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As 2016 comes to a close and we look to the new year, we were keen to hear from Red Hat customers about their plans for 2017, including their top initiatives, cloud deployment strategies, and plans for innovative technologies. To gather these insights, we surveyed 268 Red Hat customers from six industries and 13 countries. Respondents came from across the globe, and spanned a wide variety of organizations, from large enterprises and Fortune and Global 500 companies to small businesses.

Last year’s survey revealed some areas of increasing strategic focus (private cloud, DevOps, big data, mobile and IoT initiatives), and reinforced the unsurprising need for IT to do more with less. The Red Hat Global Customer Tech Outlook 2017 built on these results, and highlighted respondents’ mindshift towards responding to - or creating their own disruption - by not only using digital capabilities to create new business models, services, or products, but also embracing the culture and process changes often required to successfully do so.

Here’s what we learned from the Red Hat Global Customer Tech Outlook 2017:

Digital transformation is real. Most respondents are on the digital transformation journey and trying to shift their investments to modern infrastructure and applications. The majority are either planning to move to a new business model or introduce new products or services to aid in digital transformation projects in next 12 months (37%) or currently developing their strategy (33%).

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2017 is the year of the cloud. Cloud hype could meet cloud reality in 2017, with cloud infrastructure cited by a majority of respondents (70%) as their planned focus for investment in 2017. While funding for cloud infrastructure is a clear priority in 2017, security (cited by 50% of respondents as a top IT funding priority) and management (48%) remain key investments to keep it all under control.

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Despite these plans, overall cloud strategy remains a challenge. Cloud strategy rose as the greatest expected challenge in 2017 (cited by 52% of respondents). Other top challenges include the need to build new applications more quickly (42%), optimizing and modernizing existing IT (39%), and security (38%).

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Private, hybrid, and multi-cloud strategies are a focus. Survey results show us that an increasing percentage of Red Hat customers surveyed have figured out their cloud strategies over the past 12 months and the strategies they are choosing are predominantly private, self-managed (38%) and hybrid (30%) cloud. Sixteen percent (16%) of respondents report that they are still developing their cloud infrastructure strategy (down 10% from 2016). Only 3% of respondents say that their organizations will have a public cloud strategy.

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Multi-cloud strategies are hot. While hybrid cloud has been a reality for some time, respondents are now going beyond hybrid coordination to workload portability across clouds, using multi-cloud strategies for their apps. More than half of the respondents are already using or planning to deploy their apps to two or more clouds concurrently to add resiliency, with 30% of respondents reporting that their organizations already employ a multi-cloud strategy, and another 29% planning to use one.

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DevOps and agile development processes are leading priorities as respondents aim to achieve innovation at a faster speed. DevOps (54%) and agile (63%) are the top cultural and process change areas these customers hope to focus on in 2017.

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For existing IT (traditional infrastructure and apps), respondents remained focused on delivering more with less. While cost is still a huge pressure (63% of respondents identify reducing costs as a top goal), respondents are working to accelerate service delivery (60%), improve performance (53%), and add more self-service capabilities (49%), helping to bridge traditional and modern apps.image

As we reviewed the results, a few key things surprised us:

Respondents hope to move investment in traditional (legacy) IT from nearly 79% today to just 21%—in 2 years. While this may be a goal as organizations look to develop and deploy modern apps, we believe few companies will be able to move this quickly in 24 months. While perhaps optimistic, respondents hope to move their heavy investments in optimizing existing IT from 79% today to just 21% in 2 years, shifting their investments into developing and deploying modern applications. Of note, respondents plan to maintain a strong investment in software-defined storage.

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Nearly 10% of respondents have report no current plans for digital transformation initiatives. Across industries, digital services and new approaches are challenging business models, making this a bit of a surprise.

Security and compliance continue to appear as one of the top 5 challenges, investment areas, and areas of focus –but are not priority #1. We believe this is because companies know they can’t stop these investments, but they also have to start thinking more about innovation, new cloud infrastructure, and modern applications and technologies.

Shadow IT, for all its hype, appears to be a concern of the past: We believe this aligns with the digital transformation goals of bringing IT and business together.

We’ve pulled together an infographic on the results of the Red Hat Global Customer Tech Outlook 2017 here (download a larger version here):

Methodology

Red Hat conducted an online survey in September and October 2016 using TechValidate of a pool of Red Hat customers about their tech priorities and insights moving into 2017. Respondents were from Canada; France; Germany; India; Israel; Malaysia; Mexico; Poland; Singapore; Switzerland; Turkey; the United Kingdom; and the United States. The largest percentage of respondents were from Global 500 organizations (67.9%), with the remaining respondents from large enterprises (5,000+ associates) (26.9%); Fortune 500 (4.5%); and small business (0.7%) organizations. Respondents represented the following industries: banking (34.3%); telecommunications services (32.5%); financial services (20.5%); telecommunications equipment (8.2%); healthcare (3.0%); and retail (1.5%).