cloud costs

Is your institution keeping up with leading universities in the cloud race?


A new survey reveals exactly how much leading higher education IT professionals expect to increase spending on cloud technologies; their implementation musts.

Despite a dwindling budget, 81 percent of higher education cloud adopters participating in a recent survey said their institution will increase spending on cloud technologies in 2017.

The MeriTalk study, “Destination Cloud: The Federal and SLED Cloud Journey,” underwritten by NetApp and Avnet Government Solutions, reveals which route higher education institutions are taking to reach their cloud destination.

60 percent of higher-ed institutions are integrating cloud technologies into their IT strategies. Overall, 55 percent of cloud adopters are evaluating cloud solutions as part of their overall IT strategy, and the remaining 45 percent are evaluating cloud technologies for a limited number of specific applications.

Though there is an initial cost up-front, cost savings is a key cloud driver, according to 59 percent of higher education participants. Gartner estimates that about $205 billion, or 6 percent of the world’s IT budget of $3.4 trillion, will be spent on cloud computing in 2016. It expects that number to grow to $240 billion in the next year, an estimated increase of 17 percent.

(Next page: Why cloud technologies are becoming efficiency-critical to IT)

76 percent of higher education respondents cited increased productivity, and 77 cited improved customer service as benefits to cloud technologies.

Key findings include:

  • Today, 39 percent of apps run in the cloud, but by 2021, 62 percent are predicted to run in the cloud
  • 63 percent of higher education respondents say they now look to cloud options first when considering new investments.
  • Email (86 percent), web hosting (84 percent), custom business apps (82 percent) are the top apps in the cloud
  • 50 percent of higher education cloud adopters report their institutions run the bulk of their applications in private cloud
  • When it comes to the person primarily responsible for deciding which application is next in line to migrate to the cloud, higher education respondents said the job lies with the CIO (42 percent) or the IT director (41 percent).

The Public vs Private Cloud Debate

Though public sector cloud adopters see improvements in productivity, customer services, and cost savings by moving applications to the cloud, there’s a fork in the road: public cloud versus private cloud. While 89 percent of overall surveyed IT managers see benefits to selecting public cloud offerings, 95 percent see drawbacks, and 61 percent report their agency or institution has privacy and security concerns.

Cloud adopters are significantly more likely to select private cloud over public cloud for apps that handle sensitive information (78 percent compared to 14 percent) or are highly specialized (69 percent compared to 21 percent).

The majority of cloud adopters (63 percent) say they plan to use more private clouds over the next five years, with 38 percent planning to use more public clouds and 37 percent planning to use more hybrid clouds.

Prep Steps

The steps agencies and institutions take to prepare to migrate systems to the cloud include:

  • Identify and mitigate risks (57 percent)
  • Develop a migration strategy (56 percent)
  • Prioritize applications for migration (52 percent)
  • Assess the required computing, network, and/or storage needs (47 percent)
  • Develop a cost model (46 percent)
  • Prepare the workforce for the transition (45 percent)

The report also offers recommendations for a move to cloud technologies:

Plan for the Journey: With respondents planning to nearly double their cloud adoption over the next five years, agencies/institutions must prepare for the shift by assessing their cloud goals, identifying the most critical cloud-ready apps, and developing appropriate cost models.
Establish Your Route: Which cloud offering makes the most sense? Examine your chosen applications and their needs. Today’s Federal and SLED cloud adopters lean toward private cloud, especially for highly secure or specialized apps.
Prep Your Passengers: To ensure a smooth transition, cloud adopters recommend taking steps to prepare the workforce and establish trust with cloud providers.

Laura Ascione