From the ground up

How has the pandemic impacted cloud adoption in South Africa?

“Prior to the pandemic, cloud was one of the technology spheres that companies were looking at and saying: In the future, we want to get there but not right now. But when COVID-19 hit, they needed to adjust their operational practices of how work would carry on,” explains Wayne D’Sa, CipherWave’s CEO.

For many, business continuity meant keeping a newly dispersed workforce connected. The restrictions imposed by the pandemic showed that relying on office infrastructure would no longer work and cloud computing became a necessity.

“The past 18 months has done well for the awareness capability of cloud. For nearly every industry there was this ‘aha’ moment when it came to digital migration and what it actually means,” says D’Sa. “There are also limitations around keeping infrastructure in an office where you need bandwidth to support growth. If your bandwidth isn’t sufficient, productivity is affected.”

According to D’Sa, companies are now readjusting their cloud strategy. While many organisations saw cloud as a tool for business continuity during the pandemic, rushing into ‘work from anywhere’ migratory solutions, the market has now taken a more fit for purpose view with one of the main focus areas of cloud adoption being security – keeping employee and company data safe.

“Security is critical. In a reliable provider environment, you know what you’re getting for that service, whereas if it is managed in-house, the question sits with your own team,” he says. When it comes to data security and user privacy, D’Sa suggests adopting a cloud solution that is trustworthy, controllable and compliant. While cloud in itself, as an infrastructure, is considered secure, reliable providers will offer an end-to-end security solution that includes dedicated firewall protection, virtual server protection and encryption.

Another consideration is usage. While public clouds do offer consumption-based models, not understanding your company’s consumption could be problematic. D’Sa explains that most businesses do not understand how much data they bring in, or data they process.

“If you’re very much aware of what you’re consuming and how you’re consuming, it won’t be a problem because then the costs are predictable. But there are many complexities – we’ve seen businesses moving away from public cloud into private cloud purely because of unpredictable costing,” adds D’Sa.

While a general-purpose, traditional cloud solution could work, D’Sa believes that a cloud strategy that’s fit for purpose and assures optimal business value is one of the biggest lessons to come out of the past 12 months. Cloud is now seen through a different lens.

“People are looking and saying: Do we need all of our workloads there? How do we adjust them or move them back into a private cloud because the costs are more stable? What does our data housing look like? The pandemic has spearheaded a more focused approach towards what’s happening in the cloud,” says D’Sa. “The focus of pre-pandemic cloud adoption was low-level apps like e-mail and backups. During the pandemic, the key factors were scalability, manageability and availability, and now we’re seeing the market coming back in terms of sales performance and productivity.”

Even though vaccination numbers are rising and infection rates are coming down, the pandemic is far from over. For many organisations, it’s no longer about coming out the other side, but rather continuing through “because there isn’t an end date”, adds D’Sa. “With sales performance and productivity picking up, companies are having to scale to meet demand. They’re putting more into cloud, whether it’s private or public. Many are taking a hybrid approach and starting to put more of their data into cloud environments because the flexibility is there.”

In order to remain competitive, companies now need to decide what applications and data can be placed in the cloud in order to build future scalability. What’s more is that partnering with cloud entities that can provide access to infrastructure is what will minimise business risk.

“Companies are making a massive, concerted effort to have a footprint in a cloud. Hybrid cloud is going to be where we will probably stay for a while because it is a fit-for-business discussion. Decisions are being made from a risk perspective,” explains D’Sa. “What we will see is companies adopting larger percentages of their production environments in a cloud of sorts.”

With so many cloud providers to choose between, D’Sa advises those who are about to embark on a post-pandemic, digital migration – or readjustment – to take the time and effort required to ensure they pick the right cloud partner. It’s not simply about selling a virtual server but rather understanding what that service can do for the customer and how it will impact their business.

“Find out where they are in the cloud space at the moment. What are they developing going into the future? What does their support look like? It’s important that their technology framework is aligned to how your organisation or industry works,” he says. “The reality is that any company that does not have cloud already on the roadmap is not one that will exist.”

 

Courtesy of ITWeb


Johannesburg, 19 Nov 2021