Businesses need cloud adopting strategy

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South African companies are continuing a steady migration to cloud services in the wake of more reliable bandwidth, a maturing market driven by large multinational cloud services providers and a better understanding of the value proposition of cloud services.

But Dr Mariana Carroll, head of the Cloud Computing Centre of Excellence at Deloitte says there are some hard questions that need to be answered before companies can successfully migrate essential IT services to a cloud environment.

"Many companies already feel that they're good at IT outsourcing and vendor management. Often these companies run in virtualised environments, which set them up well for cloud services adoption. However, executives need to consider a number of business and technology issues before a company go the cloud route." says Carroll.

Carroll believes companies need to look at whether there is business value in adopting cloud services and should understand the barriers and risks of cloud service migration and how to overcome them

"Many enterprises fail to understand the unique risks associated with cloud services and how these risks differ from traditional systems. This lack of understanding often leads to executives ignoring the risks - with potentially disastrous results.

Also, before migrating, there has to be a clear strategy around integration, aggregation and orchestration, otherwise it's nearly impossible to tie the process back to business objectives, says Carroll.

In addition, Stephan Pienaar, COO of Framework One, a software development company, says companies must have sufficient in-house technical skills to manage the cloud integration and management process.

"You need slightly different skills to manage your cloud environment and it's important you have internal capacity to do this efficiently", says Pienaar.

Also, companies should have a good understanding of general cloud principles such as scalability, availability, security and rapid provisioning of resources, so technical skills are very important.

He points out that there's also a cultural fit that needs to be considered before migrating to the cloud.

"Many of our clients are eager to adopt modern technologies and see cloud as a natural fit. However, there are still old-school IT professionals that prefer having physical on-site IT infrastructure, and for them the cloud will never be an option."

Understanding a company's culture enables you to make a more informed decision on whether cloud adoption is the correct route for it - avoiding costly mistakes, explains Pienaar.

According to Carroll, governance, risk and compliance factors should be considered before cloud migration.

"Just because your data is with an external provider doesn't mean you're absolved from your governance obligations."

Businesses need need to clearly define responsibility for data management and control, and ensure its infrastructure security is exceptional, concludes Carroll.

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