Security remains biggest obstacle as cloud hunger feeds hybrid-IT smorgasbord

Strong adoption of hybrid application models reflects corporations' growing appetites for change but security remains a serious concern in the infrastructure refresh, according to a new survey of Australian IT professionals in which only 1 in 3 respondents said they have enough skills and resources to manage the change.

Although 95 percent of the 163 Australian respondents to the latest SolarWinds IT Trends Report said cloud technologies are important to their long-term business success, only 53 percent believe their organisations will have migrated half or more of their IT infrastructure to the cloud within the next 3 to 5 years.

This hybrid approach is likely to continue indefinitely, with 61 percent saying it is unlikely that all of their infrastructure will be migrated to the cloud. Small businesses overwhelmingly saw cloud as a way to lessen responsibility for maintenance of underlying infrastructure – named as a key benefit by 84 percent of small businesses compared with 64 percent of enterprises.

Enterprises were most significantly interested in Infrastructure cost reduction – named as a key benefit by 74 percent of enterprises but just 53 percent of medium businesses. Medium businesses were particularly enthusiastic about cloud's ability to integrate new technologies and features across the entire application stack (47 percent compared with 32 percent of large businesses).

Security was the biggest challenge named as an obstacle to greater adoption, with 69 percent of all respondents arguing that security issues are the biggest barrier – ahead of the need to support legacy systems (63 percent) and the work required to move existing infrastructure (48 percent). “IT professionals are being asked to do more with less and to maintain security through all these complex changes,” SolarWinds head geek Kong Yang told CSO Australia.

“When you have changes from your service provider that you have to put into play, you have to understand how to ensure that a cloud provider's SLA will translate into acceptable quality of service for your business unit.” The survey also drew out clarification around the key skills needed to support the hybrid migration, with the top skills named as monitoring and management tools suitable for ensuring the security and operations of hybrid environments.

“In a hybrid IT world rife with new complexities, monitoring can no longer be an afterthought,” the report notes. “By establishing monitoring as a core IT function (a.k.a. monitoring as a discipline), organisations can benefit from a much more proactive IT management strategy, while also streamlining infrastructure performance, cost and security.”

As well as flagging the need to address security during hybrid adoption, the survey found strong interest in security-as-a-service (SECaaS) and testing-as-a-service offerings, with 16 percent of mid-sized businesses, 14 percent of small businesses and 10 percent of enterprises already utilising such services.

Around 31 percent of all businesses planned to embrace SECaaS, which has been gaining in popularity with demand that recently drove SECaaS provider Somerville/ISNet, for one, to bolster its offerings with “infinite” bandwidth to support customer demand. “The key is being able to pivot on any given technology,” Yang said, noting that executive support is crucial to making this happen.

“You have to be able to show your business and management teams what's happening so they support you and buy into your endeavours.” Yet lack of executive sponsorship remains a significant issue in many hybrid migrations: only 56 percent of respondents believe they have enough support from the organisational leadership, and the organisation as a whole, to develop the skills needed to better manage hybrid IT environments.

Interestingly, medium-sized organisations seemed to have the biggest issues in convincing business decision-makers of the benefit of the cloud – which was named by 59 percent of respondents from mid-sized businesses, compared with 41 percent of enterprises and just 40 percent of small businesses.

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