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on 29 January 2015

Ubuntu Server and Cloud Survey reveals hybrid cloud, SDN and IoT on the rise

Canonical ran its sixth annual Ubuntu Server and Cloud Survey at the end of 2014. The survey aims to provide an overview of the enterprise cloud market, including emerging and changing trends, current challenges and technology preferences. It also tracks the adoption of OpenStack and Ubuntu as well as public cloud usage.

This year, the survey was completed by over 3000 CIOs, managers, software developers, engineers and others from a wide range of organisations in different sectors. The respondents were mostly Ubuntu server and cloud users, who represent a majority of public cloud users, and are the largest group of OpenStack users. In the survey they revealed what their infrastructure looks like, how it’s being managed and what it’s being used for. Here is a summary of the findings (also see our infographic below and our SlideShare here).

Over recent years, the Ubuntu Server and Cloud Survey has shown rapidly increasing adoption of cloud computing among enterprises, growing trust in cloud environments and a shift from use for mostly development and testing to more production-grade workloads. Last year, the survey revealed more mission-critical workloads were being deployed in the cloud with Ubuntu OpenStack being the preferred platform to do so.

This year, the pattern is continuing and cloud adoption remains heavily weighted to private clouds (35%). The most popular platform for private cloud is OpenStack, used by 53% of those respondents who have deployed a private cloud infrastructure. Interestingly, hybrid clouds are on the rise at 20%, up from 15% last year. Today, hybrid cloud is almost as popular as public cloud (used by 23%) a clear shift from last year, when public cloud was at 27%. It’s interesting that recent price cuts by major public cloud providers don’t seem to have had a major impact on public cloud adoption, which could imply that the drivers behind the choice of infrastructure are more than economic.

Hybrid is clearly an appealing strategy for enterprises because it offers the balance of economic and technical benefits of the public cloud with the control and security of a private cloud. GigaOm Research comments; “most enterprises are moving toward hybrid and multi-cloud computing. In some cases there is a clear business case. At other times it just seems like hybrid is the approach that gives an enterprise the most options and the most control.”

It could also be said that the trend to hybrid is indicative of public clouds not fully addressing security and compliance issues that enterprises have when thinking about moving their critical workloads to the cloud. Certainly, the Ubuntu Cloud Survey highlights security and privacy as major barriers to cloud adoption (34%). It is perhaps also why the survey revealed the more open, flexible and secure public cloud platforms are gaining traction; the most popular platforms among respondents are Google Cloud (30%) and other (33%).

Whichever model an organisation adopts, there is a continued shift to running more mission-critical functions in the cloud, even within OpenStack. More than 75% are deploying workloads like big data, analytics, CRM, scientific apps and virtualisation to a cloud environment. This has grown from 64% last year. Two thirds of OpenStack users are deploying mission-critical functions to it, while nearly half are deploying infrastructure and virtualised environments.

Cloud computing is central to delivering the newest technology trends too. Gartner says cloud computing, the Internet of Things and software defined infrastructure are among the top 10 trends of 2015. Indeed, the survey reveals the three major trends driving cloud adoption to be: connected devices / Internet of Things (33%), growing data volumes and the software defined data centre (26% each). Massive Internet enterprises and billions of connected devices are generating more data than ever, necessitating the use of increasingly scalable and flexible storage and compute platforms to store and process this data. Also, the scalability of cloud platforms lends itself to SDN (software defined networks) because it’s easy to scale and reconfigure.

One of the hottest technologies of 2014, Docker, was a massive winner among developers. Yet, the survey revealed that as a relatively new kid on the block, Docker is still in early adoption phases within the enterprise with most deployments being used for development and testing. Docker has opened a great new opportunity for different types of container-based technologies and would expect that ecosystem to grow in size and reliability over the next year or so.

There’s no doubt the cloud ecosystem is getting more and more crowded and indeed exciting. The trends mean there is a need for interoperability of the systems and infrastructure components as well as various types of hardware and software. This enables organisations to build the clouds they want with flexibility to swap components as needed. As SDN, NFV and containers emerge as important use cases for the cloud, cloud usage will become cheaper and enterprises will make ever more use of this infrastructure. What remains to be seen is if any vendor can develop a robust and flexible hybrid cloud solution that lives up to the promise of combining control, security and elasticity that enterprises demand. Otherwise, the battle between private and public cloud will continue.


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