If the technology community had anything to say about it, “cloud” might be the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year. Those of us who work in the SAP world generally hear this word at least once a day, along with one of its relatives such as “digital transformation,” or the latest phrase brought into our vocabulary by SAP, “intelligent enterprise.” Cloud technology is about as hot as it gets right now.

We’ve Had Our Heads in the Cloud

ASUG Research has done several studies over the past 12 months on issues related to the cloud, working with sponsors like Google, Microsoft, and Freudenberg IT. The ASUG community has helped us unearth quite a few insights, which we’d like to share with you. This information may validate the decisions you’ve already made about the cloud or helps you make more-educated decisions about your cloud use.

Here are 10 facts about cloud technology, as shared by SAP users.

Fact 1: Confidence in cloud providers is solid, but it could be even better. Six in 10 study participants are at least very confident in their providers, but another third are only somewhat confident. Executives/C-level participants are more optimistic about these providers than those at the managerial level.

Fact 2: The hybrid cloud is already the new normal. Among the ASUG members we surveyed, 53 percent are using both private and public cloud technology. This number gets even higher among the veterans in the cloud (those who have more than three years of cloud experience).

Fact 3: The public and private cloud are used for different workloads. Workloads based on a software as a service (SaaS) approach (for example, travel and expenses, HR/payroll, or CRM) are twice as likely to be deployed on a public cloud. Finance and core ERP workloads, if they are on the cloud at all, are migrated to a private cloud 75 to 80 percent of the time.

Fact 4: The data warehouse/analytics workload is vital to migrating the ERP and finance systems to the cloud. Nearly 70 percent of those with finance and/or ERP systems on the cloud have already deployed their data warehouse there as well. This is not surprising, given that these two systems house large volumes of data that would benefit from real-time analytics.

Fact 5: Companies are investing $100,000-$500,000 in cloud services annually. Those with more experience in the cloud are spending more than this, likely because they have more workloads deployed in the cloud. Still, this is a good ballpark to determine if you’re paying too much for your cloud services.

Fact 6: The average company has already deployed two to five workloads in the cloud. The average company is also expecting to move an additional one to two workloads within the next 12 months, suggesting that confidence in the cloud is continuing to grow.

Fact 7: Security and cost are the two factors with the greatest impact on satisfaction with cloud services. Those who are more satisfied with their current cloud providers are significantly more likely to see security and cost as a benefit. Those less satisfied with their cloud service often see these two areas as challenges or threats to their business.

Fact 8: One of the biggest challenges for cloud users currently is the lack of integration support available. Aside from the variations in rules and practices across cloud providers, this is the single-biggest issue many cloud customers are facing. SaaS-based workloads may be easy to implement, yet integrating these is proving to be a far bigger challenge than many customers expect. And the market needs more integration partners in this space to keep up with the demand.

Fact 9: Freedom is a key motivator and driver of satisfaction when it comes to cloud security. Options such as bring your own key (BYOK) for encryption or being able to test the cloud environment when significant changes are made to security are highly correlated with satisfaction for cloud customers. With BYOK, customers with data on the cloud can manage and control their own encryption key.

Fact 10: The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is still a significant issue for those who have data in the cloud. Nearly all ASUG members we surveyed believe that the data they are running or storing on the cloud will be affected by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). As of early May, however, less than half of ASUG members we talked with had initiatives they were deploying to address these new requirements on time for the May 2018 implementation. It’s clear that customers need to be more aware of how this sweeping regulation will affect how they’re managing data.

What’s the Forecast for You?

There is still plenty to learn about the cloud, but hopefully these tips can help your company solidify its road map for its cloud journey. We have more cloud research in store, which we’ll gladly share with the SAP community. We know that learning from your peers can help you see your own future more clearly.

Interested in learning more about SAP in the cloud? Watch our cloud webcasts on demand.