Kathy Gibson reports from Red Hat Summit – A move to cloud computing and open source solutions is underway as CIOs rethink their IT systems in the wake of the pandemic.

Jonathan Tullett, senior research manager: cloud/IT services at IDC South Africa & Sub-Saharan Africa, points out the CIOs are prioritising business continuity and the accessibility of business processes during 2020/21.

In this environment, cloud investment is increasing, with plenty of room for future growth.

Tullett points out that cloud software growth showed almost 30% year on year growth, while on-premise software revenue is just 1,4%.

“And we know there is a lot of headroom there,” he says. “We know CIOs are committed to multi-cloud deployment, and only 4% are using them today.”

Applications are still being deployed in a siloed approach, he adds, although we are seeing a shift to more integrated systems.

“Virtualisation is almost a given, with most CIOs using virtualisation in one form or another,” Tullett says. “API management is also pretty common.”

However, microservice, serverless computing, Kubernetes orchestration, Docker orchestration and Docker containerisation are less well represented.

“But as organisations shift to public cloud, we will start to see more and more of these tools used in production.

“So there is still a lot of work that needs to happen, but there is a lot of growth and energy going into cloud.”

When it comes to open source technologies being used by CIOs, networking tops the list at 51%, followed by databases at 47%, IT infrastructure or operations management at 46%, security at 38%, cloud management or deployment at 32%, big data and analytics at 31%, and application development at 29%.

Security risks (46%) and reliability of software (40%) are the biggest factors holding CIOs back from engaging more in open source technologies.

“These risks are not unrealistic concerns,” Tullett points out. “With any new technology there is a concern, not only about quality, but also compromises in support and longevity, or lack of contractual obligation.”

A lack of operational immediate support was cited by 37% or CIOs, followed by ensuring contractual responsibility (36%), lack of long term support or availability (34%), regulatory compliance requirements (32%), incompatibility with existing applications or infrastructure (30%), lack of skills within the organisation (28%), not perceiving or understanding the benefit of open source over commercial alternatives (27%), poor quality of code (23%), and insufficient documentation or training materials (23%).

Tullett says IDC offers CIOs a set of key pointers for investing in open source software.

“Demand the same enterprise grade support and service for open source software as you would form any other technology,” he says. “You shouldn’t treat them any differently – and don’t make any compromises.”

At the same time, CIOs are urged to demand the same openness and responsiveness in proprietary technology as you would in open source.

“As we move more into the cloud, and see more focus on integrating the infrastructure, it is very important to integrate and orchestrate products.

“In fact, I would exclude solutions that don’t include API support.”

CIOs need to thing long-term and short-term simultaneously, Tullett adds. “Look at solving today’s problems with tomorrow’s tools. And build with integration, automation and intelligence in mind.”

He advises that CIOs aim for mature cloud usage beyond lift-and-shift, rather refactoring and building bridges between silos.

At the same time, they are urged to target aggressive but measurable business outcomes as objectives, something that can only be done in close alignment with technology partners.”