Cloud democratises IT

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The democratisation of IT is one of the most amazing changes that will result from cloud computing, according to Gareth Jane, Windows Azure platform strategy advisor at Microsoft SA.

Speaking at ITWeb's Cloud Computing Summit in Johannesburg this morning, Jane emphasised the effect cloud computing has on levelling the playing field between businesses of different sizes, with different resources.

"Where you used to have to sink millions and millions of dollars into media and business intelligence, they're now almost free with the cloud," he said.

However, despite the positive impact on small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in SA brought about by the lowered capital costs associated with the cloud, uptake is still being delayed by problems with access, said Jane. "You can have the most compelling cloud possible, but it doesn't mean much unless people can actually access it," he noted.

Problems with broadband access in SA are slowly being countered, with numerous projects attempting to tackle the lack of Internet access in the most remote regions of the country, but progress is slow, he explained. Local broadband access is not the only obstacle to cloud uptake; trans-national data flows are also inhibiting growth.

Trust is another problem, with many businesses reluctant to entrust their important data to the cloud, Jane added. "There is a lot of worry around security, and a lot of work that software vendors need to do to make sure their products are trustworthy."

Transformation is vital for cloud computing to become the norm in SA, which would allow the country's enterprises to reap the many benefits of cloud's impact on productivity, jobs and competitiveness, said Jane. The transformation needed is multifaceted and must enable cloud computing from every angle, he explained. "Apart from broadband penetration, there is a need for education and training, as well as increased funding for start-ups, and promotion of IT innovation."

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