RightScale State of the Cloud Report for 2017

RightScale just published its annual report on the state of the cloud, and some of the key findings are very interesting. Topics range from cloud vendor market share to cloud adoption concerns, DevOps tools adoption, public vs. private cloud adoption, and much more. Below, I highlight the major findings I thought most interesting and follow each with my perspective on it.

1. Azure increases market penetration, reducing the AWS lead.

  • Overall Azure adoption grew from 20 to 34 percent of respondents, while AWS stayed flat at 57 percent of respondents.
  • Google also grew from 10 to 15 percent to maintain third position.
  • Azure also reduced the AWS lead among enterprises; Azure increased adoption significantly from 26 percent to 43 percent, while AWS adoption in this group increased slightly, from 56 percent to 59 percent.
Graph: Public Cloud Adoption 2017 vs. 2016
Source: RightScale

My Take: I agree that more companies are using Microsoft and the adoption is increasing, but I think it is a stretch to say that AWS’s lead is diminishing. I would measure market share by the number of cloud services being consumed by companies rather than the number of companies using a cloud provider. Don’t let this headline fool you. Instead, look at the following chart, which shows workloads by cloud provider. Unfortunately, I don’t have the numbers from 2016 to see if Microsoft is actually gaining or not.

Graph: Number of VMs in Cloud
Source: RightScale

I am seeing customers go very deep with AWS’s service catalog, which was not the case just one to two years ago. Historically, most companies were afraid of lock-in and were using only the basic APIs for compute, network, and storage. But as these companies have matured their capabilities in the cloud, they are now realizing the agility benefits of consuming managed services around databases, streaming and IoT, and security. My gut feel is that as AWS continues to release new high-value APIs to the market at its current tepid pace, it will continue to widen this margin on workloads in the cloud. Hopefully, next year’s comparison will tell the story.

2. Hybrid cloud is the preferred enterprise strategy, but private cloud adoption fell.

  • Private cloud adoption fell from 77 percent to 72 percent, also bringing hybrid cloud adoption down from 71 percent to 67 percent year-over-year.
  • 85 percent of enterprises have a multicloud strategy, up from 82 percent in 2016.
  • 95 percent of organizations surveyed are running applications or experimenting with Infrastructure as a Service.
  • Only Microsoft technologies showed a net gain in 2017 for private cloud technologies.
Graph: Enterprise Private Cloud Adoption 2017 vs. 2016
Source: RightScale

My Take: I have been arguing for two years that the growth in hybrid cloud is impacted more by the adoption of public cloud than private cloud. Most companies I work with started with a private cloud implementation, many with no intentions to ever go to the public cloud. Now almost every one of those companies is embracing the public cloud, and some are even all-in and totally abandoning their private cloud strategy.

3. Companies run a majority of workloads in cloud.

  • Respondents run 41 percent of workloads in public cloud and 38 percent in private cloud.
  • Among enterprises, respondents run 32 percent of workloads in public cloud and 43 percent in private cloud.

My Take: If this statement refers only to cloud-related workloads, then I am comfortable with these numbers. However, if they are saying that 79% of enterprise workloads are in the public (41%) and private (38%) clouds, then I am calling this “fake news” or “alternative facts.” In my experience, it is taking companies multiple years to move that many workloads into the cloud. Most large companies are more in the 5 to 10% range.

4. Docker shoots into the lead for DevOps tools.

  • Overall DevOps adoption rises from 74 to 78 percent, with enterprises reaching 84 percent. 30 percent of enterprises are adopting DevOps company-wide, up from 21 percent in 2016.
  • Overall Docker adoption surges to 35 percent, taking the lead over Chef and Puppet at 28 percent each.
  • Kubernetes adoption also grew strongly, to 14 percent from 7 percent in 2016.
  • An even higher percentage of enterprises use Docker (40 percent), with 30 percent more planning to use it.
  • Many respondents use Docker through Container as a Service offerings from cloud providers including AWS ECS (35 percent), Azure Container Service (11 percent), and Google Container Engine (8 percent).
  • Use of Puppet and Chef fell this year, from 32 percent to 28 percent of respondents for each. Ansible stayed steady, used by 21 percent of respondents vs. 20 percent in 2016.
Graph: Enterprise Respondents Using DevOps Tools
Source: RightScale

My Take: I am seeing similar trends with my clients, although most of them are very early in the adoption stage and have very few container-based workloads in production. The number-one use case seems to be around build and deployment pipelines. It is interesting to note the slight decline in configuration management tools (Chef, Puppet, etc.) I had a discussion in a podcast last year on whether or not the broad adoption of Docker would create a decline in the amount of Chef and Puppet usage. It looks like it might be having an impact.


There are many other newsworthy findings in this year’s report, which I recommend you check out. What is not mentioned anywhere is how serverless architectures play a role in all of this data. I suspect that serverless will be added to the survey next year since it is rising in popularity and usage.

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