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      Survey: The Top Challenges Facing IT Departments in 2020


      There will be no shortage of strategic challenges confronting IT leaders and infrastructure managers in 2020, but one issue rises above the pack: Migrating applications to the cloud. That’s according to new survey data published this week by INAP at Gartner’s IT Infrastructure, Operations and Cloud Strategies Conference in Las Vegas.

      This is the second year INAP asked 500 IT professionals with cloud, server or data center management responsibilities to select their top three challenges from a list of perennial issues.

      The results showcase a reshuffling of the leading challenges, with cloud migrations supplanting 2019’s No. 1 answer—“protecting the organization from cyberattacks”—for the top spot in 2020. Take a look at the full list here and read on for analysis and commentary from INAP experts.

      Top Challenges
      Click to view full-size image.

      “Migrating applications to the cloud” sits six points above the rest of the list, and “adopting and/or managing a multicloud strategy” will be a top challenge for 28 percent, tying for third. A simple look at market trends may explain why, according to Jennifer Curry, senior vice president of Global Cloud Services at INAP.

      Overcoming Cloud Adoption Challenges

      “We shouldn’t be surprised by the survey given the current forecasts around growth in the public cloud services market and infrastructure as a service spending,” said Curry, pointing to 12.6 percent CAGR and 27.5 percent CAGR in those respective areas between 2018-2022. “Cloud and IaaS are becoming easier to consume with container-based solutions and more applications that are born in the cloud or are cloud-ready. This also makes it easier to put your workloads in the environment where they work best – businesses don’t have to subscribe to an all-in or all-out strategy.”

      But that doesn’t mean making the journey to the cloud is without its hurdles.

      “Cost overruns are the biggest consequences of migrations gone awry,” said Curry. “Delays caused by application performance issues, downtime caused by botched migrations, unexpected security and compliance issues—all of these issues cost money.”

      Once new cloud environments come online, the work is far from over, as each need to be monitored and optimized on an ongoing basis. The key to overcoming all of these challenges is a mix of people and prep work, according Curry.

      “Ensure you have all the right skills inside of your organization or the right third-party partners to get the most value out of your multicloud strategy,” she said. “It’s also critical to understand where all of your workloads belong and what your true goals are. Is it to move everything off premise in a lift and shift, or is the real goal to optimize and transform with a combination of IaaS, PaaS and SaaS? Being able to define the business value is key to designing the multicloud environment.”

      Cybersecurity Challenges Still Paramount

      Although it dropped five points from last year’s poll, protecting against cyberattacks is the only other challenge selected by greater than 30 percent of IT leaders and infrastructure managers.

      “Cyber attacks are no longer just system or nuisance attacks,” said Jeff Atkinson, Chief Information Officer of INAP. “They’ve gotten much more sophisticated and, in some ways, easier for perpetrators to conduct. This has opened up a much larger world of potential threats and targets—putting organizations of all shapes and sizes in the crosshairs. Given that almost all industries are reliant on some form of digital footprint, it has to be a primary concern to the business and by extension, IT.”

      Most IT Pros Agree Budget Shouldn’t Be an Issue in 2020

      Budget or headcount constraints is a challenge for 24 percent of IT pros, dropping slightly from 26 percent last year. Separately, respondents were asked to agree or disagree with the following statement:

      IT Budget

      Despite a strong majority agreeing that IT budgets will be in a good spot for 2020, the confidence waned slightly for non-senior leaders. Of this group, 1 in 4 disagreed with the statement and only 14% strongly feel their budget will be optimal.  

      Biggest Movers: Skills Shortage Concerns Mount; Disaster Recovery Challenges Wane

      The biggest movers in this year’s list of challenges are “skills shortages hindering key initiatives” (+7) and “adopting and/or implementing a disaster recovery or business continuity strategy” (-7).

      While disaster recovery may simply be less of roadblock as more economically viable and cloud-enabled replication solutions gain popularity, skills shortages in specialty areas may be an issue to watch due to the growing scope of the IT function, according to Atkinson.

      “Every company has some need for IT talent and thus are all competing for the same people,” he said. “This challenge is increased if the skills needed are specialized. Because of this, the IT industry will continue to move to outsourced solutions, allowing companies to put more toward attracting and retaining the specialized talent needed.”

      About the Data

      The data reflected in this report was derived from a survey of 508 IT professionals with data center, server and cloud infrastructure responsibilities who work at businesses and enterprises in the United States and Canada with greater than 100 employees. The survey, commissioned by INAP and facilitated by Precision Sample, was conducted in October 2019. The margin of error is ±5 percent at the 90 percent confidence level.

      Ryan Hunt
      • Director of Content & Communications


      Ryan Hunt is the Director of Content & Communications. READ MORE



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      New Survey Reveals the Big 4 Reasons Behind Cloud Migrations and the Off-Premise Exodus


      Organizations continue to migrate their IT infrastructure off-premise, and this trend is not slowing down any time soon. INAP’s 2019 State of IT Infrastructure Management survey, released in November, revealed that nearly 9 in 10 organizations (88 percent) will be migrating at least some workloads off-premise in the next three years.

      This already high percentage jumps to an even greater level when only looking at organizations that already have remote environments. Ninety-six percent of this group plans to move more workloads off-prem in the near future.

      For this second annual survey, participants—500 IT leaders and infrastructure managers—were asked why they are moving workloads off-prem, and where those workloads are going. The results indicate four big reasons for moving off-prem, as well as the share of companies migrating workloads to cloud, colo and bare metal.

      If you haven’t checked out the survey report yet, read up on it here, or download the full report below.

      Why Companies are Moving Off-Premise

      Big 4

      The data above compares the 2018 and 2019 results of the survey. The clear top four reasons for 2019—network, scalability, resiliency and security—make a compelling case for why the demise of the on-premise data center is perhaps inevitable within the next decade. Let’s explore this year’s top reasons in greater depth.

      Improve Network Performance

      Jumping up six points from 2018, where it ranked No. 3 overall, network performance has claimed the No. 1 spot for reasons to move off-premise. Ultra-low latency and high availability is critically important to end users (think multi-player gamers, streaming customers, Ad Tech and financial service consumers, etc.) and can make the difference between retaining customers or losing them to a competitor. Additionally, conversations around the importance of Edge Computing and Edge Networking strategies continue to grow in prominence, meaning network performance will only grow more important.

      Accomplishing both low latency and high availability requires not only more bandwidth, but better infrastructure to serve end users at the edge. Alternatively, organizations can take advantage of network route optimization technologies to ensure traffic is always sent along the lowest-latency path.

      Whichever path an organization chooses to take, it’s clear that traditional on-premise data centers are increasingly incapable of delivering the performance today’s digital economy demands. To truly compete in the current and future tech landscape, strong network performance is a requirement, not a necessity.

      Application Scalability and Resiliency

      The No. 2 (scalability) and No. 3 (resiliency) reasons are both essential components of running workloads and applications in the digital economy. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) solutions deliver these attributes via on-demand deployment, and colocation data centers deliver them via greater space and power capacity, each offering companies the ability to add resources easier and more efficiently than they can with the average on-premise facility.

      Additionally, any quality off-premise solution will include component and utility redundancy, enabling up-time of 99.999 percent annually. A single point of failure, whether it’s related to electrical, power or cooling, for example, will not disrupt your service in a Tier 3 data center run and maintained by a reliable partner.

      Infrastructure and Data Center Security

      Cyberattacks continue to grow in sophistication and frequency. Earlier this year, we rounded up sobering statistics on the state of cybersecurity. Did you know that it takes an organization 34 days on average to patch for critical common vulnerabilities and exposures? And did you also know that a successful phishing attempt will cost small or medium business $1.6 million on average? It’s no wonder security ranked No. 4 as a reason to move off-premise.

      As information security initiatives attract more attention from the C-suite, in-house IT infrastructure and operations leaders will continue to view on-premise facilities as a vulnerability. The levels of physical and network security offered by leading cloud and data center providers goes above and beyond what an on-premise operation can achieve. The security and compliance-ready attributes of Tier 3 data center facilities instantly tick several “best-practice” boxes, giving IT pros and the C-suite alike peace of mind, not to mention assurance that their infrastructure will be ready to stand up to future threats.

      Additionally, more companies are choosing to offload the day-to-day management of common security functions like monitoring, log management and patch management. For instance, a fully managed hosted private cloud offers the scalability and security that organizations are looking for and allows them to work with a trusted partner to deploy the best-fit solution for applications and workloads.

      The Future of IT Infrastructure is Hybrid

      Now that we understand why organizations are headed off-prem, let’s explore where they are moving. We asked survey participants to choose from non-Software as a Service (SaaS) and non-Platform as a Service (PaaS) environments, including hosted private cloud, hyperscale public cloud, colocation data center and hosted bare metal or dedicated servers. The participants were able to select all options that applied.

      Hybrid IT

      Based on the results, we learned that it’s not a uniform journey to the major hyperscale cloud providers. Organizations plan to spread workloads across a variety of different environments, including colocation and hosted private clouds, with the later just outpacing the hyperscalers at 77 percent.

      Between colocation and the different types of clouds, organizations have plenty of choice when it comes to their off-premise infrastructure, and there is no one-size-fits-all best solution. In this hybrid era of IT, it will be important for organizations to evaluate their infrastructure strategies for to ensure that their chosen solutions (cloud, colo, etc.) are best meeting workload requirements.

      “All of that infrastructure spread out across multiple data centers and clouds needs to be centrally managed, monitored and secured with efficiency,” says Jennifer Curry, INAP’s SVP, Global Cloud Services in TechRepublic’s coverage of the report. “This is no easy feat, so my recommendation would be to seek out partners who understand how to design performance-driven architectures and partners who can provide you the flexibility and support required to give your teams the peace of mind and the ability to focus on what matters most.”

      The Off-Premise Acceleration

      Just how fast will the on-premise data center exodus be? Respondents were asked to anticipate the percentage share of on-premise workloads now and three years from now in our latest survey. Overall, IT pros expect a 38 percent reduction in on-premise workloads by 2022. While there are myriad reasons to move away from on-prem infrastructures, the “Big 4” reasons present a compelling case for this migration.

      Laura Vietmeyer


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      Survey: How Do IT Leaders Grade Their Data Center and Cloud Infrastructure Strategies?


      We’re still merely entering the hybrid and multicloud era of information technology, but according to new survey research from INAP, the transformation is about to hit warp speed, a trend we see continuing in our latest survey. Nearly 9 in 10 organizations with on-premise data centers plan to move at least some of their workloads off-premise into cloud, managed hosting or colocation in the next three years.

      As more companies diversify their infrastructure mix, how confident are IT leaders and managers that they’re taking the right approach?

      For INAP’s second annual installment of the State of IT Infrastructure Management survey, we asked 500 IT leaders and infrastructure managers to assess their data center and cloud strategies, assign a letter grade and give us their thoughts on why they chose a particular rating.

      How do the grades stack up among participants? What factors are most closely associated with A-grade infrastructures? And why do some infrastructure strategies fall short?

      Making the Grade in the Hybrid IT and Multicloud Era

      Grades

      Instead of the classic bell curve so many of us were subject to during our years in academia, most of the IT infrastructure management professionals say their infrastructure strategy deserves an above average grade, with the majority—56.3 percent of respondents—giving their infrastructures a B. Roughly 19 percent think they deserve a C or below. While the results can be read as a vote of confidence for multiplatform, hybrid cloud and multicloud strategies, most respondents say there’s still plenty room for improvement: Only 1 in 4 participants (25.2 percent) gave their infrastructure strategies an A.

      Factors Most Associated with A-Grade Infrastructure

      Still, it’s worth asking: What factors distinguish A’s from the rest of the crowd?

      Four groups in the data, regardless of company size, industry and headcount, are strongly correlated with high marks:

      Off-Premise Migrators

      A’s have a significantly smaller portion of their workloads on-premise (30 percent of workloads, on average) compared to C’s and below (45 percent).

      Colocation Customers

      Thirty-one percent of IT pros who have colocation as part of their infrastructure mix give themselves an A. This is six points higher than the total population.

      Cloud Diversifiers

      For companies already in the cloud, those who only host with public cloud platforms (AWS, Azure, Google) are less likely to give themselves A’s than those who adopt multicloud platform strategies—18 percent vs. 29 percent, respectively.

      Managed Services Super Users

      The more companies rely on third parties or cloud providers to fully manage their hosted environments (up to the application layer), the more likely they are to assign their infrastructure strategy an A. The average share of workloads fully managed: A’s (71 percent), B’s (62 percent), C’s (54 percent).

      Why Some IT Infrastructures Strategies Fall Short

      Click to view full-size image.

      From the above results, no single explanation for why strategies did not earn top marks were selected by a fewer than a fifth of respondents, but two clearly lead the pack:

      • Infrastructure not fully optimized for applications
      • Too much time managing and maintaining the infrastructure

      The first leading factor speaks to a simultaneous benefit and challenge of the multicloud and hybrid IT era. It’s more economical than ever to find a mix of infrastructure solutions that match the needs of individual workloads and applications. The flip side to that benefit is the simple fact that adopting new platforms can quickly lead to environment sprawl and raise the complexity of the overall strategy—making the goal of application optimization a tougher bar to clear.

      The second leading factor—improper time allocation—underscores a central theme of IT infrastructure management that will be discussed in greater depth in a future blog.

      Senior Leaders vs. Non-Senior IT Pros

      As previously noted, only 1 in 4 participants gave their infrastructure strategies an A. That number falls to 1 in 8 (12.6 percent) if we remove senior IT leaders from the mix. Non-senior infrastructure managers are also two times more likely to grade their infrastructure strategy a C. In other areas of the State of IT Infrastructure Management survey, senior leaders generally held a more optimistic outlook, and the infrastructure grades were no exception.

      Why might this be? We can only speculate, but senior leaders may be loath to give a low grade to a strategy they had a large part in shaping. Or perhaps it’s that non-senior leaders deal with more of the day-to-day tasks associated with infrastructure upkeep and don’t feel as positive about the strategy. Whatever the reason, these two groups are not seeing eye to eye.

      Strategizing to Earn the A-Grade

      When considering solutions—be it cloud, colocation and/or managed services—a lesson or two can be taken from those A-grade infrastructure strategies, and maybe from the C’s and below, as well.

      If you’re ready to level-up your strategy, but unsure where to start, INAP can help. We offer high-performance data center, cloud, network and managed services solutions that will earn your infrastructure strategy an A+.

      Laura Vietmeyer


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