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Hybrid Cloud Is Here to Stay, Report Says

Though entrance to the cloud is becoming easier, certain IT functions may remain on premise permanently.

Despite the massive amount of press, the cloud won’t completely dominate government anytime soon, according to a new study.

A survey released May 24 based on data gathered in December 2015 by networking firm SolarWinds found that while most of the study’s 116 IT professionals have invested in the cloud, a majority reported belief that there are certain functions that will never be migrated. The hybrid approach is here to stay, said SolarWinds CIO Joel Dolisy.

“The main takeaway is that cloud adoption is real,” Dolisy said. “What we’ve seen is the same on the federal and also on the commercial side. It is becoming a reality, delegating some of the workflows that they usually had on premise to actually running on the cloud. By no means does this mean this is an all-or-nothing type of play. We are going to be into this situation called a hybrid deployment, because it doesn’t make economic sense for them to push all the workloads to the cloud.”

Only 8 percent of respondents reported zero cloud investment. And 41 percent estimated that half or more of their organizations would be migrated to the cloud within five years. The study results, Dolisy said, are a confirmation of what the company believed about today’s market.

“To some extent, it was what was expected,” he said. “I think it’s always good to see the numbers confirming the gut feel that you have, because of the circumstantial evidence that you see and hear on phone calls and things like that, so having all of that being summarized into the survey gives us a good feel of the current strategies.”

The survey results also indicate that a hybrid approach is expected to last for a long time. The cloud’s popularity is accompanied by a belief that there are certain functions that work better when operated on premise. About 62 percent of respondents said they believed it was unlikely that their entire organization would ever by migrated to the cloud.

As with all tech, cybersecurity is a chief concern in the cloud. About 63 percent of respondents said security is the biggest challenge surrounding cloud migration. One nice thing, Dolisy said, is that what an organization sometimes gives up in terms of control, they can gain in quality because some organizations can’t afford to be as thorough in their security measures compared to what large cloud providers can offer.

“It’s always going to be a first and foremost concern because to some extent, you’re not in control of all of storage and delivery and fine-grain security,” he said, noting that most organizations aren't in as much control as they may think they are when they have those aspects on premise, or when they're responsible for their infrastructure.

"And I think that’s going to take a long time to go away," Dolisy added, "but while it is a concern, what we see is that it’s not necessarily a blocking factor anymore for people to use those systems. Over the past five years, we’re seen a tremendous amount of progress in people being able to handle those types of systems.”

The findings of SolarWinds’ IT Trends Report 2016 are embedded in an online visualization called the IT Trends Index.

Editor's Note: This article was edited on June 2, 2016 to properly reflect Joel Dolisy's title with SolarWinds.

Colin wrote for Government Technology and Emergency Management from 2010 through most of 2016.