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Cloud adoption trends: SSO adoption lagging

14 Jan 2020

Article by Bitglass CTO Anurag Kahol

The rate of cloud adoption worldwide has never been greater -  a recent report found that 86% of enterprises have deployed cloud-based tools.

As businesses migrate their data, apps and workloads, it is critical that cybersecurity is also front of mind.

Unfortunately, the same research found that only 34% of those who had adopted cloud-based solutions had implemented single sign-on (SSO), one of the most basic and critically important cloud security tools.

To understand more about the rate at which companies are deploying cloud services, the research team automatically collected and analysed cloud adoption details of over 138,000 companies.

This uncovered the adoption rates for popular SaaS apps, AWS infrastructure and single sign-on (SSO) solutions across various industries.

Overall, the study found that the percentage of organisations using the cloud continues to grow.

There are many reasons contributing to this reality, but at their heart is the fact that migrating enables organisations to remain competitive and keep pace with the ever-growing productivity and flexibility demands placed upon them by the market.

Adoption of cloud infrastructure

Organisations that use infrastructure as a service (IaaS) benefit in various ways; from mitigating the need for costly on-premises IT infrastructure, to being able to scale with the click of a button.

Looking at AWS and its position as market leader offers useful insight.

In 2019, the percentage of organisations using AWS reached 20%, reflecting a 43% increase from last year’s 14%.

AWS adoption is widespread and hasn’t been confined to any specific sector or market niche.

The IaaS platform is most popular in the technology sector at 32% adoption, but it is closely followed by media (28%), telecoms (27%), education (26%), and non-profit (20%).

Rise of cloud apps

Despite an early lead in the cloud productivity suite market, the adoption of Google’s G Suite has slowed down in the past several years.

Its 33% adoption rate in 2019 is only a slight increase over 2018’s 25%.

In contrast, Microsoft Office 365 reigns supreme as the cloud productivity suite of choice with 79% adoption in 2019.

The wider use of cloud applications has grown tremendously over the last year; for example, the adoption of Salesforce and Slack increased by 55% and 44%, respectively.

Looking at some key industries more closely, Education is a major user of cloud apps, adopting Office 365 (81%) and G Suite (59%) for student and faculty use.

Additionally, Salesforce (30%) and Okta (18%) were adopted the most by Education.

Finance was another leading adopter of Office 365 (82%), with healthcare close behind at 79%.

Cloud applications give organisations the ability to scale much more easily.

As such, it should come as no surprise that larger organisations have deployed cloud applications like Salesforce, Office365, G Suite, Box and Slack the most often.

However, the good news is that small and medium-sized companies aren’t too far behind when it comes to the adoption of many of these apps.

SSO adoption fails to keep pace

In light of regular news headlines about high-profile data breaches, it is clear that security simply isn’t as much of a priority as it needs to be.

To illustrate this point, consider SSO, which is a security tool that organisations employ in order to authenticate users that are attempting to access data in the cloud.

Scrutinising its adoption rates reveals some interesting insight.

While the percentage of companies deploying cloud applications has grown to 86%, SSO adoption is a mere 34% today.

However, tools like SSO are critical when it comes to protecting data in the cloud.

As such, the difference between cloud adoption and single sign-on usage should be far less significant.

With cloud adoption growing at an astonishing rate – from 24% to 86% over the past five years – employees have been able to work more efficiently and flexibly, allowing organisations to enhance their operations in various ways.

However, the need for data protection is more vital than ever, and security strategies that organisations are implementing must be shaped around a cloud-first environment.

Utilising the services of a cloud access security broker (CASB), for example, allows companies to embrace the benefits of the cloud without the risk of data leakage.

That’s going to be an important strategic choice as the momentum behind the cloud continues to push forward in the years ahead.