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Sunday, May 26th

A changing cloud world

A changing cloud world

Businesses are progressively embracing a multi-cloud strategy to drive increased innovation, speed to market and to optimise cost. However, the new challenge for organisations is creating an integrated data management strategy that will integrate disparate cloud services, automate the movement of data across multiple workloads when and where it is needed, while remaining compliant with the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) locally and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe.

The cloud is being used as a second home for data, as part of a disaster recovery plan due to the prohibitive costs of having a second physical site in South Africa, and has become an attractive and cost-effective alternative.

Fortunately, local cloud providers are improving their capabilities given how mindful businesses have become of the regulatory impact that hosting data off-site could have, especially if there is a breach.

In Southern Africa, companies have been using cloud-based services for years and recognise the cloud as an enabler to their digital transformation strategy. Improved connectivity coverage and costs enable more cloud services and we see growth across BaaS, DRaaS, IaaS and SaaS as well as DCaaS and many new offerings such as Migration-as-a-Service to managed cloud or public cloud or both to ensure protection of data.

With Gartner predicting that a multi-cloud strategy will become the common strategy for 70% of enterprises this year, there is far more to come once businesses understand how to plan, deploy and leverage their IT infrastructure investments and push the parameters for how it should and could be used.

Services for all

Various 'as-a-service' offerings will see a growth in local adoption especially given the importance of freeing up resources and using IT infrastructure in a scalable way to quickly access higher computing power.

Contributing to this cloud-friendly environment are solutions that have made it easier for businesses to migrate data and critical applications. Thanks to improved connectivity and speed, as a result of fibre rollout, competition among telco operators is driving down the cost of connectivity. In turn, this is driving more businesses to adopt cloud services.

South African businesses are embracing digital transformation and using the power and elasticity of the cloud to deliver rich digital experiences to their users.

In multi-cloud environments, it becomes more challenging to ensure that data and applications are always available, to all users and all devices, across all private, public, and hybrid workloads. To this end, companies need a more proactive approach to data management. An approach that will not only intelligently anticipate and meet the demand of data, but also enhance the value of its corporate data assets, deliver new products and services to market quicker and drive the digital transformation of the business.

Automation

In the push to embrace Intelligent Data Management, many local companies are using the cloud to automate processes. However, for this to work effectively, data must evolve from policy-driven to behaviour-driven. Data must have built-in machine learning and artificial intelligence to keep getting smarter about the best actions to take in any given situation. Automation improves the responsiveness, security and business value of data while reducing the cost and time that staff spend on manually managing and storing data, empowering the IT team to focus on getting real insights from their data and adding value to the business. The starting point is to have a backup of the data.

From there the necessary testing and migrations can begin, ensuring the right processes and procedures are followed and if a rollback is required, multiple copies of the data already exist for quick recovery back to the original location.

Of course, this does not mean there are not challenges to overcome in the cloud 'gold rush'. Last-mile connectivity is still not a reality for many areas in South Africa. And despite growing competition, data costs are still high compared to international markets.

Changing times

While the arrival of Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services datacentres is good news for local business, it does put pressure on local providers. They will now have to re-evaluate their offerings and technologies to remain competitive and cost-effective.

Other services that are more in-depth, niche and close to home should form the balance of their offering. They do have a head start though, as they know the local customers and their needs, and have built trust with them, providing a personalised service. However, some of their current value propositions are going to diminish.

One way local providers can add value is to embrace public providers, as they will be unable to challenge them on cost in some areas and in other areas they will be more cost-effective when the entire cost is considered.

If they look at using the services offered by the big cloud providers as part of their services mix and keep some of their local cloud services that are more niche to themselves, this could present a unique blend that will appeal to sectors that have differing needs.

All told, the market is ready for the next phase of cloud innovation. It now just needs the desire from providers to help meet the expected demand.

By Trent Odgers, Cloud & Hosting Manager for Southern Africa at Veeam.

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