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What keeps SA's ICT channel operators awake at night?

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The ability to securely manage and leverage data, fully protect the business from cyber threats as well as recruit enough skilled people to handle the technology are top concerns for South African business leaders.

This is according to discussions among technology solution distributors, vendors and resellers attending the Pinnacle TechScape 2022 event this week.

It is clear that channel businesses are happy to meet up in person and see some degree of normality has returned, with so many industries reeling from the impact of COVID-19. However, challenges remain – chief among which is security.

Kate Mollett, regional director for Africa at Commvault, said the company (and by extension its customers), is concerned about the prevalence and sophistication of ransomware.

“One of my stresses is that Commvault is still able to do enough R&D to stay ahead of it. It feels now that we’ve made big strides because we’ve just bought a cyber security software house that specialised in ransomware, deep ransomware defence features. That is going to be integrated directly into Metallic.

“So we’re not standing still and assuming the posture we have now is enough. By investing in that kind of technology, we’re showing that we are preparing for a continued onslaught.”

This sentiment was echoed by Doug Woolley, MD of Dell Technologies South Africa, who said traditional parameter security can no longer withstand the volume and sophistication of cyber threats.

“The way we’ve done security around the parameter doesn’t make sense anymore, because you have to have security built in from the ground up.”

Cyber security will gain prominence going forward, as businesses digitally transform and cement data management strategies.

According to Dell Technologies, edge computing will be the new battleground for data management.

“We believe edge is going to be the next big revolution in our industry,” said Woolley. “We also believe that by 2025, 75% all data will be at the edge, not in the data centre, not in the cloud. That will present a whole host of opportunities for partners, for customers and the way that we consume and process data.”

Data management and security are firmly front-of-mind for businesses in the midst of digital transformation.

Businesses have had to transform and, at the same time, adapt overnight to COVID-19 restrictions, most notably the need to equip employees with infrastructure to be able to work from home.

This has presented all service providers and tech resellers with another opportunity to showcase the value of ICT infrastructure investment, particularly related to an increase in migration to the cloud.

In addition, it provides a platform for businesses to sort out their on-premises infrastructure and legacy issues to become ‘cloud-ready’ and roll out cloud-first strategies.

Something that Rowen Grierson, regional director for Nutanix Sub-Saharan Africa, is acutely aware of.

“Roll back a year… when I initially took over, it was quite interesting, having a discussion with a lot of customers and execs in the region; everyone was talking about cloud-first strategy. And when you hear ‘cloud-first’ strategy, people assume public cloud, but cloud-first doesn’t necessarily mean public cloud.

“We’ve seen over the years, in the US and Europe, it’s not quite that easy. People throw all their applications in there and then all of a sudden they get these bill shocks. That is why multi-cloud is a big thing now, because apps are unique and some are better suited in public cloud, others are better suited on-premises and you kind of need that holistic approach across both.”

The core message from Nutanix is the need to simplify operations on-premises and leverage one management platform to make it easier to migrate to cloud and control mission-critical aspects like cost, compliance, skills, etc.

While the impact of COVID-19 on operations is likely to still be felt for some time to come, tech businesses sense a growing opportunity.

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