Cloud not yet a priority

Johannesburg, 04 Mar 2010

Cloud computing in the form of hosting data off-site, virtualisation, and Web 2.0 technologies feature as the top three priorities for global CIOs, yet they are still emerging technologies in the eyes of local CIOs.

“The cloud computing service market is embryonic, and the future market will look nothing like the market of 2009,” explained George Ambler, executive partner for Gartner Executive Programmes, at yesterday's Gartner Predicts 2010 conference in Sandton.

Ambler said South African CIOs have a very different strategic technology focus compared to European counterparts. “While global CIOs are focused on driving collaboration and innovation by leveraging light-weight technologies such as virtualisation, cloud computing and Web 2.0, South African CIOs are more concerned with business intelligence, networking, voice and data communications and enterprise applications.”

Overcoming hurdles

The lack of infrastructure and heavy bandwidth costs are blamed as some of the main reasons why these technologies have not been widely adopted locally. Traditionally, SA is two years behind Europe in terms of technology trends. Ambler speculated that perhaps it will be the CIOs of future generations that demand Web 2.0 collaboration.

A risk factor is that organisations are still wary about putting their valuable data in the external cloud. However, Ambler pointed out this hasn't stopped them from developing a private cloud infrastructure within the organisation.

Ambler added that Web 2.0 technologies challenge businesses to work differently, and many businesses are reluctant to change.

Cloud transformation

Ambler said: “Virtualisation and cloud computing are transforming the IT infrastructure operations and economics. Social computing and Web 2.0 technologies create opportunities for IT to create value in new areas outside of IT's traditional strengths in front- and back-office transaction processing and management systems.”

However, Steve Prentice, VP and Gartner Fellow, said cloud computing is the future, and that by 2012, 20% of businesses globally will own no IT assets. In addition, India-centric companies will represent 20% of the leading cloud aggregators.

Prentice said the world is currently in a monolithic, early stage of cloud computing, with cloud services being dominated by mega-providers such as Google and

He added that in two years from now, this market will transform into a vertical supply chain where cloud providers will leverage cloud services from other providers.

“In four years' time, there will be many more smaller service providers and more choices. Monolithic providers will not go away, but they will be surrounded by more agile, focused competitors who rely on standards for interoperability,” Prentice noted.

Bandwidth constraints

Arthur Goldstuck, MD of World Wide Worx, says, according to the company's latest mobility study, virtual private networks took the top position as a priority for CIOs. Software-as-a-service (SaaS) came in second, and cloud computing was the sixth priority.

“Cloud computing is emerging rapidly, and we expect a year from now, cloud computing will reach the top position locally.”

Goldstuck agreed with Ambler that some of the key constraints for the adoption of cloud computing is the cost and availability of bandwidth: “We have enough international bandwidth arriving at our shores but we don't have enough fibre networks across the country for cloud computing to become fully viable yet.

“I think cloud computing is going to move quickly into the mainstream and will become a pervasive technology for corporates and SMEs. While cloud computing is still emerging, the platforms that make it possible such as SaaS are already becoming pervasive.”