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London – 5 July, 2016 – Cloud computing adoption is not universally driven by the need to reduce IT costs, and neither is it causing a widespread reduction in the size of IT teams, according to new research released today by Six Degrees Group (“6DG”), the converged technology infrastructure provider.

Contrary to the industry marketing hype, the study, conducted for 6DG by IT industry analyst firm Freeform Dynamics, revealed that only 15% of respondents were motivated purely by cost savings when adopting cloud technology. 31% said balancing cost management and value was their priority, while 23% were concerned primarily with value.

Cloud is actually being delivered against a wide range of objectives, from responsiveness to change, through management of service levels and IT related risks, to making better use of external resources and generally getting the most from suppliers. IT departments using cloud more extensively are also refocusing internal resources away from routine tasks towards more specialist skills and tasks that enhance business performance.

Few IT teams are shrinking, despite increasing cloud adoption

Reports of cloud-driven shrinkage of IT teams are exaggerated. Over the last three years, only 6% of respondents reported some decrease in the size of their IT teams. In contrast, over 70% reported their IT teams had seen ‘some’ increase or a ‘significant’ increase in staff levels.

Over the next three years, while respondents are expecting a net increase in the size of IT teams overall, the growth rates are slowing (45% indicating growth, with only 7% within this expecting a significant increase).

However, there is a shift in the profile of IT teams, which coincides with the adoption of cloud computing.  The number of respondents declaring that at least half of their IT teams are made up of ‘generalists’ falls dramatically as the use of cloud goes up.  This suggests that the need for generalist IT staff to take care of routine operations (provisioning, patching, etc), decreases rapidly with cloud adoption. Emphasis is switching to more specialist skills such as architecture, design, security, information management and line-of-business applications.

“These mythbusting findings show that cloud adoption and its impact is a much more sophisticated spectrum of cause and effect than many had previously thought,” commented Campbell Williams, Group Strategy and Marketing Director at Six Degrees.  “At the same time we are also seeing increased reliance on cloud service providers, which means more will be expected of them.  Almost all of the respondents said that providers who aggregate multiple services into a single integrated solution have a key role to play. For their part, service providers need to understand how to engage with highly-skilled in-house teams much more effectively than many have done so in the past.”

Williams continues: “There are two key, inter-linked, correlations here: firstly, the most successful IT departments are using cloud infrastructure and platforms more extensively; and secondly, they are leveraging this to be more specialised to help create better business outcomes in an increasingly digital world. It is critical that a cloud journey doesn’t just enable delivery of the same workloads in a new way; it must facilitate transformative technology adoption to power new working practices and business models.”

Cloud, hosted and managed services now a mainstream reality

The research confirms the assertion that cloud is becoming an integral part of IT delivery, with momentum continuing to build.  Over 96% of respondents indicated some level of use (20% extensive, 52% significant, 24% modest).  And cloud adoption levels are increasing steadily in 56% of respondents and rapidly for 18%.  Less than 1.5% reported any level of decrease in their use of cloud.

Tony Lock, Distinguished Analyst at Freeform Dynamics, commented: “In the early part of the cloud market, providers often delivered their services in a largely hands-off manner. This may remain appropriate in the context of some requirements, but today, where converged services make more sense, customers are making a broader commitment to individual providers. Those providers must be willing to get involved with the customer’s environment. The spirit to strive for is one of a peer-to-peer partnership.”

Key research findings include:

  • Only 15% of respondents are motivated purely by cost savings when adopting cloud technology.
  • 31% said cost management was important when adopting cloud, but so too was the delivery of more value to the business. 23% were concerned primarily with value.
  • In the last three years, only 6% of respondents reported some decrease in the size of their IT teams.
  • Over 70% reported their IT teams had seen ‘some’ increase or a ‘significant’ increase in staff levels.
  • During the next three years, 45% expect their IT teams to grow in size, with only 7% within this expecting a significant increase.
  • Over 95% of respondents indicated some level of cloud use (20% extensive, 52% significant, 24% modest).

Download our full report here.