Despite many South African companies still using on-premise data centres, it is expected that hybrid cloud adoption will increase significantly in the next few years. But what is fuelling this growth locally?
The recently launched Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Index 2018 report, consisting of interviews with thousands of IT decision makers from around the world, points to a mounting realisation of the business benefits of migrating to the cloud. Citing data security, compliance and ease of management as the three most important factors when selecting an environment for organisational workloads, local companies are giving serious consideration to a hybrid approach.
A hybrid cloud combines at least one private cloud with at least one public cloud service, with some degree of integration between the two environments. In a sense, this is about providing the best of all worlds while mitigating any potential risks of going entirely the private or public cloud route.
According to the report, 41% of global respondents see their organisations using the hybrid cloud within two years. South Africa is not far behind, with 33% of surveyed organisations expecting to use some form of hybrid cloud in the next 12 to 24 months.
Given the imminent arrival of multinational data centres in the country, sentiment is rising around the need to closely examine how best to adopt a cloud-centric business strategy. Locally, less than half (43%) of the organisational workload is currently running in the cloud. Given how it is expected to increase to 57% in two years’ time, the momentum is clearly shifting to incorporating the cloud in the growth vision of an organisation.
Cynics might argue that the cloud is simply part of the next technology hype cycle and does not provide enough reasons to warrant replacing existing systems and infrastructure. However, the report suggests South African companies keen on making the move cite flexibility as the biggest benefit (78%) in doing so.
Significantly, choosing the best cost model for each workload migrating to the cloud, having application mobility and being able to scale according to period of peak demand (all coming in at 66%) all influence the decision to make the move.
The much-touted productivity and efficiency improvements when adopting a cloud approach are important benefits for local companies trying to optimise processes in a challenging economic environment.
In fact, hybrid cloud solutions ensure that more organisational needs are being met than those limiting themselves to a single public cloud environment. Despite this, a certain degree of fluidity is required with most respondents (59%) across Europe, the Middle East and Africa saying it is needed to easily move applications between cloud environments.
Having the flexibility to choose which workload gets transitioned to the cloud instead of going with a big bang approach means companies can test the waters and see how best to integrate a hybrid solution in their existing systems and processes.
Unlike a legacy approach, a cloud-based strategy is not “everything or nothing”. In some instances, companies can decide on experimenting with file or e-mail servers while others might prefer to do data warehousing and analysis first. It is this flexibility and customisability that helps drive the move to the cloud, giving decision makers a sense of empowerment in how best to drive their growth forward.
The changing regulatory environment in South Africa with the Protection of Personal Information Act and the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation means companies need to find effective ways of ticking the compliance boxes while still getting the benefits they need from the data at their disposal.
A hybrid cloud approach means the technology is always up to date and secure and adapts to regulatory requirements as they get updated. This means IT teams at local companies can focus less on hardware and software management and focus more on delivering strategic value to the business.
Given how technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, the blockchain, and others are driven by cloud-based approaches, South African companies are on the right track to embrace these as they start migrating to hybrid environments. All told, the future of business will be driven from the cloud. It is now up to local businesses to move there.
- Paul Ruinaard is country manager at Nutanix sub-Saharan Africa