South Africa’s journey to the cloud – where are we now?
Nov 28th, 2018

By Gerhard Fourie, District Channel Manager for South Africa at Commvault

Cloud is a key driver when it comes to digital transformation. By radically reducing the total cost of ownership (TCO) and time to market for new solutions, cloud has disrupted out-dated IT models. Cloud’s ease of use and accessibility has changed the way businesses make decisions about software purchasing, access, and usage. In addition, major cloud providers on the cusp of establishing local data centres. With the pending introduction of hyperscale cloud on our shores, this has many businesses fast tracking their cloud strategies in order to take advantage.

However, are South African cloud providers ready for the demand; to meet the requirements of organisations who are already well on the road to digital transformation? And are they ready to hold their own against the competition when international cloud brands have local presences?

Are cloud providers ready for the demand?

We’ve seen a surge of cloud providers either building their own platforms or leveraging those of larger cloud providers to develop their own applications. This ecosystem created by larger cloud providers has enabled smaller cloud providers to get to market with considerable speed, allowing them to resell or build their own services easily.

In addition, several large Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system vendors have moved their offerings to the cloud, encouraging businesses to migrate. Taking all of this into consideration, it would be appropriate to say that it looks like cloud providers are ready for the demand of cloud.

But if the demand is being met, are all businesses ready for the cloud?

Though cloud providers have made efforts and prepared for the demand of cloud, some businesses still find themselves standing beside the pool. Meanwhile other businesses have jumped in head first and others have at the very least dipped their toes in the water.

For instance, larger businesses with massive customised environments are finding it harder to make the move to the cloud, as the level of modernisation and environment changes are creating complexity which takes time to work around. For this reason, a substantial number of large organisations are either still retaining their on-premise solutions or have embraced a hybrid model, slowly moving their systems across, piece by piece.

Smaller businesses, though, are typically less customised and far more agile. As a result, they are either able to transition more easily or, for the newer businesses, have built their businesses in the cloud entirely.

What’s the hold up?

Inhibitive data and connectivity costs are still a big barrier to full cloud adoption, especially for businesses that have multiple branch, large scale operations. Even with large cloud providers becoming local, and removing other common obstacles such as data sovereignty, data costs may still prove a hindrance.

There is a very real fear of change that keeps businesses from making the shift. Lack of information – or, in many cases, misleading information – on the cloud, migration challenges, and how to move around them, is still a concern. Businesses need to ensure they are engaging with cloud providers that understand the challenges and benefits and are able to work with them to identify their unique requirements and provide solutions specific to that.

Another deterrent to cloud migration is the perceived lack of security around cloud.

Businesses are still unsure as to where their responsibility ends and the cloud providers begins. While cloud providers have to make it their business to secure their customer’s data and provision for the best possible security, it is still the business’s responsibility to ensure their own data is secure. It’s critical that they assess their own security requirements as well as that of their cloud provider, and ensure they are aligned.

There are many services offered by cloud players where migration is making sense, however, and hybrid cloud solutions are becoming increasingly popular for the likes of data storage and management, backup-as-a-service, and ancillary services such as analytics-as-a-service, etc.

Forging ahead

Although businesses are hindered by the fear of moving to the cloud and endless questions around security – digital transformation is absolutely essential. The new generation of customers are paperless and demand an elevated customer experience. The cloud really is an enabler for transformation and opens up the possibilities for deploying effective IoT solutions, AI developments and more. Organisations who cannot keep up with the trends and who do not embrace a digital platform are likely to fall behind and, ultimately, become extinct.

However, businesses need to work with cloud providers who are open, honest and who become partners in the truest sense of the word. A cloud provider who is able to outline the benefits while also delineating the challenges and how to work together to resolve them, becomes more than a service provider: they become a partner.

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