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African businesses trust their IT strategies to the cloud

African businesses trust their IT strategies to the cloud

An increase in trust in the cloud is one of the key drivers behind cloud adoption and consumption across Africa, according to Kabelo Makwane, Managing Executive of Cloud, Hosting & Security at Vodacom.

He says enterprises and consumers need to worry less about securing the underlying infrastructure, other than the access device.

"With ever increasing bandwidth based on 4G and 5G roll-out in the mobile space and more fibre in the ground being rolled out to the last mile in the fixed line space, both consumers and businesses can securely access and harness the power of cloud based services. More enterprises choose to store their data off-site and in the public cloud instead of on-premise where it may be less secure and prone to direct hacks and security breaches," says Makwane.

He emphasises the fact that while cloud used to be considered merely hype, today most C-suite decision makers regard cloud and security strategies as among their top three business priorities.

"The questions are no longer 'if' but 'when' and how much will it be to move to the cloud and at what pace. To most this will likely mean a multi-speed approach. Cloud services are still showing 7% growth, according to a 2018 IDC survey, whereas hybrid cloud adoption shows a 24% growth according to a 2018 Ovum Cloud Services survey. Industry research also shows the fastest adoption to be Cloud Software as a Service (SaaS) versus Platform as a Service (PaaS) and IaaS," adds Makwane.

There are many lessons learned says Makwane, some from the realisation that cloud computing could in fact end up being more expensive if the same on premises ritual and rigor management practices of strong governance, controls, management tools and usage monitoring are not implemented as part of the overall ITSM (Information Technology Service Management) framework for IT.

"In the same vein the journey map from Cloud Strategy, Operating Model, Migration Strategy, Cloud Security and Cloud Management and Run must be clearly articulated, especially in larger enterprises with complex mission critical application workloads."

Makwane says cloud security has generally matured in line with all the elements of cloud, and while enterprises are still concerned about information security (and even data sovereignty in other areas), they are beginning to show more trust in the cloud by migrating increasingly larger application workloads into the cloud – given that security is natively embedded in the cloud.

Considered, holistic approach

"Once enterprises decide to adopt cloud technology as part of their modernisation and transformation journey, they also need to consider how to secure their data at rest in transit and in the cloud," Makwane continues.

This requires a considered and holistic approach in vulnerability assessment, network and perimeter security, intrusion protection and detection through network traffic monitoring and deep packet inspection and data encryption technology.

Ultimately, enterprises want to get to a SIEM (Security Incident and Event Management) model, where there is proactive threat monitoring and mitigation in security management as part of a holistic cybersecurity approach, Makwane explains.

This approach is front-of-mind for Vodacom in the execution of its cloud and security service strategy.

Makwane says the company has been building datacentres across Africa for over a decade and offers collocation and hosting services bundled together with connectivity services in the rudiments of GSM network builds.

"This capability established a competency in datacentre management that meant a natural evolution into offering a private cloud value proposition built on the Vodacom Enterprise Cloud. We have continue to evolve from offering our private cloud, which has served customer requirements well in the past, to a combination of the hyperscale cloud platforms AWS, Microsoft, Google and Huawei – all of which are managed from a single pane Cloud Management Platform (CMP) to offer clients and enterprises multi-cloud capability which is more scalable, reliable, flexible and provides the innovation platform for our clients on their terms in a simplified way...," he continues.

Makwane underlines the significance of its relationships with the likes of AWS, Microsoft, Google and Huawei, among others, to be a cloud agnostic provider.

"... and it is with AWS where we have even deeper relationships where we established a Vodacom AWS Business Group. We combine our capabilities in a compelling go-to-market proposition extending from Internet of Things (IOT) gateways, bringing edge intelligence and connectivity, centralised cloud computing platforms, built in global redundancy architecture to deliver data-driven insights to our customers."

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