Cloud adoption has grown to 90%, according to a survey by O'Reilly Media. Pictured: A visitor tries out a tablet next to a cloud computing and technology symbol at the 2013 CeBIT technology trade fair on March 5, 2013, in Hanover, Germany. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

A report on cloud adoption released by O’Reilly Media on Monday found cloud usage among respondents has grown to 90%, while 48% say they plan to migrate half or more of their apps to the cloud in 2022.

Some 30% of respondents in almost every industry sector said managing costs was the most important concern their organization had around new public cloud adoptions. Among respondents not currently using cloud computing, 19% said cost was the second-most-important concern, preceded only by 21% who said regulatory requirements were a major challenge with new cloud projects. 

"It’s a common misconception that cloud computing is inexpensive, and that’s simply not a reality at corporate scale," said Mike Loukides, vice president of content at O’Reilly. "It shouldn’t be a hindrance to adoption when you weigh the cost of migrating workloads to the cloud against possible outages and interruptions to service on traditional on-premises systems that can’t handle a heavy load or spike in traffic. This will become especially apparent for the retail industry as we approach the holiday shopping season."

The cost of migrating to the cloud may come as a surprise to some, said Pravin Kothari, executive vice president of SASE Products at Lookout. Kothari said while cloud providers have low-cost tiers, these aren’t feasible options for large-scale enterprises. For larger organizations, Kothari said they have to use the higher-tier cloud compute instances to support their business as they move more workloads to cloud-based infrastructure. 

“Interestingly, the report notes that compliance is no longer the most significant concern, but seeking out employees who possess cloud security skills is the priority” Kothari said. “Even highly regulated industries like finance and healthcare feel this way, which indicates that security is now top of mind for any organizations shifting to the cloud. It used to be that cloud strategy centered around maximizing compliance with a check-the-box view on security. However, with the number of significant cyberattacks that have happened recently, there has been a shift in that mindset and security is now the top priority.“

Aside from this most recent O’Reilly survey, it’s now become evident that cloud costs have been a major growing concern evidenced by the mushrooming of start-ups addressing this very issue, said Archie Agarwal, founder and CEO at ThreatModeler. Agarwal said it’s notable that these start-ups are focusing on simplifying the sheer complexity of cloud charges and trying to optimize them.

“One startup told me they were sent a 30-gigabyte CSV file detailing individual cloud charges line by line by one of their customers,” Agarwal said. “Another start-up formed by a Ph.D. mathematician is writing complex algorithms to try to optimize cloud charges for their customers. While there’s always the worry of lock-in and the feeling of sunk-cost fallacy with cloud costs at the enterprise level, most will recognize the enormous benefits it brings to the business and probably end up searching out help from these start-ups to optimize their costs in the future.”

Tim Wade, technical director, CTO Team at Vectra, said cost is certainly a factor keeping enterprises hybrid, with one foot in the future and the other in the datacenter, in part because it’s difficult to directly compare costs. 

“While it’s true that strictly as line-items for compute, economic buyers can feel some sticker shock, the justification starts to become more apparent when factors such as resiliency, availability, agility, and maintainability start to emerge as quantifiable costs or benefits,” Wade said. “Most likely, organizations will continue to find that some applications and services are most cost-effectively deployed into the cloud, while others are best managed in the more traditional sense. The degree to which an enterprise biases one way or the other will hinge on factors relevant to the scale, volatility, and their appetite to maintain an in-house IT army.”