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IT Priorities 2017: Hybrid cloud set to dominate datacentre infrastructure buying decisions

The 2017 Computer Weekly/TechTarget IT Priorities poll suggests the next 12 months will see enterprise IT buyers move to increase the hybrid-readiness of their datacentre facilities

Connecting on-premise datacentre assets to public cloud resources will be a top investment priority for UK and European IT decision makers in 2017, research suggests.

According to the findings of the 2017 Computer Weekly/Tech Target IT Priorities survey, readying their on-premise infrastructure for hybrid cloud has been voted the number one datacentre investment priority by IT decision makers across the continent.

With enterprises increasingly looking to tap into off-premise resources, the hybrid cloud is often seen as a delivery model that will enable them to do that while making the most of their existing datacentre investments.

Which is important for enterprises that might still have several or more years still to run on their existing datacentre leases, but do not want to miss out on the cost savings and business agility benefits public cloud could bring.

All of the major cloud providers – including Microsoft, Google and Amazon Web Services (AWS) – have spent a large portion of 2016 setting out their enterprise hybrid cloud strategies for this reason.

According analyst Gartner, 2017 is also likely to see an uptick in enterprises looking to manage public, private and hybrid cloud resources from a multitude of providers, as their digital transformation efforts in this area continue to mature and evolve.

“While public cloud usage will continue to increase, the use of private cloud and hosted private cloud services is also expected to increase at least through 2017,” said Gartner.

“The increased use of multiple public cloud providers, plus growth in various types of private cloud services, will create a multicloud environment in most enterprises and a need to coordinate cloud usage using hybrid scenarios.”

The rise and rise of cloud computing

The annual Computer Weekly/TechTarget poll shines a light on the investment plans of European IT managers over the coming year, and more than 1,000 of them (including 322 from the UK) took part in the 2017 survey, with cloud – overall – set to be a keen area of focus for the majority over the course of the next 12 months. 

Just over a quarter (27.8%) of respondents said they anticipate their IT budget will either remain the same or increase (38.1%) in 2017, and cloud will be responsible for consuming a growing proportion of their annual spend.

Indeed, cloud services was namechecked in both the UK and European versions of the poll as the number one area IT decision makers expect to see an increase in budget for during 2017.

The results are in line with analyst predictions for the year ahead, with market watcher 451 Research’s latest Voice of the enterprise report stating that enterprises will increase their IT budget spend on cloud from 28% this year to 34% in 2017.

“Within some organisations, there is a perceived benefit to moving from making big capital expenditures on computing hardware to moving to a more operational model where you only pay for the capacity as you need it. That’s one basic driver of cloud adoption,” said Liam Eagle, research manager and co-author of the 451 Research report.

“The other main drivers are greater flexibility and access to resources, and now there’s an element of transformation that needs to take place within the IT organisation to take advantage of that.”

Read more about the IT priorities of enterprise IT managers

Outside of the infrastructure space, the 2017 IT Priorities survey also revealed that software-as-a-service (SaaS) looks set to be the most highly favoured application deployment model in 2017, with just over half (57%) of UK respondents voting for it. This was the same for the European version, where 46.9% of pollsters voted SaaS.

Hybrid cloud environments were voted the second most popular location for application deployment in both versions of the poll, reinforcing earlier findings from the report that suggest building out capabilities in this area will be a top priority for enterprise IT leaders in 2017.

Looking back and to the year ahead

The results are in marked contrast to 2016’s poll, when server virtualisation was named as the top datacentre investment priority for respondents in both the UK and European versions of the survey.

Server virtualisation has slid down to sixth place in the 2017 UK poll, with 22% of the vote, and is ranked third in this year’s European version.

This specific finding is in keeping with Gartner’s predictions that a downturn in demand for server virtualisation technologies could be expected in 2017, as enterprises move to wind down their on-premise infrastructure investments and reach a point where they have virtualised all they can.

“[Server virtualisation] continues to be an important and heavily used technology for these businesses, but this market segment is approaching saturation,” said Gartner.

“Organisations with smaller IT budgets expect a further decline in usage through to at least 2017. This is causing an overall decline in new spending for on-premises server virtualisation.”

Another IT buying trend affecting this part of the market is the fact that enterprises are increasing their use of servers that do not need to be virtualised, thanks to the growing popularity of software-defined and hyper-converged infrastructure stacks.

“What was considered as the best approach to greater infrastructure agility only a few years ago is now being challenged by an array of newer infrastructure choices,” added Gartner research director Michael Warrilow.

Read more on Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)