RightScale's State of Cloud: Cut Wasted Use

RightScale issued its sixth annual State of the Cloud report and found Docker a top DevOps tool, but concerns about 30% usage cloud waste.

Charles Babcock, Editor at Large, Cloud

March 22, 2017

5 Min Read
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Cloud users are increasingly concerned about the money they might be wasting in their public cloud spending, but only a small percentage of them are doing something about it.

Microsoft and Google are gaining in numbers of customers, but behind the stats, Amazon is extending its large lead by increasing the amount of work it hosts for each customer.

Docker is moving up to the top of the list of DevOps tools.

Those are a few of the conclusions that emerge from this year's RightScale State of the Cloud report recently issued by the multi-cloud management firm, RightScale. Gigaom, the tech analyst firm in San Francisco, has described the annual report "one of the more definitive barometers for the state of cloud computing." The 2017 report is RightScale's sixth.

RightScale received responses from 1,002 technical professionals in January to generate its 2017 report, issued Feb. 15. It had emailed questions to over 68,000 found in its database. As a company that provides front-end, workload management for multiple cloud providers, it's in an unusual position to view preferences among cloud users and is itself eager to track larger cloud trends.

Here's another State of the Cloud Report 2017 with a different point of view. See Private Cloud In Retreat; Public Cloud To The Fore.

Forty-eight percent of the respondents described themselves as from a company of 1,000 employees or more. RightScale spokesmen said only 20% of the 1,002 respondents were RightScale customers. While a wide variety of industries were represented, 49% of respondents came from either software or technology companies.

The full version of its report in 75 graphical presentations is available at this link.

Despite frequent criticism of the notion of private cloud, a combination of public and private cloud operation or hybrid cloud remains a goal for a large percentage of the respondents. Eighty-five percent said they have a multi-cloud strategy, up from 82% in the 2016 report. The percentage that include private cloud in that strategy dropped from 77% in 2016 to 72% in this year's report.

Public cloud users said they are using an average of 1.8 clouds, and experimenting with another 1.8 public clouds. Private cloud users are using 2.3 private clouds, they said, and experimenting with 2.1 more. OpenStack open source software is frequently adopted for private cloud use by enterprises, including PayPal, Comcast, and The Gap. Microsoft makes available an on-premises software suite known as Azure Stack, among other candidates.

Some participants in the survey are likely to be referring to a self-service virtual machine management environment as private cloud as well. RightScale said the survey showed 42% of the private cloud practitioners were VMware vSphere users, VMware's general purpose enterprise VM management system. Another 19% said they use VMware's vCloud Suite for private cloud. The Azure Stack was in use by 9% of respondents in 2016 and 14% in 2017. It was the only form of private cloud to display any growth. OpenStack was flat and accounted for 20% this year.

RightScale said both Google and Microsoft showed an ability to grow their customer bases over the past year. Azure use grew from 20% to 34% among respondents between 2016 and 2017, with an even higher uptick when looking at only enterprise customers, up from 26% to 43%. Amazon's percentage was flat overall, with a small uptick from 56% to 59% among enterprise customers. Google grew from 10% to 15%.

But Amazon as basically flat is not the whole story. Among Amazon users, 28% are running more than 100 virtual machines on EC2, while only 13% have more than 100 VMs on Azure. Among enterprises, 38% have 100-plus VMs on AWS; 21% on Azure.

DevOps is an interest alongside cloud infrastructure, among the survey respondents. Overall adoption moved from 74% to 78%. Among enterprise users, DevOps users now amount to 84% of respondents. Last year 21% of companies adopted DevOps companywide, as opposed to a limited core of adopters. This year that figure was 30%.

Docker was the top tool involved in DevOps use, moving up to 35% and taking over the lead from Chef and Puppet, at 28% each. That movement is aided by the major cloud providers offering a service to launch containers: Azure Container Service, Google Container Engine and AWS EC2 Container Service.

One surprise among the results was that the survey respondents estimated that 30% of their cloud spend was wasted. (RightScale said its own measures of customer use showed 30%-45% can be viewed as wasted. "Despite an increased focus on cloud cost management, only a minority of companies are taking critical actions to optimize cloud costs, such as shifting down unused workloads or selecting lower-cost clouds or regions," the report said.

For 53% of respondents, their top cloud initiative is "optimizing existing cloud use (cost savings)." Their second top initiative, cited by 52%, is "moving more workloads to the cloud." Their third initiative is "expanding public clouds we use," or broadening their list of suppliers.

In an effort to help customers right-size their workloads, AWS early on offered a cloud optimization tool meant to minimize over-provisioniing of workloads, AWS Trusted Advisor.  Other cloud suppliers have followed suite, such as Microsoft's Cloud Analysis tool.

That apparently hasn't meant that customer's are using just the right amount of resources in the public cloud, according to the RightScale report.

RightScale may be emphasizing the point in its 2017 report because it bought the Scottish startup, ShopForCloud, later PlanForCloud, in 2012 and now offers its own cloud use optimization service.

Several third parties also offer workload assessment and cloud optimization services, such as AppTio, Cloudability, Cloud Checkr and CloudHealth.

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About the Author(s)

Charles Babcock

Editor at Large, Cloud

Charles Babcock is an editor-at-large for InformationWeek and author of Management Strategies for the Cloud Revolution, a McGraw-Hill book. He is the former editor-in-chief of Digital News, former software editor of Computerworld and former technology editor of Interactive Week. He is a graduate of Syracuse University where he obtained a bachelor's degree in journalism. He joined the publication in 2003.

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