The International Data Corporation (IDC) is expecting spend on cloud computing services in South Africa to increase this year.
This was revealed by Derrick Chikanga, IT services research manager at the market analyst firm, in a wide-ranging interview with ITWeb TV.
“We should expect to witness continued investment or spend in cloud services, largely by enterprises in the country,” says Chikanga.
“Government should also start coming onboard, especially considering the serious mishaps that are frequently experienced in some government departments and their IT systems. Clearly, public sector institutions have significant challenges trying to maintain their IT infrastructure, hence the cloud environment could provide a plausible solution to these challenges.”
Citing a recent IDC report based on over 100 respondents, Chikanga says only 9% indicated spending on traditional on-premises IT infrastructure, while 60% indicated a hybrid cloud approach – a combination of public and private cloud solutions.
He points out that South African organisations are starting to realise the benefits of migrating their work files to the cloud environment, such as reduced spend on IT infrastructure, since everything becomes an “as-a-service” arrangement.
“Of course, cloud providers will need to continue educating existing and potential customers on the tangible benefits of migrating to the cloud compared to on-premises servers. This is because some organisations don’t clearly understand the clear-cut benefits of having work files in the cloud. The onus will be on service providers to highlight these benefits to the end-users.”
Selecting the best
The discussion also centred on the different hyperscalers, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Alibaba (BCX), which have established a local presence in SA.
According to Chikanga, different cloud providers have different product or offerings. “Just as an example, we have the three main cloud service categories – infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), software-as-a-service (SaaS) and platform-as-a-service (PaaS).
“At the same time, we have the three main global cloud providers – AWS, Microsoft and Google Cloud. However, they each have strengths in specific categories. AWS is the strongest in the IaaS market, while Microsoft dominates the SaaS market category.
“With regards to similarities, I would say the main providers, such as AWS and Microsoft Azure, have a local presence and provide their services through local cloud data centres, which address various end-user concerns, such as latency and data residency requirements.”
“So as a company, each organisation should do a thorough assessment of its business needs and develop a roadmap of how it can move from its current position to where it wants to be in the future.
“The ‘lift and shift’ approach often results in most providers failing to realise the anticipated benefits of migrating to the cloud, and eventually they start feeling like they might have wasted their money.
“This is because they lack a clear roadmap of their migration journey and what they want to achieve at the end of the day. So, the first point of call will be an internal assessment of company requirements, then selecting an ideal cloud provider based on these needs.”
Businesses should also select reputable providers that have the skills and capabilities to deliver on their promises, Chikanga notes, adding that security capabilities are critical in selecting the ideal cloud provider.
In any case, he adds, most organisations rarely rely on a single cloud provider. In most instances, organisations adopt a multi-cloud approach, whereby they use various cloud providers rather than a single cloud provider; again, this is because cloud providers have strengths in different areas, be it IaaS, PaaS or SaaS, he explains.
For Chikanga, the issue of IT security is the responsibility of all parties – enterprises and public sector institutions on the one hand, and cloud providers on the other.
He points out that cloud providers need to ensure their cloud and data centre environments are secure at all times by being proactive and enabling automated responses to security incidents.
Institutions, on the other hand, need a zero-trust approach to data accessibility, to ensure data and privacy control within the organisation, he says.
“Organisations should also encrypt their data while it’s on the cloud. Data classification and controlling who has access to specific data is also an alternative.”
Chikanga believes some of the most complex threats emanate from within organisations, whereby employees with the knowhow of internal IT systems present the biggest threat to the company itself, hence the need for stringent data access controls within the business.
“Also, companies need to educate their employees about the dangers of visiting malicious websites and clicking on suspicious links that might be sent via e-mail. These pose some of the biggest threats to an organisation’s IT systems, so companies need to create a culture of security-consciousness to ensure infrastructure and information are secure.”
On the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on the cloud market, he says generative AI took the market by storm last year through the introduction of ChatGPT and the like.
OpenAI, GoogleAI and Meta are some of the organisations spearheading global AI research, he notes.
“Going forward, we should start seeing organisations developing real use-cases that could have a meaningful impact on their operations; 16% of surveyed organisations are already using AI and 33% of organisations currently not using AI indicated intentions of using AI in one form or the other in the next two years.”