A tale of two surveys, one by Solarwinds, the other by Unitrends.

In December 2015, Solarwinds surveyed 257 IT professionals in the US and Canada as the basis of its IT Trends Report 2016: The Hybrid IT Evolution. There were not a lot of surprises in the report, if any, but it’s always useful to have data:

  • 92% of IT professionals conveyed that “Adopting cloud technologies is important to their organizations’ long term success.” 91% reported having migrated at least part of their infrastructure to the cloud.
  • Top 3 benefits driving adoption: Cost reduction, Flexibility, Reduction in day-to-day infrastructure management
  • Top areas of infrastructure migrated to the cloud: Applications, Storage, and a distant third, Databases.

In a separate study, Unitrends surveyed 900 IT professionals in February 2016, diving in to cloud usage for backup, disaster recovery, and archiving; subsets of the Storage category. This survey revealed that 52% of companies have implemented a cloud strategy for these important elements, leaving a whopping 48% indicating “no,” or “not yet.”

Why the gap?

One obvious hypothesis is the different sample surveyed: any overlap was coincidental, and perhaps unlikely. However, examining the Unitrends data reveals that there are many real, and perceived, barriers to cloud adoption for backup and disaster recovery (multiple responses solicited):

  • Cost, as cited by 48% of those surveyed
  • Security (an issue also cited by Solarwinds), 33%
  • Company policy (Wow! Is policy really holding back IT evolution?), 28%
  • Existing solution meets needs (why change what isn’t broken…), 20%
  • Lack of resources or internal expertise, 13%.

There is hope, however, as 24% reported they are evaluating cloud-based solutions. Not that I’m biased, but I believe they will discover the benefits outweigh the near term effort to make the transition: the Unitrends survey indicated that those who HAVE adopted the cloud for backup, disaster recovery, and archiving were driven by these factors:

  • Operational efficiencies (42%)
  • Cost savings (36%)
  • IT Reliability (36%).

As 73% of these respondents indicated they may or will expand their use of cloud backup and recovery services in the next 12 months, it appears that the cloud approach is working for them. I’m thinking that their sys admins can spend more time working on important tasks, now that maintaining servers is done elsewhere, taking advantage of the plethora of tools to help them manage their cloud usage. The potential to reduce CAPEX is significant, with the reduced need for infrastructure investment. Migrating VMs to run in the cloud offers additional savings, including license costs. Yes, spend shifts to OPEX, but the race to the bottom for storage costs between Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and others is radically changing the economics. Trading off cloud storage fees and optimized bandwidth cost against server maintenance, power, cooling, and the need to maintain redundant servers or data centers makes for a compelling case.

Back to closing that gap.

VMware users have a relatively painless way to test the cloud for backup, disaster recovery, and, to go the extra mile, VM migration. Boomerang makes it easy to replicate VMs in AWS S3 for low-cost storage, schedule incremental backups, and copy back as needed. Need DR too? On command, Boomerang rehydrates the S3 backups as complete VMs, and auto-converts to native Amazon Machine Images (AMIs) in AWS EC2 for efficient, low cost computing. Boomerang can also reverse the process and return ready-to-run VMs, complete with network settings, to any VMware environment.

Don’t take my word for it. You can try Boomerang for free, with or without your own AWS account.

“Wait… that means we have to learn AWS.” Yes, and although Boomerang makes it easy to get there, having some basic knowledge helps. Good news: there are free online AWS courses available from qwikLABS, an AWS Authorized Content Provider. And more good news: Unitrends will pay tuition for more advanced online training.