Ryan Jamieson, Solutions and Innovation Officer at Altron Karabina
It has been almost a year since Microsoft launched its two Azure data centres in Johannesburg and Cape Town. In a perfect world, these would have resulted in an instantaneous uptake of the cloud, but these things do take time.
This is not to say that things have not been positive. According to BMIT’s SA Cloud Computing Overview and Market Sizing 2019 report, the cloud services market in South Africa is estimated to have grown at 31% in 2018 and is expected to have grown another 35% in 2019. However, companies must be ready to make the move and possess the ability to access the data centres to fully utilise them.
Much of the discussions have centred not around should the move to the cloud happen, but rather how it can be done. Our experience over the past several months is that attitudes are changing. Instead of our customers only asking for cloud assessments, they are beginning to take the steps required to make the move.
When local companies originally made the move to the public cloud, very little happened by way of planning for cost management and security. This resulted in costly mistakes being made. But with the availability of Azure, companies are no longer relying purely on the public cloud and are embracing a hybrid environment.
To this end, businesses are now looking more deliberately in how to transition to the cloud in a more robust manner. Yes, on-premise is making less sense in this connected world but the migration must be done correctly to manage cost. The lessons learnt from the early movers are now taken and businesses are revising their use of the cloud and optimising it. Through this re-optimisation, these businesses can save up to 40% of what they have been spending on the cloud.
Throughout this, companies will need trusted advisors with the necessary experience to ask the right questions, examine what has been done, and identify how best to optimise the cloud real estate to unlock full business value. As such, the hybrid approach will be around for a long time. It also means those organisations who have invested a lot of money on physical hardware will still be able to get a return on investment while identifying scenarios where the cloud makes sense, for example business continuity and disaster recovery.
Of course, there will always be certain workloads that companies would not want to move to the cloud, especially when it comes to processing sensitive information. Irrespective, the lift-and-shift mentality will come to an end within three years.
Companies will become more sophisticated in how they use the cloud. Suddenly, the hyperscale cloud computing capabilities (such as artificial intelligence, high-end data processing, containerised services, and other cognitive solutions) will start making sense. While some of these services are currently being used, it will start happening on a wider scale during 2020.
By this time next year, we are likely to have seen more growth in the cloud and the ability to unlock hyperscale computing solutions being used by even small start-ups. The partner relationship is also likely to change where companies will increasingly rely on them to run the cloud environment on their behalf without using in-house resources. It is all part of undertaking a journey and unlocking the benefits of the cloud in the most practical and relevant way possible.
South Africa is also catching up with the rest of the world when it comes to the Azure solutions being used. While certain things like quantum computing will take more time, there are developments happening around the edge where the levels of processing and computing are increasing. In turn, this will see better insights delivered at the edge resulting in faster workloads delivered to more centralised data centres.
One of the biggest benefits of making the move to the cloud is that technology innovation is becoming democratised. This sees even an entrepreneur having access to the same computing capabilities as a mega bank or large retailer. It is simply a case of entering the cloud at a price point that makes sense and scaling accordingly as the business grows.
The flexibility, security, and reliability provided by the cloud for South African organisations irrespective of their size or industry sector are simply too good to ignore.