Cloud: the get into and get out of

SPONSORED: In July 2011, the influential CIO magazine said IT was in a state of disruption, caused by cloud computing. It predicted that the cloud, then a `perturbation’, would become the status quo.

Markham Parenzee, Executive: Solutions Marketing at BCX

A decade later, the uptake of the cloud has become just that, so much so that some are forecasting that in another 10 years, the evolving collection of entities of what we call the cloud will have become so universal, we will refer to it as `computing’ instead of `the cloud’. It’s no longer a buzzword or a nice-to-have, but a quintessential part of how organisations, businesses and society operate.

The benefits of what the cloud offers are palpable: scalability, continuity, cost-efficiency, flexibility, accessibility and agility. In a time when every prediction, assumption and planning scenario was flipped upside down by the pandemic, there was a rush to `get into’ the cloud to adapt to the changes forced upon how we worked and lived. Now businesses are more specific in what they want to get out of the cloud in terms of their spend and performance. Just as the cloud has matured, so has the awareness of what is possible, available and, most importantly, developing. Companies are investing in a cloud strategy that allows them to keep in line with evolving cloud trends and take advantage of them as and how it becomes necessary.

For South African businesses, the uptake of cloud services has been enthusiastic and the understanding that the cloud is not a place or an end point, but a journey, has been vital to their ability to embrace trends.

The need and desire for hybrid, multicloud environments will continue to grow and should be the dominant, default model as enterprises seek to tailor flexible solutions that give them a greater choice and offers them the ability to scale up and down as their requirements change. The International Data Corporation said that by 2022, `over 90% of enterprises worldwide will be relying on a mix of on-premises/dedicated private clouds, multiple public clouds, and legacy platforms to meet their infrastructure needs’.

A hybrid approach

A hybrid approach allows for the ability to take advantage of the best of private and public clouds because for many businesses, an off-the-shelf, one-size-fits-all solution will not suit their needs. They get the scale and innovation of public cloud with the control, speed and customisation of a private, in-house cloud to ensure and enhance regulatory compliance and security.

The increased shift to multi-cloud has pushed some public cloud providers to change their offerings. Microsoft and Oracle entered into a partnership in 2019 that linked their clouds and allowed customers to migrate and run their systems across Oracle’s Cloud and Microsoft’s Azure. Some saw this as a tactic by the two to take on Amazon and Google, but it also points to a response by providers to the need some organisations have for different platforms for their various departments, applications and approaches.

There is a growing call for the big cloud providers to break down the barriers between them, and to build bridges between platforms. There are startups that have created solutions that will allow developers to build one application that can be deployed across platforms through containerisation. Breaking down the barriers will increase the speed of digital transformation for enterprises, offering a wider choice and flexibility.

The number of platforms that enable AI and automation are increasing, which will not only enable businesses to increase production and efficiencies, but can also impact and improve the speed and efficiency of the cloud by keeping datacentres running. Monitoring the amount of energy used will offer a cost and a green energy aspect to the bottom line of organisations.

Africa is a growing trend for the cloud market. Research company Gartner projected that end-users would spend $304.9 billion globally on public cloud services in 2021, up 18% from 2020. International investors had begun funding what the Financial Times called a `boom’ in the African cloud market back in March 2020, before the pandemic accelerated that growth. The big players of the cloud market see Africa as an opportunity, having established footprints on the continent, with Microsoft investing $100 million in a cloud development centre.

There was a clever headline on a report by Deloitte at the end of last year that read: `The cloud migration forecast: Cloudy with a chance of cloud.’ The cloud is not the future. It is the present.