Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Azure Gains in Multi-Cloud Shift, But Complexity Grows 


Microsoft Azure is benefitting most from the growing adoption of multiple cloud vendors, according to recent surveys of enterprise cloud managers.

Perhaps the most revealing is an Amazon Web Services (NASDAQ: AMZN) user report released this week that found 35 percent of those surveyed said their organization “actively uses” the Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) cloud along with AWS. Twenty-four percent of multi-cloud adopters said they combine Google Cloud Platform (NASDAQ: GOOGL) in combination with the AWS public cloud.

The AWS survey released Thursday (Jan. 24) by cloud analytics specialist Kentrik also found more multi-cloud than hybrid cloud users. Forty percent of those surveyed prefer the former, while only 33 percent said they are combining cloud with traditional infrastructure.

Teething issues like a cloud-skills gap also are emerging as the pace of multi-cloud adoption quickens, the Kentik survey found.

Other analyses confirm the growing multi-cloud shift to the Microsoft cloud. One notes that Azure is increasingly being used more often than AWS and Google for big data workloads. They also confirm the steady shift toward multi-cloud deployments, although one notes that hybrid deployments remain strong as sensitive workloads remain in-house despite a growing list of enterprise applications shifting to the cloud.

Source: Kentik

Other cloud vendors like hybrid cloud provider (IBM NYSE: IBM) assert that cloud adoption is poised to enter a “second chapter.” Enterprises are beginning to shift from migrating mundane business applications or simply renting infrastructure to moving mission-critical business apps to the cloud. IBM, which is in the process of acquiring open-source leader Red Hat (NYSE: RHT), estimates the next phase of cloud adoption includes about 80 percent of current enterprise workloads.

While the transition to various combinations of public and private clouds is well underway, the Kentik report notes the inevitable tradeoffs. “The rapid expansion of public cloud use, as well as multi-cloud, hybrid cloud and cloud-native environments, has created new challenges for visibility and cost control,” said Jim Frey, Kentik’s vice president of strategic alliances.

For example, the survey found that 30 percent of the more than 300 respondents cited cost management as the biggest headache, followed by cloud security. It stands to reason that using multiple cloud providers to increase availability while avoiding vendor lock-in brings with it a higher price tag.

Indeed, the more companies spend on cloud resources, the greater the likelihood those investments will be wasted on excess and therefore idle capacity along with the overprovisioning of infrastructure services, according to cloud optimization study released earlier this month.

The analysis by cloud resource management specialist ParkMyCloud estimates that enterprises will waste as much as $14.1 billion in cloud resources during 2019. The study noted that public cloud services remain on by default unless a user “specifically turn[s] it off” along with the lights at the end of the work day.

Meanwhile, the desire for greater visibility into cloud-based applications has spawned new monitoring tools ranging from log management and application performance to network performance monitoring and open-source tools.

For now, “technical teams struggle to establish and maintain visibility into what’s happening in their cloud environments,” the Kentik survey concluded. “Managing these issues will require new approaches, technology and products built for the cloud era.”

The added layers of complexity associated with the shift to multi-cloud deployments also is fueling unexpected skills gap related to cloud management. Kentik noted that a “surprising” 9 percent of respondents used an “Other” option in its list of survey questions to highlight the cloud skills gap.

“This data point highlights the complexity of cloud technology, and the labor shortage resulting from its rapid adoption,” the survey found. “The industry is responding with a growing ecosystem of cloud-focused education providers, as well as internal on-the-job training programs.”


About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 30 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as executive editor of Electronic Engineering Times. Leopold is the author of "Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom" (Purdue University Press, 2016).