Hybrid cloud statistics can give a false impression of how many businesses operate in a hybrid environment due to sample size, the industry sector(s) being surveyed, and the way in which survey questions are structured. But these aren’t the only reasons why you should ignore hybrid cloud statistics.
If you rely on statistics to base business decisions related to cloud computing, you might want to reconsider your approach. Although the quote “there are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics” is probably too strong a condemnation of hybrid cloud statistics, the quote “99 percent of statistics only tell 49 percent of the story” is probably closer to the truth.
Statistics are regularly published by software vendors to indicate the state of the market or highlight a problem their solution can solve. It’s only by reading the small print you discover the vendor surveyed a couple of hundred business in a minor industry sector using a heavily loaded question to get the desired responses (i.e. “do you agree hybrid cloud issues could be resolved with a highly skilled workforce?”).
Looking Deeper into Hybrid Cloud Statistics
The first reason for ignoring hybrid cloud statistics is that, although some comprehensive reports display separate survey results by business size, location, or industry sector, more often than not every response is bundled together to produce a headline statistic. Looking at a cross-section of hybrid cloud statistics published already this year, you can see that headline statistics can vary by more than 50%, giving an unreliable picture of hybrid cloud adoption.
Rate of Hybrid Cloud Adoption
What’s most noticeable about these hybrid cloud statistics is that the largest sample size produced the lowest rate of cloud adoption, and the smallest sample size produced the highest rate of hybrid cloud adoption.
What is a Hybrid Cloud?
Our second reason for ignoring hybrid cloud statistics is that survey subjects don’t always know they’re operating in a hybrid environment. A 2018 survey conducted by the market research company Forrester (PDF) found that only a third of survey respondents had migrated to a hybrid environment “by design”, with the remainder having found themselves in a hybrid environment. Part of this is due to the way in which different research companies and even Cloud Service Providers define the cloud. For example:
- Nutanix defines a hybrid cloud as “combined use of at least one private cloud and at least one public cloud service, with some degree of integration between the two cloud environments”.
- According to Amazon Web Services, a hybrid cloud “is the integration of on-premises resources with cloud resources”.
- Microsoft, however, defines their hybrid cloud service as “tools and services designed to work together across your on-premises and cloud environments”.
- And according to IBM, a hybrid cloud is “the use of a private cloud foundation combined with the strategic integration and use of public cloud services”.
It’s no wonder survey subjects get confused. Many businesses wouldn’t have regarded their on-premises infrastructure as a private cloud until recently - which explains why hybrid cloud adoption rates appear to have sky-rocketed. Businesses who would have previously answered “we operate in the public cloud” are now changing their answers to “we operate in a hybrid cloud” without changing how they operate at all!
What’s Right for One Business May Not be Right for Your Business
The best reason for ignoring hybrid cloud statistics is that each individual business should base its cloud strategy on what’s appropriate for its own requirements and not be influenced by what other businesses are doing. The “lemmings strategy” of “everybody else is doing it, so we should do it too” is more than likely to have a bad outcome - especially as the statistics on which the business decision is made may be fundamentally flawed.
At CloudHealth, we believe it’s important businesses are aware of the potential advantages and disadvantages of a hybrid cloud environment before deciding to migrate workloads from an on-premises infrastructure to a public or virtual private cloud. In our article “When to use a hybrid cloud strategy”, we concluded there were six factors a business should consider to determine whether a hybrid environment was the right environment for them:
- When the math says a hybrid cloud strategy is appropriate.
- When workloads demand cyclical resources and you do not want to add permanent resources.
- When the law says a hybrid cloud strategy is necessary.
- When you want to keep control of your IT infrastructure.
- When mechanisms exist for the strategy to function seamlessly.