The current cloud disconnect within the enterprise is temporary. While it is understandable to be skeptical about cloud solutions, the challenge is not only education, but an innate understanding that physical control of the cloud solution is not necessary. I believe that once it is fully understood, cloud adoption will increase and self-service management will be more readily accepted.
Not having direct control is a real issue for organisations and the hyperscale providers such as Amazon Web Services, Azure, Google etc. are exacerbating the feeling. These companies have commoditised compute and storage, while at the same time distancing themselves from personal contact with their customers.
Managed service providers (MSP) are also feeling the disconnection, especially with the legacy of “doing it themselves” rather than relying on third party providers, combined with the personal feeling of responsibility they have with multiple customers. Those in the channel must build closer relationships with partners to provide reassurance. MSPs have the technology to make cloud a reality, they just need to engage with the correct channel partners and develop a new process for cloud.
A fundamental for any cloud solution is reliable and cost efficient Internet connectivity. Significant improvements have been made, with South Africa finally having connectivity options. Locally, we have seen fibre rollout in metro areas that has increased the speed and reliability of Internet and data centre connectivity. This has, at the same time, brought much needed competition and reduced price. We believe the tipping point has been reached and it is now not a question of “if” but “when” enterprises will move business critical internal workloads to the cloud.
Admittedly, there is a lack of skill in this sector and it has led to very few new entrants into the space, as well as the prevalence of poor performing cloud platforms. As a result, cost cutting and misguided investments have impacted the success of local cloud platforms. This led to the launch and development of the Routed platform, which is a high performance, alternative cloud solution.
It is important to remember that cloud migration should never be done solely based on cost. Choosing to move some, or all workloads to the cloud is a strategic decision based more on operational risk and effectiveness. What initially increased cloud costs was the expense of quality Internet, but this has been eroded, exposing the level of skill and quality of the cloud service.
This cost reduction has encouraged a vanguard of enterprises who have already adopted cloud for low risk services: test and development, low priority workloads and disaster recovery. Having gained enough confidence in the service provider’s ability to deliver enterprise level service and support, these enterprises have started moving primary, critical internal workloads into the cloud. Conversely, those lagging behind in cloud adoption are all showing interest in migrating low risk workloads into the cloud.
South Africa has passed both the initial hype and the subsequent trough of disillusionment. While lack of direct control and weak platform design has impacted it, cloud is now being discussed not as a general panacea, but more in specific terms, targeting different clouds for different requirements. Enterprise cloud products and services such as Office365 and Salesforce.com are now being distinguished from consumer cloud technologies like iCloud, OneDrive and DropBox. At the same time, bleeding edge providers are having to provide a service proximal to, or better than, what can be delivered onsite to live up to the promise of enterprise level performance and availability at pay-per-use pricing.
Enterprises are becoming pickier, asking the right questions and being more specific about their requirements and their expectations. The development of cloud locally can only grow and improve as the market adjusts to the rising demand of the cloud and enterprises become more comfortable with less control and the concept of self-service management.