Nov 21, 2019

Survey: How Do IT Leaders Grade Their Data Center and Cloud Infrastructure Strategies?

Laura Vietmeyer, Managing Editor

We’re still merely entering the hybrid and multicloud era of information technology, but according to new survey research from INAP, the transformation is about to hit warp speed, a trend we see continuing in our latest survey. Nearly 9 in 10 organizations with on-premise data centers plan to move at least some of their workloads off-premise into cloud, managed hosting or colocation in the next three years.

As more companies diversify their infrastructure mix, how confident are IT leaders and managers that they’re taking the right approach?

For INAP’s second annual installment of the State of IT Infrastructure Management survey, we asked 500 IT leaders and infrastructure managers to assess their data center and cloud strategies, assign a letter grade and give us their thoughts on why they chose a particular rating.

How do the grades stack up among participants? What factors are most closely associated with A-grade infrastructures? And why do some infrastructure strategies fall short?

Making the Grade in the Hybrid IT and Multicloud Era


Instead of the classic bell curve so many of us were subject to during our years in academia, most of the IT infrastructure management professionals say their infrastructure strategy deserves an above average grade, with the majority—56.3 percent of respondents—giving their infrastructures a B. Roughly 19 percent think they deserve a C or below. While the results can be read as a vote of confidence for multiplatform, hybrid cloud and multicloud strategies, most respondents say there’s still plenty room for improvement: Only 1 in 4 participants (25.2 percent) gave their infrastructure strategies an A.

Factors Most Associated with A-Grade Infrastructure

Still, it’s worth asking: What factors distinguish A’s from the rest of the crowd?

Four groups in the data, regardless of company size, industry and headcount, are strongly correlated with high marks:

Off-Premise Migrators

A’s have a significantly smaller portion of their workloads on-premise (30 percent of workloads, on average) compared to C’s and below (45 percent).

Colocation Customers

Thirty-one percent of IT pros who have colocation as part of their infrastructure mix give themselves an A. This is six points higher than the total population.

Cloud Diversifiers

For companies already in the cloud, those who only host with public cloud platforms (AWS, Azure, Google) are less likely to give themselves A’s than those who adopt multicloud platform strategies—18 percent vs. 29 percent, respectively.

Managed Services Super Users

The more companies rely on third parties or cloud providers to fully manage their hosted environments (up to the application layer), the more likely they are to assign their infrastructure strategy an A. The average share of workloads fully managed: A’s (71 percent), B’s (62 percent), C’s (54 percent).

Why Some IT Infrastructures Strategies Fall Short

Click to view full-size image.

From the above results, no single explanation for why strategies did not earn top marks were selected by a fewer than a fifth of respondents, but two clearly lead the pack:

  • Infrastructure not fully optimized for applications
  • Too much time managing and maintaining the infrastructure

The first leading factor speaks to a simultaneous benefit and challenge of the multicloud and hybrid IT era. It’s more economical than ever to find a mix of infrastructure solutions that match the needs of individual workloads and applications. The flip side to that benefit is the simple fact that adopting new platforms can quickly lead to environment sprawl and raise the complexity of the overall strategy—making the goal of application optimization a tougher bar to clear.

The second leading factor—improper time allocation—underscores a central theme of IT infrastructure management that will be discussed in greater depth in a future blog.

Senior Leaders vs. Non-Senior IT Pros

As previously noted, only 1 in 4 participants gave their infrastructure strategies an A. That number falls to 1 in 8 (12.6 percent) if we remove senior IT leaders from the mix. Non-senior infrastructure managers are also two times more likely to grade their infrastructure strategy a C. In other areas of the State of IT Infrastructure Management survey, senior leaders generally held a more optimistic outlook, and the infrastructure grades were no exception.

Why might this be? We can only speculate, but senior leaders may be loath to give a low grade to a strategy they had a large part in shaping. Or perhaps it’s that non-senior leaders deal with more of the day-to-day tasks associated with infrastructure upkeep and don’t feel as positive about the strategy. Whatever the reason, these two groups are not seeing eye to eye.

Strategizing to Earn the A-Grade

When considering solutions—be it cloud, colocation and/or managed services—a lesson or two can be taken from those A-grade infrastructure strategies, and maybe from the C’s and below, as well.

If you’re ready to level-up your strategy, but unsure where to start, INAP can help. We offer high-performance data center, cloud, network and managed services solutions that will earn your infrastructure strategy an A+.

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About Author

Laura Vietmeyer

Managing Editor

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