Multi-cloud by the numbers: 11 interesting stats

How widely are organizations using multiple cloud services? How will that trend evolve? How do containers and Kubernetes fit in? Let’s dig into the data about multi-cloud
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If you boil our recent dive into interesting stats about Kubernetes down to its bottom line, it looks something like this: Kubernetes’ popularity will continue for the foreseeable future.

Spoiler alert: When you dig up recent numbers about multi-cloud usage, they tell a similar story: Adoption is soaring.

This congruity makes sense. Perhaps not every organization will use Kubernetes to manage its multi-cloud and/or hybrid cloud infrastructure, but the two increasingly go hand-in-hand. Even when they don’t, they both reflect a general shift toward more distributed and heterogeneous IT environments, as well as cloud-native development and other overlapping trends.

[ Read also: Kubernetes by the numbers: 13 compelling stats ]

The multi-cloud approach is also shifting from ad hoc to intentional in more companies. Amir Jerbi, CTO and cofounder at Aqua Security, summed this up well for us recently: “Multi-cloud has become a strategic initiative for many enterprises, large and small.”

Jerbi continues. “As the first wave of public cloud (IaaS) adoption is maturing, organizations are realizing that they do not want to become overly dependent on a single cloud provider, and also that on an ongoing basis there are varying degrees of efficiency that can be achieved by utilizing multiple cloud vendors and shifting workloads as necessary.”

Multi-cloud statistics

Let’s take a look at 11 stats (and then some) that illuminate this increasingly pervasive IT strategy and how it connects with other technologies.

$32.4 billion: For some big-picture context, this was the worldwide total amount spent on IaaS – sometimes referred to as public cloud – in 2018, according to Gartner’s recently released data.

31.3 percent: That global market figure represents a 31.3 percent increase from the $24.7 billion spent in 2017, also according to Gartner.

81 percent of public cloud users choose two or more providers, says Gartner data.

81 percent: The percentage of public cloud users who reported using two or more providers, according to another Gartner survey. Much has been made of the “cloud wars” and the top-heavy nature of the IaaS market – the top five IaaS providers accounted for 77 percent of that global IaaS market, according to Gartner. This is also an apparent driver in multi-cloud adoption.

“Most organizations adopt a multi-cloud strategy out of a desire to avoid vendor lock-in or to take advantage of best-of-breed solutions,” Gartner VP analyst Michael Warrilow says in a recent Smarter with Gartner post. “We expect that most large organizations will continue to willfully pursue this approach.”

$183 billion: The approximate amount spent worldwide on public cloud services in 2018, according to IDC. Wondering why it’s so much larger than the Gartner number? IDC’s market figure rolls up software-as-a-service (SaaS) and platform-as-a-service (PaaS) spending with IaaS in its total, while the former includes only IaaS spending.

$500 billion: IDC in July 2019 predicted that global spending on public cloud services (again including IaaS, SaaS, and PaaS) will approach $500 billion in 2023. If the forecast bears out, that would mean that spending will more than double from the $229 billion IDC estimates will be spent this year.

Security of workloads and portability rank as top concerns.

83 percent: The percentage of respondents in Turbonomic’s 2019 State of Multicloud report who said they believe that workloads will eventually move freely between clouds. Of note, the ability to ensure the security of those workloads across platforms (24 percent) and the ability for applications and data to be fully portable (23 percent) are considered the top two challenges to that freedom of movement in multi-cloud environments. However, the overwhelming majority of IT pros surveyed for the report expect those challenges to be solved, with just 17 percent indicating that they don’t think that will become an everyday reality.

[ Related read: Multi-cloud: 8 tactics for stronger security ]

43 percent: Containers and orchestration will play key roles in that increasing freedom of movement between environments, as will other cloud-native technologies and services. Some 43 percent of respondents in the Turbonomic report said they’ll be running containerized applications in production within 18 months, up from 26 percent today.

4: The median number of containerized apps running in these environments today. A general theme in the Turbonomic report: Expect numbers like these to grow rapidly, especially as different lines of business begin to realize the potential benefits of cloud-native development and multi-cloud approaches in relation to their specific goals. The firm says nearly two-thirds (62 percent) of the organizations it spoke with had begun their “journey” to cloud-native and containers, meaning they were at least in the first phase (“exploring”) of a five-stage adoption pattern.

More than half of firms running containers today are doing so in “hybrid mode.” 

53 percent: Here’s a stat that speaks to the connection between multi-cloud and hybrid cloud, the latter of which also includes on-premises infrastructure: More than half of firms running containers today are doing so in “hybrid mode,” according to StackRox’s State of Containers and Kubernetes Security Report, meaning they’re running them both on-premises and at least one cloud. (By most definitions, multi-cloud simply means consuming two or more cloud services from two or more providers. It can pair well with hybrid cloud, but the two terms aren’t actually synonymous.) That’s up from 40 percent in StackRox’s last survey, which was conducted just six months earlier.

[ Read our related article: Multi-cloud vs. hybrid cloud: What’s the difference? ]

23 percent: If you break down that previous number a bit further, 23 percent of IT pros in the StackRox report said they’re running containers both on-premises and in at least two cloud environments, meaning they’re both multi-cloud and hybrid cloud. That’s up from 14 percent just six months earlier.

86 percent: Finally, here’s a number that again reminds us that this isn’t a story about cloud usage but multi-cloud usage, increasingly as part of a hybrid cloud architecture. In the StackRox survey (released in July 2019), an astonishing 86 percent of the respondents said they’re now using Kubernetes in some form. (“In some form” reflects the diverse menu of commercial services built on top of the open source platform.)

Could that possibly reflect a survey sample that got an early start on the cloud-native journey? Perhaps, but even if that’s the case, it still points to an astonishing rise in adoption of the orchestration platform, a pattern that follows growing use of containers: In an earlier version of the same report released just six months ago, “only” 57 percent of respondents reported that they were using some form of Kubernetes.

[ Want to learn more about building cloud-native apps and containers? Get the whitepaper: Principles of container-based application design. ]

Kevin Casey writes about technology and business for a variety of publications. He won an Azbee Award, given by the American Society of Business Publication Editors, for his story, "Are You Too Old For IT?" He's a former community choice honoree in the Small Business Influencer Awards.