A recent report by CompTIA shows some surprising trends in the cloud services space as the industry progresses beyond the initial phase of deployment toward architectural transformation.
While most businesses are using cloud services — 90%, according to CompTIA — the pace of progress appears to be slowing and, in some cases, taking a step back. But a closer look at the numbers reveals that the real reason for the decline may not be actual usage regression, but rather a greater understanding of the technology. This includes recognizing “cloud washing” offerings, which attempt to pass off non-cloud products as the real thing to capitalize on the momentum of the cloud.
Previous versions of the CompTIA study discovered some confusion around cloud services, including that cloud washing was affecting perceptions of authentic cloud solutions. As the cloud has progressed, familiarity and savvy has increased as end users grow more aware of the ins and outs of the real cloud tools that are available.
The State of the Cloud
According to CompTIA, private clouds are seeing the highest adoption at 46%, followed by public cloud solutions at 28% and hybrid models at 26%. Software as a Service (SaaS) is the most popular cloud model at 74%, followed by Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) at 42% and Platform as a Service (PaaS) at 33%.
The CompTIA study found decreased usage in several cloud application categories ranging from business productivity to expense management. In total, usage rates in 12 of 14 categories showed a decline, including:
-63% of businesses reported using cloud productivity tools in 2014, but that dropped to 45% this year.
-In 2014 59% of businesses reported using cloud email services, compared with 51% this year.
-53% of businesses said they used a cloud analytics or business intelligence solution in 2014, while only 35% of businesses reported using such services this year.
Usage of cloud financial management solutions remained the same at 32%, and 31% of companies reported using cloud-based VoIP solutions in a category that was not studied in 2014 version.
The Reality Behind the Numbers
The firm also reported a corresponding increase in the number of companies saying they use an on-premise solution, as well as a higher level of confusion about the way certain applications are implemented. This suggests a greater understanding of the distinction between actual cloud solutions and cloud washing imposters.
This growing awareness perhaps explains the slip in the usage numbers. Usage may not actually be declining, but a greater awareness of what a true cloud service is and what it is not is leading to a more realistic and balanced usage picture.
Future of the Cloud
The overall cloud market remains strong, said the CompTIA report, relying on predictions published by Gartner, which expects the public cloud market to reach $204 billion in 2016. For 2017, Gartner predicts the cloud market will grow by 17.3%, followed by slower but still robust growth of 14.6% in 2018 as businesses reach later stages of their cloud deployments.
The overall IT market grows at about two to three percent each year, so cloud services will remain a high-growth segment for years to come.