Cloud User Survey: Operational Concerns Dominate
This week, the results of research Ixia sponsored on the experiences and concerns of cloud users were released. Understanding their concerns is becoming more important as cloud matures from a disruptive technology to an acceptable and common approach to delivering digital content and services.
Dimensional Research reached out to cloud and security professionals worldwide. A total of 353 professionals completed the survey, representing a good cross-section of company size and industry. Respondents were qualified if their organizations had at least some experience with cloud computing.
Cloud is Now Center Stage. The first key finding is how common cloud has become as the foundation for running applications and services in full production. Eighty percent (80%) of respondents now use public clouds for production workloads and eighty-nine percent (89%) use private clouds. I remember five years ago, a lot industry watchers bemoaned the immaturity, risk, and complexity of cloud platforms for running enterprise applications. However, even public cloud has become the de facto standard for delivery of innovative new services that require flexible and scalable architecture. Eighty-two percent (82%) of respondents increased their use of public cloud in the last year, with 35% indicating the increase was significant. (See graph below.)
Operational Concerns Increase. Either because of the evolution to more flexible platforms or through actual application migration, most companies are now operating clouds as a fundamental part of their infrastructure. The second key finding is that ‘securing data and applications’ is the top concern among cloud adopters, followed by ‘satisfying compliance.’ Not unexpectedly, the concern about maintaining security is more prevalent among public cloud users (93%) than among private cloud users (82%). Respondents also continued to worry about having enough cloud expertise on staff.
Public Clouds Limit Data Access. When processing moves to the public cloud, the underlying infrastructure is no longer accessible and data monitoring is not as straight-forward as in the data center. With infrastructure on-premises, data packets are intercepted or copied and sent to security appliances which filter out suspicious traffic and to monitoring tools which analyze performance data to help resolve bottlenecks and outages. Strong security and performance management depends on data packets. This is the new frontier for cloud adopters: implementing a cloud visibility platform that can provide access to data in the cloud. Sixty percent (60%) of respondents found gaining visibility into public clouds more challenging and 40% are dissatisfied with their current security and performance monitoring solutions.
Lack of Visibility into Clouds Has Impact. With less visibility to the traffic impacting their business, it is not surprising that 88% of respondents suffered a negative outcome from not having full visibility to their public clouds. Outcomes varied from delay in detecting or resolving a security attack to experiencing an application or network outage. (See graph below.) Of those that experienced an outage, 87% reported the outage lasted an hour or more.
Users Can Benefit from Cloud-Native Visibility. The survey also asked adopters about their cloud monitoring needs. Nearly all respondents, at 99%, said scalability is key. For that reason, users should be looking at cloud-native visibility platforms that provide unlimited and automatic scalability. In contrast, visibility solutions that must transmit cloud data to a central visibility engine are limited by the size of that engine and scalability will depend on upgrading the engine. Another benefit of cloud-native architecture is that data collection and filtering can be done right in the public cloud and delivered directly and quickly to cloud-based monitoring tools. This could be a key benefit to the 77% of respondents that currently monitor in the public cloud or those with hybrid environments.
Cloud adopters need to implement cloud visibility platforms to avoid and mitigate security risks and optimize performance of cloud apps and servics. No platform—whether in the data center or in the cloud—is completely safe, but ensuring all cloud traffic is inspected and monitored is your best defense against application disruption or security breaches.