“Hybrid-Cloud-Defined”: new IT industry trend on the horizon in 2018, says ESG

Enterprise Strategy Group Research Reveals EMEA IT Professionals are Focusing on Finding the Optimal Balance Between Legacy and Emerging Storage Infrastructure Options
Rather than simply “ripping and replacing” legacy systems in favour of hot new technologies, IT decision makers in EMEA are focused on finding the optimal balance between traditional storage and emerging on- and off-premises solutions. Their aim is to provide the best possible storage infrastructure to meet their business needs now and prepare for future demands. These findings are amongst the results of a recent survey by the Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG), an integrated IT research, analyst, strategy, and validation firm. As the industry enters 2018, ESG sees the emergence of a new trend, which it has called “hybrid-cloud-defined” to encapsulate the essence, and which will continue to influence spending decisions throughout the year. As a result, the majority of IT decision makers in EMEA has moved at least one workload back from the cloud to on-premises in accordance with business needs. The ESG report surveyed over 410 EMEA IT professionals responsible for evaluating, purchasing and managing data in medium-sized companies and large enterprises about their storage challenges and purchasing dynamics and drivers for the coming 12-18 months.
The ESG study revealed IT organisations are primarily focused on understanding the practical benefits of new technologies and how these can be best leveraged to meet their individual needs, rather than making snap decisions to invest in the “next big thing”. The ultimate goal seems to be working to identify the optimal mix of technologies to deliver the necessary IT storage capabilities and meet corporate requirements.
Storage Challenges
The most common challenge according to the ESG survey respondents is data protection, with 17% of respondents selecting it as their primary storage issue. This, together with hardware costs and rapid data growth, make up the top three. These challenges create a perfect storm facing IT decision makers: data growth is accelerating and the infrastructure required to store and protect this data is still all-too-often perceived as costly and complex. 
Storage Spending
Not surprisingly, the vast majority of respondents (94%) reported that their spending on on-premises data storage is either accelerating (49%) or remaining constant (45%). Among those respondents with either flat or decreasing on-premises storage spending, the leading contributor involved the cloud as the primary factor – 24% identified using more cloud applications, while 20% attested to using more cloud infrastructure services. Innovations in on-premises infrastructure are also having an impact, since 19% of the respondents identified being able to store data more efficiently as the primary reason for their on-premises storage spending growth either leveling off or decelerating.
IT Initiatives
In terms of IT initiatives that will influence storage spending over the next 12-18 months, more than a third (36%) of respondents anticipate leveraging cloud storage to increase capacity without purchasing more on-premises storage, while 26% expect to use more cloud-based applications. While this indicates that on-premises storage spending will fall, many of the remaining responses have positive implications for on-premises storage investments, for example the prevalence of data-intensive workloads such as analytics (36%) and the Internet of Things (31%).
Interestingly, however, while “the cloud” is impacting on-premises storage spending, when storage decision makers were polled about their use of off-premises cloud resources, 57% stated that they had moved at least one workload from a cloud software or infrastructure service back to on-premises resources – indicating a notable element of cloud repatriation.
“Until recently, the storage industry was characterised by continual, steady progress. There were always bigger and/or faster systems, more sophisticated features, and some variations of deployment, but many of the underlying foundations were, for the most part, the same,” said Mark Peters, practice director and senior analyst, Enterprise Strategy Group. “However, ESG’s recent EMEA research clearly reveals that the enterprise storage industry is now in a period of dramatic changes, with IT professionals attempting to find the optimal balance between storage types. We believe we are approaching what we might call a “hybrid-cloud-defined” data ecosystem.” 
About Enterprise Strategy Group
Enterprise Strategy Group is an IT analyst, research, validation, and strategy firm that provides market intelligence and actionable insight to the global IT community. ESG helps its clients achieve business results through a comprehensive portfolio of research and advisory services, consulting, and custom content solutions. www.esg-global.com
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