Cloud adoption in key African markets has grown phenomenally over the past few years.
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.
With many African organisations shifting from an on-premise environment, migrating to the cloud is more efficient than before.
According to Gartner, by 2020, 90 percent of organisations will adopt hybrid infrastructure management capabilities. Kevin Krige, Head of Datacentre and Cloud Service at BT in Africa shares some insights on managed services across hybrid clouds.
Krige says investing in hybrid clouds as a managed service provides the end-to-end visibility of the IT infrastructure, as well as the ability to configure optimal solutions for a business’s different lines of business or geographies – from IP address management to disaster recovery to cost optimisation. He says this ensures that the business can have the right network, security and operational processes in place to more efficiently manage its cloud solutions.
Why do organisations need to consider a managed service for hybrid clouds?
Cloud computing has been a top focus and trend for any business on a journey of digital transformation for some time now. In fact, today, the cloud is viewed as a critical enabler for enterprise IT delivery. And hybrid cloud is gaining popularity due to the fact that it offers businesses the flexibility, scalability and on-demand access to extra storage and compute resources of the public cloud, without sacrificing security, predictability and performance of local infrastructure.
However, it can become quite complex for a business to effectively manage multi-cloud environments. In order to deliver true multi-cloud benefits, the business needs new processes and people in place with the skills and experience across network, data centres and security. This talent is often difficult to find, not to mention retain.
What are the benefits of moving to the cloud?
Switching legacy systems for cloud collaboration is essential for keeping the workforce productive, operational costs at a minimum and the organisation successful in the digital age of today. However, there is no single cloud deployment model that is ideal for all business needs. Most companies are beginning to utilise a range of different public cloud services while simultaneously building private cloud infrastructures.
A hybrid cloud architecture, however, does provide a number of benefits for business and allows for easy integration of distinct cloud infrastructures and services – making it a catalogue of cloud services offering the business the opportunity to select the right cloud service delivery model for each application. It provides:
- Elasticity where a business needs it, either by relying on public cloud services for specific needs or by rapid scaling and rebalancing between different cloud infrastructures
- Robustness for mission-critical applications such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) applications
- Self-service to improve time to market and reduce service operations costs
- Economies of scale by relying on standard technologies, and
- It is an enabler for new business models that rely on ecosystems which go beyond the corporate boundaries
- It must be noted that the perfect cloud environment is one that allows easy and secure consumption of internal services and external solutions.
What does hybrid cloud adoption look like in Africa?
Despite the reality of many African companies still using legacy infrastructure such as on-premise data centres, the demand in the African market for cloud services continues to grow, given the scalability and cost benefits when moving to cloud. Some businesses are looking for a single cloud solution that offers them centralised management – while others are driven to hybrid and/or public cloud-based solutions. We believe that this highlights that businesses are recognising the value of cloud services while also feeling the pressure to embrace cloud as current infrastructure is struggling to support the adoption of digital technologies required to remain relevant and viable in the current market.
Hybrid cloud adoption is gaining traction in this regard, based on the following:
- Provides best of both worlds
Companies are looking to leverage the direct benefits of both a private and public cloud environment. In a hybrid cloud, companies can still leverage third-party cloud providers in either a full or partial manner. This increases the flexibility of computing. The hybrid cloud environment is also capable of providing on-demand, externally-provisioned scalability.
- Maximise performance
Today’s businesses are looking to be more flexible as the culture of the mobile office becomes more prevalent. There is a rising need to use the cloud to access systems, apps, and data remotely. However, high-performance business apps and developments, such as big data and artificial intelligence, need increasingly more data and computing capability. As such, a hybrid approach to multi-cloud and private environments is becoming an organisational must.
What regulatory and practical issues should businesses who wish to leverage the cloud in Africa consider?
Any business that is dealing with data and using the cloud to store and manage data must take into consideration the regulatory environment and stipulations in this regard. In South Africa, this includes the Protection of Personal Information (POPI) Act. Businesses need to have an understanding of the parameters that exist due to regulatory requirements and ensure that any cloud adoption or infrastructure matches these requirements and aligns to the need for data protection and management.
Additionally, with cybercrime incidents increasing and becoming more complex, companies in Africa need to ensure that they are partnered with the right cloud partners who not only have an African footprint and understand the socio-economic complexities that exist, but that offer the right mix of security in the cloud to ensure regulatory requirement can be achieved.
What are some of the challenges of migrating to the cloud?
I believe that a key challenge in this regard is linked to when organisations lack a ‘business-first’ cloud adoption strategy and focus on cloud solely as an IT matter.
The cloud is aimed at providing business agility without the weight of infrastructure responsibility. Business decision makers should, therefore, turn their attention to developing and implementing a centralised cloud strategy and use it as the foundation for governing the use of cloud services across the business and IT organisation. While any cloud strategy should first be informed by business strategy, the IT operations team should also have an active voice in formulating it, given that a cloud strategy done poorly will increase complexity – which will directly increase costs.