While the cloud has been with us for about a decade and a half, in many ways it feels like we are still in the early stages of this journey. It could be said that the foundations for cloud computing were laid some time ago, but the technology only started delivering real business value fairly recently.
Predominantly, this is because the cloud itself has evolved into a platform that now offers a wide range of services, while businesses are also learning to ask the right questions and have a better understanding of the cloud journey.
In South Africa, the uptake of cloud computing was initially rather muted, mainly due to the lack of local presence by cloud vendors. Once having established themselves in the local market a few years ago, most cloud service providers had much to do in the area of educating customers about the cloud’s capabilities.
Not surprisingly, initial customer reaction was underpinned by some reluctance, as many enterprises had either already made long-term technology investments or were not ready to transition to new technology and strategy. This is an understandable caution when faced with new technologies that have yet to prove viable and valuable.
Fast forward to today, and we can safely say that cloud computing has gained significant traction in the South African market, with cloud-based solutions in some form or another finding their way into many businesses. In fact, we could say that almost all businesses now leverage some element of the cloud, such as software- or platform-as-a-service.
The real turning point came when local businesses started looking at what cloud computing has enabled companies across the globe to achieve and determining how this could be aligned with South African regulations and business models. Based on this, many local companies started their cloud journey, often with the help and guidance of skilled cloud vendors and implementation partners to shape their cloud strategies.
Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic has been a strong driver and accelerator of cloud adoption over the past 24 months, and we have seen local companies leaning towards the hybrid cloud model, as opposed to multi-cloud. This is largely due to the incompatibility of some legacy workloads and applications that were not designed to be hosted in the cloud. Many have found out the hard way that moving these applications and workloads to a public cloud computing platform can become an expensive and impractical exercise, because the software is not optimised for a multi-tenancy cloud computing model.
Obviously, there are numerous benefits that are pushing businesses toward the cloud. For many enterprises, the current way of doing business might not deliver the agility to grow or may not provide the platform or flexibility to compete. Additionally, the proliferation of data created by digital businesses is pushing up the cost and complexity of data centre storage, needing new skills and analytics tools from IT.
Beware the pitfalls
But there are some pitfalls that businesses need to avoid when migrating to the cloud and asking the right questions can prevent headaches and unexpected costs. Importantly, customers need to understand that the cloud is a hosted platform, but protecting their data remains their responsibility. While making your company data available anytime and anywhere does have its advantages, there also needs to be security measures in place to restrict and control access.
Therefore, it is important that companies understand where their data resides and how it is protected. And while the first part of protection is security, the second is backup and recovery. While most cloud vendors will offer hosting services for platforms or applications, the responsibility of recovering company data in an accident or disaster scenario is normally seen as a separate service and the responsibility of the customer.
To avoid the potential challenges and pitfalls that can arise as part of cloud adoption, there are experienced and skilled data management consultancies that can guide companies along their cloud journeys. These service providers typically offer consulting, technical support, managed services, and training. They can maximise the management and backup of data for businesses, including cloud adoption and integration strategies; on-site or hybrid data solutions; disaster recovery consulting; and managed services, tailored to the size and budget of a specific enterprise.