Comprehensive survey of senior IT and business executives reveals predictions of increased adoption, faster deployment and security less of an obstacle
Mountain View, CA – We’ve long been moving toward cloud-based and virtualized infrastructures, but in some ways 2016 might just be the year in which the software-defined data center (SDDC) really becomes a fixture in corporate America. There will be increased adoption of this dynamic trend and faster deployment of the technologies and processes involved, leading to greater tangible benefits and a clear return on investment. In fact, there’s almost unanimous belief that optimal SDDC strategies and deployment can quantifiably drive up virtualization ratios and server optimization, thus noticeably benefiting the bottom line. All this because even though data breaches will surely happen, concerns over security and compliance will be far less an obstacle.
Those are some of the top-line findings of a new research initiative about the “Issues and Trends” related to the State of the Cloud and Software Defined Data Center (SDDC) in 2016. HyTrust, Inc. conducted the study, and, unlike many initiatives in this category, this research digs deep into the current thinking of high-ranking executives in corporations in the U.S. and UK. It builds on the views of more than 500 senior business and tech executives—60 percent director-level and above—leveraging the OnePoll service. In fact, 25 percent (or 125) are C-level business and tech executives (CEO, CFO, CIO, CTO, CISO/CSO) while another 25 percent are VP-level (VP, SVP, EVP) and 10 percent directors; the remaining 40 percent have perhaps the most intimate knowledge in this area and are split equally between IT Managers and Systems/Network Administrators and Engineers. More than 20 percent work for large enterprises (1,000+ employees) and the rest for mid-sized organizations or SMBs (250+ employees).
“This survey is truly interesting in that it uncovers a new level of maturity in organizations pursuing a SDDC leveraging virtualization and the cloud. It’s long been happening, but now faster and with greater conviction and comfort than perhaps ever before,” said Eric Chiu, president of HyTrust. “Security and privacy have always been the critical inhibitors, and no one denies that these issues still concern senior executives. But now we can also see that technologies like those offered by HyTrust, which balance a high level of security and control with smooth automation, are having a major impact. The benefits of virtualized and cloud infrastructures are undeniable—think agility, flexibility and lower cost, among many other advantages—and the obstacles to enjoying those benefits are increasingly being overcome.”
Looking at the big picture, the view is indeed positive: 65 percent of the respondents predict faster deployment in 2016, while 62 percent anticipate increased adoption. About 51 percent say they will see greater tangible benefits and a quantifiable ROI, such as enhanced efficiency, agility, flexibility and provisioning. Nearly half (49 percent) see greater adoption of network virtualization, while even more (53 percent) say the same about storage virtualization.
The view from the C-suite is particularly encouraging. Of the C-level executives surveyed, the predictions are:
- Increased adoption: 66 percent
- Faster deployment: 62 percent
- Greater tangible benefits: 49 percent
- Adoption for network virtualization: 48 percent
- More use of public cloud: 45 percent
Some aspects of virtualization and the cloud that have in the past received less attention now seem to getting on the front burner as well. While 50 percent anticipate greater use of the public cloud, a strong 38 percent predict adoption for workloads traversing hybrid clouds, and nearly as many, (38 percent) tout the hyper-converged infrastructure. And on a particularly optimistic note, 41 percent now expect better alignment of security strategies specifically to address SDDC.
SMBs or mid-sized organizations rank growing trends approximately 10 percent (or more) higher than large enterprises in the following areas: increased adoption (including for network virtualization), faster deployment and alignment of security strategies to address specific needs and requirements.
Security Finally Less of Obstacle
The issue of asset protection, not surprisingly, is more nuanced—many of the business and technology professionals surveyed harbor no illusions about the dangers involved, even as they voice more comfort with the overall environment. Most importantly, about 70 percent of those asked say they believe security will be less of an obstacle to greater SDDC adoption by the end of 2016. However, no one thinks the problem will go away: 25 percent say security will still be an obstacle, and more than half (54 percent) predict more breaches this year, whereas only 11 percent foresee less. Yet in a sign that awareness of potential solutions is rising, 21 percent say that there will be fewer breaches but only after corporations apply a strategic focus to the issue to address those requirements.
Perhaps not surprisingly (to insiders anyway), 71 percent expect to see more or about the same number of issues in the areas of internal compliance and auditing with cloud and SDDC deployments.
What might be most relevant in the area of security, however, is the apparent disconnect between high-ranking executives and those tasked with managing or engineering the network.
C-level executives expect to see:
- Security less of an obstacle: 74 percent (the highest of any category)
- More breaches: 54 percent
- Fewer breaches: 18 percent
- Fewer, but only after a strategic focus on security: 17 percent
Interestingly, despite some discrepancies, the responses here are roughly similar between C-level executives and those at the VP and Director level. Professionals at the manager level, however, seem to have some different views:
- Security less of an obstacle: 62 percent
- More breaches: 39 percent
- Fewer breaches: 10 percent
- Fewer, but only after a strategic focus on security: 33 percent
Perception v. Reality
Taking the nuances further, there’s clearly a perception problem. More than half the respondents (52 percent) identify the perception of inadequate security—along with the fear of lower security levels than are available in a physical data center—as the biggest security gap holding back SDDC deployment. Technology isn’t seen as an ideal answer just yet: 44 percent decry the lack of solutions from current vendors, the immaturity of vendors or new vendor offerings, or issues with cross-platform interoperability. While the numbers here are somewhat similar across the different groups, there are some interesting discrepancies.
For example, among C-level executives, the perception of inadequate security comes in at 37 percent; among system administrators, who presumably are most familiar with the technologies involved, it’s 54 percent.
The issue of perception also extends to overall concerns most likely to slow down migration to a software-defined data center.
- Data center outage: 56 percent find it “likely” or “most likely”
- Data breach/security risk: 67 percent find it the highest concern
- Compliance or audit failure: 58 percent find it “likely”’ or “most likely”
- Loss of operational efficiencies: 59 percent find it “likely” or “most likely”
- Lack of automation and orchestration: 58 percent find it “likely” or “most likely”
The #1 Concern
Despite the mainly sunny prognostications, there’s no lack of denial regarding ongoing concerns. When asked to identify the No.1 issue that that keeps organizations from virtualizing all applications, including those seen as mission-critical, security concerns rank first at 45.6 percent. Budget restraints come second, but far behind at 20 percent, while performance concerns at register with 15.4 percent. Other worries go all over the map—operational or process challenges, architectural constraints and even a lack of understanding by management regarding the potential benefits. For the record, SMBs are twice as concerned about security as large enterprises (50 percent), who view security (30 percent) and performance (30 percent) with equal concern.
There’s also an interesting disparity in answers here based on job title, and it offers a revealing look at corporate priorities. For example, fully 60 percent of those in the IT Systems Administrator/Engineer category cite security as their top concern. Executives at the VP/EVP/SVP level are somewhat similar, with 51.2 percent agreeing. Among those in the C-suite, meanwhile, security gets the nod from only 36 percent, not far above budget restraints at 28 percent. Curiously, this distinction is even sharper in the Director category—budget officially takes the top spot at 30 percent.
The Path Forward
So what will take for this technology paradigm to move forward even faster?
Effective automation—reducing the need for manual processes while ensuring top-tier security—is widely seen as being important to large-scale deployment of SDDC strategies and technologies. A staggering 90 percent of the respondents agree with that premise; the numbers are almost unanimous across all groups, but certainly no group understands this as deeply as IT Systems Admins and Engineers (93 percent).
The answers are also almost identical when respondents are asked about enforcing consistent policies aligned to meet compliance, security and business needs in a hybrid cloud deployment. Somewhere between 91 percent and 97 percent of all business and technology professionals (and 94 percent overall) either agree or strongly agree with the premise. That marks a potential shift from concerns that might have been voiced just a few years ago.
For more information about Issues & Trends: The State of the Cloud and Software-Defined Data Center, please visit http://www.hytrust.com/cloud-sddc-study/, where you may obtain a copy of the study infographic, as well as a free white paper and additional resources.
HyTrust’s mission is to make private, public and hybrid cloud infrastructure more trustworthy for enterprises, service providers and government agencies. HyTrust provides solutions that automate security controls for software-defined computing, networking and storage workloads to achieve the highest levels of visibility, granular policy control and data protection. Areas of focus include the automation of security controls for infrastructure management, workload encryption and key management, infrastructure integrity checking and global workload placement and migration.
HyTrust customers benefit from being able to accelerate cloud and virtualization cost savings while improving their security posture by automating and enforcing security policy in real time, adapting quickly to compliance requirements, and preventing unplanned outages.
Headquartered in Mountain View, CA, HyTrust is backed by the leading providers of strategic IT infrastructure including VMware, Cisco and Fortinet; by the vanguard of innovative solutions for the intelligence community, In-Q-Tel; and by a world-class group of financial investors including AIT Ventures, Granite Ventures, Trident Capital and Vanedge Capital.
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