What will cloud strategies of the future look like?

Cloud will probably not be cheaper than data centres, but there are many ways to maximise value from cloud infrastructure services for today, and well into the future, says Richard Vester, divisional director of Cloud Services at EOH.

Johannesburg, 27 Jun 2018
Read time 5min 40sec

Public cloud is a hot topic in boardrooms right now. According to Forrester, in 2018 more than 50% of global enterprises will rely on at least one public cloud platform to drive digital transformation and enhance customer experience. In terms of revenue, the South African cloud market is worth $140 and growing.

As data proliferates, businesses are considering the merits of their own data storage structure (hosted) versus cloud operated in a managed service environment.

With Microsoft Azure bringing data centres to South Africa in 2018, and Amazon also considering the construction of data centres later in 2018, the obvious question for many businesses is, will cloud be cheaper? The truth is, probably not, but there are many ways to maximise value from cloud infrastructure services for today, and well into the future.

Just five years from now

By 2023 the cost of infrastructure won't necessarily be any cheaper than it is today, but the infrastructure required to manage the volumes of data will likely be five times larger, so the value will be seen in terms of volume management. Fast data is already causing this pressure on companies to handle large volumes of real-time data, with the financial and healthcare sectors under extreme stress in terms of data volume and velocity.

Due to the fast pace of data today, cloud technologies are evolving at an exponential pace. Amazon Web Services (AWS) is reported to have launched nearly 1 000 enhancements this last year alone, which tells us the extent to which AWS need to continually develop its cloud technologies to handle the increasing amount of data, and this from an organisation that was 'born in the cloud'.

Those organisations not 'born in the cloud' simply don't have the skills to keep up with the pace of change as it is today. Software engineers used to go on training twice a year, now they are going monthly. In five years, the frequency at which software engineers attend training will be exponentially higher.

What we can see is this; the skills of the future are developing at a rapid pace. Skillset demands are becoming too high for those businesses that are not uniquely positioned to adapt to the fast pace of technological changes. Organisations need to be smart about how they access these skills and tools, whilst keeping their focus on their core offering.

Cloud solutions and strategies

The best cloud technology solutions businesses should look for offer functionality to scale out and 'self-heal'. Data is growing too fast, and with that applications and tooling are changing fast.

While some infrastructure will remain as part of organisation's core applications (consider POPI and GDPR), edge technologies will most likely sit with those service providers uniquely positioned to handle the pace of evolution we are seeing.

Traditionally, infrastructure service providers don't play a consultative role to their customers. But with the extensive dynamics at play in this space at the moment, customers need a provider with a combination of the right tools and managed services, to go on the journey with them and migrate them into the cloud solution that is right for them.

Hybrid and multi-cloud solutions are still a valid option for many businesses, but again, it's about ensuring you have the right capabilities to talk to multiple platforms through service providers offering a management layer to help your business manage and control usage.

Strategies require less infrastructure and more PAAS

In a fast data world, a multi-cloud solution means companies can flex to changing needs without having to adapt their entire cloud strategy. Much like skills, effective leverage of cloud technologies is about using the right tools. Larger corporates are moving to AWS because of its amazing analytical capabilities. This move is not so much about price or cost saving, but about using the right types of tools to generate valuable, actionable insights.

As our technology environments adopt Agile methodologies to create custom solutions based on these actionable insights, this means frequent incremental changes to software. One of the other key advantages of cloud storage is its ease of use for spinning up extra resources.

The advent of containerisation, critical to ensuring software runs correctly when it is moved to a different environment, is also casting a new light on our ability to customise and create quickly and effectively. Microservices-based architecture (containerisation) enables services to update independently while ensuring that solution operates in the desired manner.

Containerisation, essentially a capability within a capability, changes the IAAS dynamic. Years ago, boardroom discussions around IAAS, SAAS and PAAS, put PAAS as the smallest of the three sisters. Now, as business avidly seeks to create custom solutions, the advantage with PAAS is that it offers a framework within which to develop a more agile approach to innovate around data, allowing businesses to build upon or develop customise applications.

Platform-as-a-Service (PAAS) adoption is predicted to be the fastest-growing sector of cloud platforms according to KPMG, growing from 32% in 2017 to 56% adoption in 2020.

Serverless solutions can help accelerate application development as they offer an unlimited supply of virtual machines with no upfront costs. Increasing adoption of IOT is accelerating this serverless trend. Scaling out and self-healing will be central to our cloud strategies of the future, compelled by the volume of data businesses are handling.

Hence, the right cloud model is critical for businesses. Whether it be a public or managed cloud, the question then becomes, how to sweat your assets?

About the author

Richard Vester is divisional director of Cloud Services at EOH. He has been in the ICT industry since 1997, intimately involved in product development, operations and product marketing. He has worked for some of the top ICT companies in South Africa and joined EOH as the divisional director of Cloud Services in 2012. He has detailed knowledge and understanding of cloud computing and has developed one of the leading cloud businesses.

Forrester is an American market research company that provides advice on existing and potential impact of technology, to its clients and the public.

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