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By Maxim Melamedov, CEO and cofounder of Zesty.

Cloudy with a chance of pitfalls

The cloud is among the most widely adopted digital tools of the past decade. Almost all of us rely on it every single day for our email, our work tools, our storage — the list goes on. But much like the clouds in the sky, the virtual cloud is also in a constant state of flux, both in the way it works and the ways we use it, with new storms always brewing.

In a recent survey of CIOs and CTOs, we were able to identify some of the pressing challenges they are facing with public cloud environments. 

The research found that budgetary strain was the number one concern facing people directly charged with managing cloud costs. Indeed, the CIOs and CTOs surveyed said they expected cloud spending to comprise 47% of the technology budget for SMEs in 2022 — a whopping 67% increase from 2021. If this trend continues, such spending will likely account for over half of technology budgets by 2023.

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These numbers reflect the deep reliance on the cloud in today’s business environment — but they also raise rightful concerns among innovation leaders who want to know why the cloud — which was supposed to help save money — has quickly gobbled up their budgets. Here are a few reasons:

Cloud budgets: People don’t know what they don’t know

Technological innovation looks toward the future, even when the future is hard to predict. Accordingly, more than half (58%) of the CIOs and CTOs said they have difficulty predicting future cloud needs, resulting in preemptive overspending despite maturing finops (cloud financial operations) capabilities.

Technology leaders do see the value in finops — 100% of them told us as much — but the question remains: which finops technology is best suited to the specific needs of an organization? Executives aren’t always sure. Despite the recognized value afforded by finops implementation, only 29% of CIOs and CTOs have what they consider a mature strategy in place that allows them to evolve and plan more efficiently from one year to the next. 

Money isn’t the only thing getting wasted in a cloud budget

Despite widespread reliance on cloud services, 58% of respondents reported that the hardest element of managing cloud costs was the initial search for a cloud offering that best matches their workload needs.

Those who work regularly with the cloud are probably aware of the all-too-common risk of over provisioning resources. In fact, 42% of CIOs and CTOs reported suboptimal resource utilization as the primary challenge they face when strategizing cloud use. This blend of redundant over provisioning, garnished with an inability to scale quickly in the face of shifting needs and circumstances, yields a bitter cocktail of wasted resources. 

It is no surprise, then, that the second and third-greatest cloud challenges were difficulties in justifying budget increases (34%) and difficulty in adhering to allocated cloud budgets (31%), respectively.

Keeping up with an abundance of moving parts

Budgets aren’t the only factor that leaders must be keenly aware of. 

According to 42% of survey respondents, the number one cloud priority before the pandemic was security investments, but with the financial blow that COVID-19 dealt to many organizations and the myriad of other concerns on these technologists’ minds in the wake of the pandemic, this has since dropped to fourth place (18%). The priorities that have risen in its stead are revenue-related, such as aligning the speed of IT delivery with the speed of business (25%), ensuring that compliance needs are met (22%), and increasing direct revenues (20%).

However, among those using multicloud or a cloud-hybrid strategy, security is still the top priority (59%). CIOs are understandably averse to relying on a single vendor’s security protocols and feel their data is safer in a multi-cloud environment. Priority number two, close behind at 56%, is harnessing the technological advantages offered by specific cloud providers — for example, those that provide AI-integrated cloud capabilities — with cost efficiency reported as the third consideration (39%) when going multi or hybrid. 

These results suggest that choosing between budget, performance, and stability when constructing a cloud strategy is an ongoing issue.

At its best, the cloud is meant to alleviate companies and their employees of a slew of burdens, not add to the pile. But the technology’s ever-shifting landscape has brought us to a point where managing the cloud has become a burden unto itself. As we look towards the future of the cloud, identifying the origin of today’s storm is the first step in the search for tomorrow’s brighter skies.

Maxim Melamedov is the CEO and cofounder of Zesty.

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