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Organizations Struggle with Cloud Complexity, Look to AI for Solutions

A global NetApp survey finds that most businesses are being impacted by the growing complexity of cloud environments.

The growing complexity of cloud environments is impacting everything from data management to cybersecurity and testing the bandwidth of IT professionals tasked with managing cloud migration efforts.

These were among the chief results of a global NetApp survey of 1,300 data and technology executives across nine markets, including the United States, EMEA, and APAC.

Nearly half (47%) of U.S.-based tech executives surveyed reported half or more of their cloud deployments will be supported by AI-driven applications in the next year, with nearly two-thirds (65%) saying they'll reach half or more by the end of 2023.

Schwartz pulled quote

The report also found data sovereignty/compliance and ESG goals are major cloud drivers for companies globally, with a whopping 79% of tech executives saying cloud systems are developed with sustainability goals specifically in mind.

Nearly three-quarters (74%) of tech executives said their multicloud strategy is driven by data sovereignty requirements, adding the various local regulations where data is collected and stored to the list of demands alongside sustainability and business demands.

"While these motivators are enlightening in themselves, they do not make the complexities of cloud any easier to manage," said Ronen Schwartz, NetApp's senior vice president and general manager of cloud storage.

Navigating cloud environments is proving to be an extremely intricate and laborious feat, but these motivators also depict a more serious picture of the pressure companies are putting on the cloud, which feeds the upward trend of skepticism at the executive level, he said.

Business Leaders Skeptical of Cost Savings

Meanwhile, the horizon of achieving the ROI is shrinking as the macroeconomic environment changes are adding to the increasing pressure.

Approximately 76% of tech executives reported that their CFO or other business leaders are somewhat to extremely skeptical of seeing cost savings.

"While the economy contracts, companies need to justify and rationalize costs, and many are migrating to the cloud as they pursue long-term cost and value benefits," Schwartz said. "The C-suite and board want to see results from high-visibility, high-cost investments such as the cloud."

In fact, 84% of tech executives are already expected to show returns on their cloud investments or are under pressure to show short-term progress.

"While outcomes remain to be seen at some organizations, skepticism is bound to grow and can be a major hurdle for CIOs and CTOs mapping out a cloud migration plan," he noted. "Realistic timelines and expectations should be set from the earliest conversations to avoid these pitfalls."

Schwartz added that technology executives must work together to understand the advantages of digital transformation and AI initiatives as a result of cloud investments, and how poor IT performance, loss in revenue, and barriers to business growth are key issues many face as a result of cloud complexity.

"Loss in revenue and barriers to business growth are key issues many face as a result of cloud complexity," he said. "While stakeholders may be wary about cloud adoption due to these complexities, the benefits of cloud technology such as data sovereignty, sustainability, and cost reduction are too significant to ignore."

Forward-Thinking Companies Getting the Most Out of the Cloud

From Schwartz's perspective, companies that are forward-thinking about how and where they manage their data, security, and cloud infrastructures will be the ones that ensure sound investment.

"By employing the right approach, we will see the cloud come closer to delivering on its full promise as infrastructure, applications, and data become valuable assets rather than potential IT burdens," Schwartz said.

As technology becomes more complex, the demand for skilled professionals has grown, resulting in a shortage of experts who can tackle the challenging work. To address the IT talent crunch, many are turning to AI to stay competitive.

About a third of the survey respondents said the top benefit of using artificial intelligence in their organizations is to close the skills gap.

In addition, scaling AI and automation is ranked by 39% as among the top three business needs to drive cloud investment to offset workforce gaps.

"The time is now for technology leaders to prioritize solutions that deliver the most value and reduce cloud complexity," Schwartz said. "Tech executives universally report myriad business impacts due to increasing complexity of data across their cloud environments."

This includes both external challenges such as cybersecurity and internal obstacles like skepticism from leadership and staff not taking full advantage of business applications — 98% of tech executives globally report their businesses have been impacted by the increasing complexity of data across cloud.

About the author

Nathan Eddy headshotNathan Eddy is a freelance writer for ITPro Today. He has written for Popular Mechanics, Sales & Marketing Management Magazine, FierceMarkets, and CRN, among others. In 2012 he made his first documentary film, The Absent Column. He currently lives in Berlin.
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