Carla Arend (Lead analyst European Cloud Research)

Deciding on a suitable cloud strategy is a critical first step on a successful cloud journey. Cloud strategy options range from “cloud first” over “cloud also” to “best fit” or “no cloud” and I have observed some interesting developments over the past couple of years.

While “cloud first” has been propagated as the one and only proper cloud strategy for some time, mainly by US-based cloud providers, it does not resonate well with most European organizations. Many find “cloud first” too inflexible and dogmatic and a “cloud first” strategy has led them to put the wrong workloads into the cloud, which they are now pulling back again to a hosted or on-premise infrastructure. Only a quarter of European organizations have a cloud first approach today, and this is down from last year.

Many European organizations are taking a pragmatic approach to cloud and use cloud where it makes sense. “Cloud first” strategies have a place, and they make most sense when organizations are moving from a “no cloud” strategy into the cloud. “Cloud first” strategies can be useful for a certain period of time, roughly 6 months to a year, to drive a mindset change in an organization: they can force people to consider cloud in every decision and test the feasibility of cloud for every new workload, to open their minds to the new possibilities that cloud offers.

However, once cloud has been accepted as a part of the toolbox and a viable alternative to on-premise IT delivery models, the more practical “Cloud also” approach can be introduced, where cloud is evaluated in every decision as a viable alternative, but is not a given as the final destination for every workload. “Cloud also” is currently the most popular cloud strategy with one third of European organizations. When they need new functionality or capacity, they will evaluate cloud solutions alongside an on-premise or hosted option.

With increasing cloud maturity, European organizations generally adopt a “best fit” strategy, where they put a solid governance model in place to determine the appropriate destination for each workload based on a set of internal rules and requirements. The “best fit” approach has more than doubled in popularity from last year – a clear sign of accelerated cloud maturity of European organizations.

European organizations have taken longer to reach mainstream adoption of cloud because they are taking more time to thoroughly test the solutions and get the operational and governance models right. Now that they have established the rules, regulatory compliance requirements, and internal governance processes, they are ready to accelerate their cloud journeys and move forward with a solid selection approach in place. On-premise private clouds still play a key role, but multiple public cloud services are increasingly becoming part of the mix.

Cloud service providers need to update their go-to-market messages to accommodate “cloud also” and “best fit” approaches to resonate with a European cloud buyer audience. Blindly pushing a “cloud first” mantra will only resonate with one quarter of European organizations.

Choice of cloud strategy is a key differentiator between European and US-based organisations and one indicator for why cloud adoption follows a different pattern in Europe. More details around the differences in cloud adoption between European and US-based organizations will be analyzed in a forthcoming report. The observed differences of cloud strategy choice are based on the analysis of 1350 interviews in IDC’s 2018 European CloudView survey.

For more details, watch our on-demand webcast – Why Cloud Adoption is Different in Europe? hosted by Carla Arend and Angela Vacca where they debunk this myth and provide proof points about why customer journeys to the cloud actually follow a different pattern in Europe.

For more research on cloud trends in Europe, please check out the European cloud strategies CIS.