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SA companies reverse out of public cloud

According to a recent Nutanix survey, SA companies have increased their traditional data centre usage substantially this year, citing cost implications and complexities involved in cloud migration.
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Paul Ruinaard, regional sales director Sub-Saharan Africa, Nutanix.
Paul Ruinaard, regional sales director Sub-Saharan Africa, Nutanix.

South African businesses are now reconsidering their headlong rush to the public cloud, according to a recent survey.

According to this year’s Enterprise Cloud Index, 84% of South African firms polled said they were moving applications out of the public cloud and back to on-premises infrastructure. The global average is at 73%, and EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa) is at 71%.

The survey, undertaken by research house Vanson Bourne for cloud company Nutanix, found that many of these applications would now land up in traditional data centres rather than public clouds.

SA increased its data centre usage by 48% to 72% this year, among the highest in the world. Only South Korea (74%), Hong Kong (76%) and Switzerland (84%) were higher. The countries with the lowest reported data centre usage are Japan at 24%, Saudi Arabia (34%), United Arab Emirates (40%) and India (42%).

The survey, released this week, polled 2 650 IT decision-makers, of which about 200 were in SA.

Just a quarter of local respondents reported using private cloud, which is the third lowest globally, except for Taiwan (21%) and Hong Kong (23%).

It also appears as if local IT professionals are struggling to manage public cloud budgets, with over half (53%) reporting being over budget. This compares to 35% of their global colleagues.

Cost also appears to play a more important role in SA than elsewhere. Over three-quarters (76%) of local respondents said that cost advantages were the most important factor in cloud adoption, compared to 53% of global and EMEA respondents.

South Africans agree with the rest of the world that hybrid cloud presents the optimal IT operating model, but reported the third lowest penetration of hybrid clouds today, at 6%, after Japan (3%) and Switzerland (4%). 

Respondents said, however, that hybrid deployment will show strong growth, perhaps as much as quadruple, in three to five years, and private cloud usage will decline.

Due diligence

Venugopal Pai, vice-president for customer success at Nutanix, says when businesses consider cloud adoption, they should imagine it as an extension of their data centre.

“Cloud is a business model, not a destination,” he said, speaking to ITWeb at the company’s .NEXT event in Johannesburg this week.

He said many enterprises had now realised they’d "gone too far into public cloud without doing due diligence". This diligence includes examining cost implications, as well as whether an application is ready for migration.

Paul Ruinaard, Nutanix regional sales director, said many think that cloud is about moving large, tier-one application workloads from on-prem into the cloud, but this was easier said than done.

“I think a lot of people have gone into the cloud and then realised it’s very complex, and that they need to re-architect their apps. Now, they’re leaving the cloud and going back into traditional data centres.”

In addition, businesses appear to be struggling, at least in SA, with the cloud billing model. One example of this is a developer forgetting to switch off a cloud compute instance over the weekend, for which the business will be billed.

“There’s a lot of discipline around running cloud businesses that we’ve got to learn,” said Ruinaard.

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