Chairman of the Board of Directors
A Look at the State of the Cloud in 2019

A Look at the State of the Cloud in 2019

For the last eight years, RightScale has been carefully following developments in the global cloud computing industry, releasing its findings in an annual State of the Cloud report. The firm, now under the guidance of parent company Flexera, continued this trend in 2019 by surveying 786 IT specialists from enterprises and small and midsize businesses (SMBs) in industries ranging from technology services to health care.

These respondents represented organizations in all stages of cloud adoption. While some were still creating their initial cloud strategies prior to adoption, others possessed highly mature cloud models and were looking to further optimize their use of this platform. The 2019 State of the Cloud report thus gave RightScale a unique glimpse at the ways businesses of all sizes are using the cloud today and what they have planned for the future.

Here we explore some of the biggest highlights from the 2019 State of the Cloud report.

Cloud adoption has fallen overall

Between 2017 and 2018, RightScale identified that cloud adoption was on the rise. Both public and private clouds saw an increase of 3 percent during this time, bringing overall cloud adoption to 96 percent of respondents in the annual survey.


By 2019, however, the number of organizations relying on private and public clouds fell to 94 percent. From the previous year, public cloud adoption fell by 1 percent. Private cloud use tumbled 3 percent to its 2017 levels.

Interestingly enough, public cloud has risen to the forefront of cloud priorities, shuffling hybrid cloud into second place. Seventeen percent of organizations are also making both private and public models a priority going forward, which could encourage a future surge in cloud adoption.

Multi-cloud strategies are in demand

Of the organizations that are using cloud services, the majority are making the multi cloud their priority. In 2019 84 percent of enterprise respondents to the RightScale survey say that they have a multi-cloud strategy, up from 81 percent the year prior. Of this total, fewer organizations are prioritizing a cloud environment with more than one private or public strategy. At 58 percent, the hybrid strategy has become the more popular method for deploying a multi-cloud solution.

The multi cloud isn’t quite as popular among SMBs; just 61 percent currently rely on this cloud strategy. These organizations have shifted more toward the public cloud, decreasing their use of multi-cloud services by 3 percent in the process. Today, 44 percent of SMBs rely on one or more public clouds for their cloud needs. Those who do still use the multi cloud have also turned much of their focus toward hybrid cloud computing, which rose by 4 percent from 2018.

Overall, enterprise and SMB organizations are working within an average of nearly five clouds. Respondents report an average use of 3.4 private and public clouds (in combination), and experimenting with 1.5 more.

Cloud spending remains a central focus—and a big problem

Cloud spending is one trend that has not seen much change since the 2018 State of the Cloud report. As public cloud use surges, organizations are diverting more and more spending toward cloud resources. Twenty-three percent of respondents to the 2019 survey reported that they spend $2.4 million or more per annum on public cloud alone. When looking at enterprises and SMBs separately, there is enormous variation in the level of spending between these two types of organizations.


Fifteen percent of enterprises are spending between $2.4 and $12 million on the public cloud every year, with an additional 13 percent exceeding $12 million in spend. This is in stark contrast to SMBs, which rarely see more than $1 million in annual spend. In fact, the majority (51 percent) are spending less than $120,000 per year on the public cloud, while just 27 percent spend $600,000 each year.

It comes as no surprise that respondents identified “managing cloud spend” as one of their most significant cloud challenges in 2019. This issue surpassed security to take the top spot this year, with 84 percent of enterprises and 69 percent of SMBs reporting difficulties with this issue.

Adopters face a slew of other challenges

Managing cloud spend isn’t the only major challenge that cloud adopters are facing in 2019. Governance, which was the fourth greatest cloud challenge in 2018, has surged in the last year and tied with spending as the number one cloud challenge for enterprises. Fifty-four percent of respondents identified governance as “somewhat of a challenge,” while 25 percent found it to be a “significant challenge” for their organizations.

For SMBs, their biggest cloud challenge involves the lack of relevant cloud experience and resources to manage their environments. From 2018 to 2019, the number of respondents reporting this as a challenge rose by a staggering 9 percent. Among both SMBs and enterprises, insufficient expertise and resources is the challenge that most organizations (27 percent) identified as “significant.”

Security also remains a concern among cloud adopters, with 77 percent of respondents identifying it as at least somewhat of a challenge for their organizations. However, as issues with governance and managing cloud costs have surged since 2018, security has fallen in the ranks to become the fourth most pressing cloud challenge overall.