Three’s a crowd: are UK businesses suffering from ‘cloud sprawl’?

UK businesses are dealing with increasingly complicated cloud environments as they mix and match different brands and contracts to get the best value for money and spread the risk of data loss. Alongside this, new automation tools and open source technologies are helping to tame the hodge podge of clouds.

But while new research from Australian telco giant Telstra reveals that the majority of UK IT leaders have offerings from at least three different providers, the researchers are warning that that it might not be the best strategy for business agility after all. Surprisingly, two-thirds of businesses actually want to purchase all their cloud services from a single provider.

> See also: Automation is key to multi-cloud infrastructure monitoring

According to Martin Bishop, head of Network, Applications & Services, Telstra Global Enterprise & Services, with consumers in the UK more in control of their purchasing power than ever before, a flexible and scalable cloud infrastructure has become increasingly critical to an organisations’ success or failure.

‘We are living in a buyers’ market and our research suggests that in an effort to satisfy diverse customer expectations, many UK businesses initially turn to multiple cloud vendors to meet their various infrastructure needs,’ says Bishop. ‘The result can be a complex cloud environment that is hard for the business to manage, integrate and control.’

But the research also reveals that pooling resources into a single private cloud isn’t the ideal end-state either. The majority of IT decision makers are arguing this model fails to deliver the flexibility required for the varying types of processes, services and workloads that global companies must support.

‘In a move away from the private clouds of yesterday, the trend in 2015 appears to be towards a hybrid approach, delivered by a single partner, fully accountable for an organisations cloud services end-to-end. In fact, our research shows that 67% of IT decision makers in the UK would prefer a single provider or broker for all cloud services, then go through the challenge of managing multiple vendors,’ said Bishop.

According to Telstra’s research, the flexibility and scalability associated with a hybrid cloud are what local IT leaders consider the most appealing benefits of this model. 

‘The market has shifted and customers now have the power to do what they want, when they want and how they want. Technology is clearly at the centre of this enablement and organisations that can align the power of hybrid cloud with customer demands are well placed to create what we’re terming the Customer Centric Cloud – enabling more agile development and testing of applications, faster decision making and overall, an enhanced customer experience.’

Telstra’s research revealed that while four out of ten UK enterprises have adopted IaaS – with 41% planning to adopt it in the near future – cloud providers can do more to guide businesses on their IaaS migrations.  

‘Organisations that do not use IaaS could be falling behind their competitors – leaving themselves exposed to inefficiencies, high costs and without the ability to fully utilise critical information and data. Each of these issues is not just important from an IT perspective, but also has significant implications for the wider business and the end customers,’ said Bishop.

> See also: Hybrid cloud, open source lead the cloud pack

Adoption of IaaS also varies widely by industry, with 61% of manufacturing firms, 54% of professional services, and 46% of the finance and insurance sectors most likely to be using the technology. Conversely, the higher education sector has been ladding behind, with more than a quarter (27%) having no implementation plans at this stage.

As businesses look to expand outside the UK to new and emerging markets throughout Asia and around the world, Telstra’s research found 38% of respondents would opt to use a global rather than local service provider, with only 19% preferring this option.

‘Across all industries, competition is both fierce and increasingly international. Many organisations today want the capability to host data offshore to support business growth and as evidenced in our research, see value in working with providers who are familiar with the various regulation, governance and legal considerations across the multiple markets they operate in,’ Bishop concluded.

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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