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IT Priorities 2020: Datacentres remain mainstay of enterprise IT, despite continued cloud creep

The 2020 IT Priorities Survey from Computer Weekly and TechTarget confirms enterprise datacentres remain the deployment site of choice for many workloads, but stepping up the use of cloud is a top investment plan for firms this year

On-premise datacentres remain the most prevalent deployment environment for enterprise IT workloads, despite IT leaders across the UK and Ireland setting out plans to devote more of their budgets to cloud migration projects.

That’s according to data accrued from the Computer Weekly/TechTarget IT Priorities 2020 survey, which quizzed 383 UK and Ireland-based IT decision-makers about their business technology purchasing plans for the year ahead.

To set the scene for this year’s survey, respondents were asked to choose up to three different IT environment types that would best describe their current infrastructure setup, with the majority of respondents (43%) indicating that they operate an on-premise datacentre or server room setup.

Additionally, just over a quarter (26%) said they had a hybrid IT setup in place, made up of both private and public cloud elements, while 24% said their IT setup was predominantly based around software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications.

The same percentage (24%) also stated that their IT environments were based around infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and public cloud resources, while 20% said they had embraced a multicloud strategy, whereby they mix and match resources from several different public cloud providers.

And the responses from participants to other questions posed as part of the survey suggest a hybrid IT setup is an infrastructure strategy that enterprises across the UK and Ireland are planning to emulate in due course.

Indeed, market watcher Gartner declared that hybrid setups became a standard part of enterprise IT environments in 2019, as IT decision-makers and CIOs sought ways to extend the capabilities of their existing datacentre investments, while tapping into the scalability and performance benefits that cloud can bring.

Where the TechTarget data is concerned, when asked which digital transformation-led initiatives will impact on their organisation’s 2020 technology spending plans the most, the deployment of cloud infrastructure resources came out top, with 41% of respondents citing this as a key investment priority for the year ahead.

When asked elsewhere to name-check all the areas they were likely to devote more of their IT budgets to in 2020, cloud services emerged as the second most commonly cited initiative by 38% of respondents, while security and risk management came out top with 53% of the vote.

On-premise operations not going away

Interestingly, at the opposite end of this part of the poll, on-premise investments were also flagged as an investment priority for the year ahead, particularly where server and storage appliances are concerned, with 10% and 6% of respondents respectively citing these.

Again, these results are in keeping with the observations and predictions made by the analyst community about how the enterprise’s relationship with on-premise datacentres and cloud is likely to change over time, with Gartner data suggesting enterprise spending on cloud will outpace the amount spent on non-cloud IT offerings through 2022.

Taken together, all these stats suggest enterprises remain wedded to their on-premise infrastructure investments, and are increasingly looking to cloud to help supplement and support the IT workloads they have running there.

In some cases, this might be to buy the organisation some time before they are ready for a wholescale move of all their applications and workloads to the cloud, with Gartner data suggesting that 80% of enterprises will have closed their datacentres by the year 2025.

At the moment, though, its data suggests around 10% of enterprises have followed this course of action, meaning there are still many live enterprise datacentre sites out there.

Some of these may require some form of equipment upgrade or refresh to keep ticking over until enterprises are ready to move to the cloud, which is backed by the TechTarget data.

“What remains on-premise are business processes that are mission-critical and require greater oversight and more detailed levels of control than is available via cloud infrastructure and hosted models,” said Gartner, in a research note from November 2019.

There is also anecdotal evidence that some organisations, having kicked the tyres on cloud, are now migrating some workloads back on-premise for performance, security and cost reasons. A process that has been dubbed “de-clouding” .

On-site infrastructure investment

Either way, the data suggests private datacentres will remain a key component of the wider IT strategies for enterprises for a long time to come, with IT decision-makers setting out plans elsewhere in the research to invest in areas that will serve to beef up the security and improve the efficiency and performance of their facilities.

To this point, respondents to the survey were asked to pinpoint all infrastructure management tools they intend to invest in over the coming year, with security (41%), monitoring (31%) and automation (27%) technologies emerging as the top three types they plan to purchase in 2020.

The area flagged by the least amount of respondents was investing in edge computing environments, despite this being an area that respondents flagged in other areas of the poll as being centrally important to delivering on their internet of things (IoT) strategies and network-related infrastructure upgrades.

The results of this year’s poll are broadly in keeping with the insights gleaned from the 2019 version of the Computer Weekly/Tech Target IT Priorities survey, where moving to the cloud was name-checked by respondents as their top IT investment area.

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