skills barrier is a necessary precursor to wider IaaS adoption for production and business-critical apps."

The top goals for using public clouds are scaling compute capabilities, reducing the amount of time it takes to deploy an application, saving money and improving availability. Drewitz said there are a number of steps businesses need to take when getting into the cloud, including getting as many teams—from network to security to applications—involved as possible, and gaining a clear understanding of the challenges involved, such as those around volume and latency.

Finally, IT administrators should map applications dependencies—including between cloud, third-party and on-premises components—to better understand which cloud services their applications rely on, she wrote.

Originally published on www.eweek.com.