Does the single-vendor cloud approach still make sense? IBM says no

It is becoming evident that placing critical workloads into the hands of just a single cloud provider comes with its fair share of risk, IBM thinks.
15 November 2021

Does the single-vendor cloud approach make sense anymore? (Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP)

  • Hybrid cloud and multi-cloud appear to be the most popular IT architectures for cloud service delivery, according to an IBM study
  • 97% of businesses worldwide have adopted a hybrid cloud strategy, according to the study

It wasn’t until the last five years that cloud computing has become much more mainstream. Gartner predicts that by 2025, cloud computing will be pervasive, driving not only technological innovation but also serving as the foundation for business innovation. The trend would then help establish hybrid cloud and multi-cloud as the most popular IT architecture for cloud service delivery, according to IBM.

What IBM is further trying to say is that the one-vendor approach to cloud computing that was the standard of the past would also slowly disappear, because, a recent survey by Big Blue found that only 3% of decision-makers are using a single private or public cloud in 2021, down from 29% in 2019. Spanning 7,200 executives across 28 industries and 47 countries, the global survey highlighted that in specific industries including electronics, manufacturing and telecommunications, the number can fall to a paltry 1%. 

Conducted by the IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) in cooperation with Oxford Economics, the report findings also indicate that the cloud market has entered the hybrid multi-cloud era, and concerns around vendor lock-in, security, compliance, and interoperability remain paramount. 

IBM: Even with cloud, two is better than one

No doubt, cloud computing has become a huge global industry, with 2020 revenues of US$219 billion, and industry analysts expect those revenues to grow to US$791 billion by 2028. IBM even estimates it to be a US$1 trillion dollar market by 2030

In IBM’s study, the percentage of respondents claiming a mix of multiple private and public clouds rose from 44% to 59%. “While the definition of “hybrid” cloud varied across respondents, they did claim hybrid cloud capabilities (such as moving data from cloud to cloud, and running consistent governance and compliance tools across multiple clouds) as important or extremely important to the success of their digital initiatives,” the report reads.

However, with more companies outsourcing key processes to the cloud, it is also becoming more apparent that the number of providers of cloud services is limited. The market is currently dominated by a handful of mega tech players, and the top five providers alone account for an 80% share. Take market leader Amazon Web Services for example who hold 41% of the market, while Microsoft Azure represents nearly 20% — these two already comprise well over half of the entire public cloud space.

Inevitably, the issue of interoperability is likely to become a key priority along with growing cloud adoption. IBM’s survey has already found that for the majority of respondents (79%), workloads being completely portable with no vendor lock-in is extremely important to reach their digital transformation targets. To top it off, 69% said vendor lock-in is a significant obstacle to improving business performance in most, if not all parts of their cloud estate.

Other key findings include how industry-related regulatory compliance is viewed as an obstacle to the business performance of 64% of the respondents’ cloud environments. The study elaborated that enterprises need to assess how they use the cloud in terms of adoption, velocity, migration, speed, and cost savings opportunities. 

Conclusively, IBM recommended focusing on security and privacy by weighing which workloads should move to the cloud; ascertaining the data that should work for an organization; setting a tactical approach; and most importantly, determining the right team for the job ahead of making critical decisions.