The new trend – managed services for public cloud

Businesses are embracing public cloud while realising they need a new breed of cloud managed services provider to partner with on their digital transformation journeys.

Johannesburg, 04 Mar 2020
Read time 3min 00sec

The first week in March celebrates the one-year anniversary of Microsoft Azure being delivered from cloud regions in Africa. This is an opportune time to take stock of the past year and the way forward. Willem Malan, COO at BUI, says 2019 saw incredible uptake and growth in the consumption of public cloud in South Africa.

“The use of hyper-scale public cloud has become mainstream. This is driven by customers across the business landscape. As businesses are digitally transforming, some customers are landing their first workload in the cloud while others are going all in. We’ve seen an upswing in customers laying out a roadmap to fully transition to cloud and shutting down their own data centre infrastructure or exiting legacy hosting providers’ contracts. The exciting projects are where customers can now innovate using technology such as AI – where this just isn’t feasible using on-premises infrastructure. We’ve moved out of the hype cycle and into mass adoption and value realisation.”

Businesses are, however, encountering new challenges when embracing public cloud – many IT departments report that using public cloud can be more complex than anticipated and that employees lack the skills to fully look after the security, governance and cost aspects of cloud. The real challenge is keeping up with operations work while also needing to focus on new features and functionality that are released on a frequent basis. These challenges can be overcome by partnering with a specialist cloud managed services provider.

Malan highlights the issues he believes are impacting how cloud services are managed. “If you consider the usage of cloud and the nature thereof, then look at some of the prevailing themes in the broader South African society and economy, you can see why there’s a need for cloud managed services versus managing your own technology infrastructure. The economy is tough right now, at same time the IT sector is experiencing a significant skills shortage around professionals with modern cloud skills. These factors underline why cloud managed services are in such demand by organisations as it not only removes the need for the business to hire in skills, but it also saves them costs down the line.”

There are, however, major differences between cloud managed services and legacy managed services. “We see the key difference as the focus of cloud managed services. This is about the outcomes – delivering agile, value-driven services in a partnership model, while legacy managed services are all about keeping the status quo.” Cloud managed services require DevOps skills to move a workload from assessment, planning and migration through to ongoing management and optimisation. “It is rare for any environment we manage to remain static for very long – there are always new business problems to solve and solutions to implement.”

As to what the future holds, Malan is excited and sees a lot of future potential: “The first year of local Microsoft Azure cloud regions has been amazing! We are so excited that customers are realising the benefits of using cloud – being able to quickly migrate or establish new workloads while knowing it is secure, cost optimised and well managed gives peace of mind and builds confidence to accelerate digital transformation.”