It’s difficult to find an executive in any company who does not have a strategy based on their data somewhere on their list of priorities. Data management touches several important areas including security, customer engagement, innovation, new business models and digital transformation.
At the bottom of the stack is the venerable workhorse serving up the answers the business needs: the enterprise database. How exactly will its role and function change as more companies put services in the cloud? We spoke to several South African information executives at a recent Axiz Oracle CITO Forum about some of the reasons they see their data moving to cloud platforms in future.
Tony van der Linden, CIO and head of R&D at BBD, says not all of his data is in the cloud but a lot of it is for cost reasons.
“We don’t put all of our data in the cloud but it is cheaper to put some data there. It’s not just the cost savings of the physical tin to run it but the expense of the people to look after it as well.”
Lerato Dhlamini, IT manager at the National Development Agency agrees.
“The motivator for us is that we can minimise infrastructure resources and cost internally as well,” she says.
Bill Jones, former CIO of Royal HaskoningDHV, says cloud is also a potential business opportunity.
“Cost does come into it, and you have to have some business value to move to the cloud. But you should also look at it for opportunities; in an engineering business, cloud is a far better platform for using resources around the world and collaborating than trying to do it in your own data centre.”
Avsharn Bachoo, chief technology officer at PPS Insurance, says cloud was a natural move because of a technology refresh.
“We were at the point of a technology refresh, so instead of investing in new tin, we moved our applications and databases to the cloud.”
Chris Barry, chief digital officer at Barloworld Equipment, says his process will not be so easy.
“We are on the cloud journey but there’s a lot of unbundling we have to do first. We have a fairly legacy monolithic stack, which means we have 60-odd years of data and documents sitting on physical tin and our problem is how to decide what to take to the cloud and what applications will best benefit from a cloud architecture.”
On the regulatory side, there are far fewer hurdles than there were just a few years ago. Verushca Hunter, head of technology enterprise functions at Absa Group, says the bank’s strategy is cloud first.
“We’re bound by regulations, but the South African Reserve Bank is comfortable with putting data into the cloud as long as the data is not material. The problem is the rest of Africa and whether the local regulator in each particular country is comfortable with cloud.”
Victor Bothlhokwane, presales manager for Oracle South Africa’s data platform, points out that organisations do need to check their internal readiness for the move to cloud.
“There are a large number of organisations that are already running software-as-a-service applications such as ERP in the cloud,” he says. “But when you mention data, that’s when eyebrows go up and the discussion heats up a bit. People wonder whether industry regulations allow them to do it. But organisations’ own policies and strategies need to be ready first.”
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