We recently performed a survey of SolarWinds customers and IT professionals on the topic of 2012 Cloud and Virtualization predictions. There are some pretty interesting results in here that speak to the changing dynamics of IT in the face of cloud computing and external service providers. First, a bit about the folks that were surveyed. Of the 64 respondents, there was a good mix of staff roles, including managerial, director level and above.

Figure 1 - Roles.jpg


Most folks in the survey indicated they had at least eight years experience with IT, and the size of the managed IT environment ranged from less than a couple of hundred systems up to 1500 systems for the majority of respondents.

We asked what percentage of the environmenthas been virtualized to date and the results are quite interesting.

Figure 2 - Virtualized Environment.jpg

Close to two thirds of the respondents are more than 50 percent virtualized. Many have broken through the supposed “VM Stall” problem where virtualization efforts slow down or even stop as new challenges cause IT departments to modify or reassess their virtualization strategy, usually around the time they have 20-30 percent of servers virtualized. We talk about a three-phase model of virtualization adoption here at SolarWinds and a lot of folks are squarely in Phase Two – starting to really reap the operational (vs. CapEx) benefits of virtualization and running important applications on virtualization in production.

We then delved further into the topic of private cloud, and who is going to be the trusted private cloud vendor of choice.

Figure 3 - Private Cloud Vendors.jpg

There clearly appears to be a “changing of the guard” so to speak with the hypervisor vendors (and VMware in particular) seeming to inherit the private cloud mantle, presumably from their underlying virtualization strengths.

Now is where it gets really interesting (and hence the title of this blog post). We asked customers which of the following roles/tasks they planned to investin:

  • "Marketing" of IT Service back to the business
  • "Product Marketing" for IT services
  • "Financial" roles for the pricing/chargeback of IT services
  • "Competitive Analysis" (vs. external service providers)
  • Other

Figure 4 - IT Dept. Investment.jpg


The big stand out is that almost two thirds of customers said they would invest in competitive analysis vs. external service providers. This speaks to the competitive pressure that internal IT departments find themselves in versus the emerging cloud providers (Amazon, Rackspace and others). As Robbie pointed out in his recent blog post, the pressure is certainly on IT to demonstrate that they can perform and compete as an “internal service provider.” Furthermore, this survey shows that they are also getting serious about it by planning to invest in additional roles to take on this competition – namely product management and product marketing to be able to “market” the effectiveness if their internal IT service delivery.

When asked about cloud adoption, respondents had a fairly even split between leveraging private, public and hybrid models of cloud computing, although private cloud was slightly ahead. This makes sense since from an internal IT perspective, the clear and present pressure is to try and offer existing IT services along a private cloud operations model in order to compete with external vendors.

Finally, a look at the most pressing management challenges around private cloud adoption:

  • Implementing chargeback
  • Managing performance contention
  • Implementing a self-service portal
  • Automating the end-to-end process
  • Getting business acceptance

Figure 5 - Prviate Cloud Mgmt Challenges.jpg

Similar to surveys we’ve done on virtualization in the past, managing performance contention continues to be the top challenge by far with automation and getting business acceptance tied for (a distant) second. Some consider chargeback and self-service as a necessary condition for the true definition of a private cloud, but they are not considered significant management challenges at this point.

In terms of the tools needed to manage the private cloud, an overwhelming number of respondents indicated that a “holistic approach” to managing the datacenter is “Important” or “Extremely Important.”

Figure 6 - Holistic Approach.jpg

As virtualization has essentially helped to “flatten” the silos, the technologies for compute, network and storage are being ever more tightly tangled together, and dictate the need for a comprehensive set ofmanagement tools such as those available from SolarWinds.