Cloud computing is a powerful enabler of growth and innovation. It provides access to the advanced infrastructure needed to run sophisticated applications, and the flexibility of increasing or decreasing capacity to meet a business’ demands. In conjunction with the internet of things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI), cloud computing is already revolutionising the way businesses work as well as the manner in which customers interact with brands. Migrating to the cloud is fast becoming key to business success.
South African organisations need to consider many variables when making the decision on when to move to the cloud. Issues including legacy infrastructure, the cost of migrating, trust and the security of data mean that businesses must choose the right partners with the requisite expertise and experience in order to enable the right cloud strategy if and when they embark on this journey.
Avoiding the cloud comes with hidden costs
When it comes to storing and protecting data, many organisations in South Africa are still choosing to make use of their current infrastructure, especially if they have recently made a large ICT investment. These organisations often believe that sweating their assets is the most cost-effective way to manage their information. While this might be true in the short-term, it could lead to some long-term hidden costs which they might not have planned for.
The first cost entails having to constantly play catch up to an ever-changing technology ecosystem. Cost implications of having to invest and reinvest in technology as it evolves and getting ahead of the technology curve can prove to be difficult, especially for a non-core IT business. Whereas investing in new technology, like cloud, means always having the latest technology at your fingertips and could save organisations money in the long-run.
Another hidden cost centre involves threats from a cybersecurity perspective. Analysts believe that in the future, onsite data will be more prone to attacks than hosted data since cloud providers will continue to invest heavily in perimeter and network protection. The same technologies that are driving advances are being used to plan attacks on data. The threat landscape is constantly evolving, and cybercriminals have enormous resources behind them.
Companies that store their data locally must invest more resources and money in developing the ability to respond to and recover from cyberattacks. The responsibility, and cost, of protecting data stored in the cloud sits with the service provider making migrating to the cloud an attractive option from a security point of view.
A hybrid approach – for now
In South Africa we are likely to see a step change in how companies move their information in the next few years. The first part of this evolution will be a hybrid approach. Many companies might find it more prudent, from a cost and efficiency perspective, to move certain workloads to fully cloud enabled and consumed, while keeping other legacy systems on-premise or hosted in a private cloud. However, this remains a short or, at most, medium-term solution.
Cloud computing in South Africa, as in the rest of the world, will be driven by the demands of hyperscale companies. Their requirements will drive the need for bigger and better data centres that are able to store and analyse enormous data sets effectively. There are currently seven multinationals driving the demand for hyperscale data storage – Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Alibaba, Facebook, Tencent and Baidu – and by the end of last year there were almost 400 hyperscale data centres globally. None of them were in South Africa but by the end of this year we will see at least three on local soil, making public cloud offerings a much more accessible solution for organisations.
All of this might seem daunting to businesses looking for secure and cost-effective ways to store their data and manage their applications but, if they identify the right service provider, navigating the world of cloud and computing should be easy. Research shows that cloud service providers are more adept at not only storing data but also securing it and providing additional value-added services like disaster recovery and back-up and enabling emerging technology services including machine learning and artificial intelligence. In the future, more and more companies will be born in the cloud. Organisations that want to remain relevant and interact economically will have to look at cloud computing in order to ensure interoperability, cost efficiency and high-end data security.
The need and speed to digitally transform
Using platform and software services provisioned through cloud providers makes it faster and simpler for businesses to embark on their digital transformation journeys. Often with pay-as-you-use PaaS and SaaS models, the barriers to reinvention become less risky and agility becomes more than a buzzword. The bottom line – organisations can try, fail and try again, without breaking the bank.
By Basha Pillay, Executive Head: Cloud and Collaboration at Internet Solutions