Cloud is changing business continuity industry

“The growing move to cloud computing has the potential to change the way not only that companies implement business continuity and disaster recovery, but also the way that they see it,” says Chantel Lindeman, Frost & Sullivan’s Business Unit Leader for ICT Africa. Lindeman recently presented Frost & Sullivan research into cloud computing and its impact on business continuity to delegates at the launch of the new SAP disaster recovery offering from ContinuitySA and Britehouse.

Frost & Sullivan predicts that the worldwide cloud market will grow from $41 billion in 2011 to more than $241 billion by 2020. However, adoption rates are currently slower than expected because vendors have yet to turn those unconvinced by the cloud value proposition (37%, according to 2011 research) into believers. In addition, 40% of respondents said they had either never heard of infrastructure as a service or were not very familiar with the concept. Lindeman notes that the believers (22%) still remain worried about security.

In South Africa, says Lindeman, cloud dominates discussions and the media but adoption rates are low. Frost & Sullivan research indicates that the local market understands infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and can see its effects on the bottom line—consequently, this sector is showing steady growth. By contrast, software as a service remains a niche market at present.

“Platform as a service (PaaS) is new to the South African market but, in my view, that is the one to watch over the next five years,” Lindeman says. “PaaS underpins the real value that the cloud model can offer businesses looking to reduce costs and become more agile, and once the market understands that, we will see strong growth.”

The key driver of the cloud market in South Africa continues to be the evolution of the data centre environment, with virtualisation the key technology development. Companies are used to outsourcing their data centre requirements, and this trend has penetrated the small to medium-sized enterprise market as business struggles to keep up with new technology and respond to energy insecurity.

“These data centres have traditionally offered disaster recovery and business continuity services, and the growth of virtualisation and cloud-based storage is changing the model dramatically,” says Lindeman. This change will, she says, hold back the continued growth in traditional disaster recovery services and is already influencing the offerings of the market leaders, such as ContinuitySA, which has the biggest market share (21%) by some margin.

Lindeman says that business continuity has always been a grudge purchase because its business case has always been based on negative factors. “Much like eating your vegetables, you know you have to back up your data,” she observes. “However, as disaster recovery moves into the cloud, that reality is changing and customers can now benefit from real-time information-sharing whilst achieving the cost benefits of scale.”

Justin Lord, general manager, Hosting Services at ContinuitySA, concurs. “Our ability to use virtualised storage and processing power to offer business continuity/ disaster recovery as a service is changing the equation,” he explains. “It’s helping CIOs to move business continuity off their balance sheets to become a pure operational expense, and it’s also making that dedicated processing and storage capacity available for the production environment as well. In this way, the disaster recovery capability can also make a positive contribution to the company during the 99% of the time it is not being used for its primary purpose.

“The one thing that is holding companies back from wholesale adoption of this continuity-as-a-service model is the availability of cheap bandwidth. Once that has been sorted out, we will really begin to see the power of this model.”

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Cloud is changing business continuity industry