Enterprises have talked of divesting from their datacenters and moving application workloads—both testing and production—to the public cloud for at least a decade. It turns out this process is unfolding in two ways: gradually and then suddenly. Today, a majority (60.9%) of applications workloads are still in enterprise datacenters. However, it’s expected that in 2017 a tipping point will occur and fewer than half (46.2%) of workloads will remain 12 months from now. This rapid shift is partially due to new applications that are deployed in the public cloud, and because enterprises expect to migrate 20.7% of their existing applications running in datacenters to the public cloud during this time.

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By far, the primary driver for moving custom applications to public cloud infrastructure (68.9% of respondents) is the ability to scale workloads up and down on demand. The second most common driver is cost savings over maintaining a datacenter (56.1%). Public cloud offers companies a less expensive option when faced with large, costly datacenter upgrades. Rather than invest in new hardware, enterprises make the move to the cloud. Trailing at just 30.5% of respondents is the ability to shift from capital investments to an operating expenses model with a public cloud subscription. Finally, a small but significant 23.2% of enterprises move to the cloud to benefit from better security than their datacenter.

According to survey respondents, Amazon Web Services is the most popular public cloud infrastructure platform, comprising 41.5% of application workloads in the public cloud. While Amazon has long been viewed as the dominant provider of public cloud infrastructure, Microsoft Azure is gaining ground quickly. Azure currently holds 29.4% of the installed base measure by application workloads. Google Cloud Platform trails with 3.0% of application workloads followed by IBM SoftLayer, Rackspace, and a long tail of providers that comprise another 20.7% of the market. The scope of long tail provider usage is surprising, and may indicate the market is still at an early stage of maturity.

A sizable majority of enterprises (72.7%) have business-critical custom applications—defined as an application that, if it experienced downtime, would significantly impact the organization’s ability to operate. Consider the example of an airline that has developed an application in house that calculates flight plans before planes take off. The company cannot operate if their flight path application goes down because planes are grounded. Or take the example of a custom application developed by a rental car company to enable representatives to accept reservations over the phone. Their business stops if the application goes down.

These business-critical custom applications are increasingly deployed in the public cloud; 46.1% are either fully deployed in the public cloud or in a hybrid public/private cloud and IT security professionals have incomplete visibility into their deployment and operations.

Perhaps one reason why enterprises have rapidly moved these applications out of the datacenter to the public cloud is that, generally speaking, they view public cloud providers as being secure. A majority of respondents (62.9%) say the public cloud is as secure or more secure than their own datacenter. However, custom applications are still exposed to a wide range of threats and enterprise customers, not cloud providers, are responsible for them.