Cloud boom on the cards as local data centres open
The time has come for local businesses, large and small, to embrace the cloud, but with due care to a number of issues and challenges, such as security and the selection of an appropriate partner in what is likely to become a highly contested market, with many new companies emerging to deliver solutions for the online environment.
That’s the view of Dana Cinman, product specialist at open source enterprise solutions company Obsidian Systems. Cinman believes that the launch of Microsoft Azure data centres in SA, coupled with improving local connectivity and the growing availability of pay-as-you-use IT services, will change the face of the local cloud market.
At the same time, because Microsoft had embraced open source in the cloud using partners to help it modernise the DevOps processes driven by the containerisation of infrastructure and applications, this would result in the availability of best-fit solutions without any risk of vendor lock-in, and the inter-operability of its environments.
Cinman points out that with the data centres being located locally, restrictions around the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI), which has largely limited many organisations to moving only their non-critical applications to Azure, are now no longer a cloud-limiting factor.
In addition, as prices for cloud hosting services would “hopefully” come down as a result, she predicted the emergence of more “born-in-the-cloud” organisations. Many smaller organisations, which were less hampered by legacy systems and had less data that would have to be moved via the Internet or virtual private networks (VPNs), were also more likely to switch their IT requirements from on-site systems to the cloud.
“However, irrespective of whether data is hosted or stored in the cloud, there will always be a certain amount of risk involved,” she warns.
“While Microsoft has the resources available to ensure its environment is secure, local companies must still work with trusted business partners who can offer them an additional security layer for their data. This is especially important considering Microsoft (and most other cloud providers) will only protect organisational data to a point. When it comes to moving data from the local office (or devices) into the cloud, the company still has a responsibility to ensure it takes all possible precautions to keep it secure.”
Cinman does not expect businesses to make the leap to the cloud with gay abandon. Rather, she said, they would likely run their more critical workloads in parallel with the on-premises systems until they could be sure that the cloud would perform as well as they would like. Only then, she said, would they likely relinquish their traditional IT platforms.
In searching for a cloud partner, Cinman recommended that businesses look for ones that not only delivered solutions for an online environment, but also offered services such as infrastructure-as-a-service, migration to the cloud, cost optimisation and cloud frameworks.
As for the new providers of cloud services, Cinman advised that even during the current hybrid cloud phase, they should ensure their strategies included the incorporation of multi-cloud management tools and allowed for easy billing, multi-tenancy and self-service capabilities.
“As with most other technology approaches, cost optimisation is the key. To this end, consumption-based models are more efficient than capital expenditure, especially when it comes to on-premises hardware,” she concludes.