The cloud infrastructure market is likely to be the battleground of the immediate future. Globally, the cloud is booming with the combined public cloud infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS) segments forecast to have revenues of $400 billion in 2025.
Within these, application development and testing, structured data management, and structured data analytics will be the most significant workload segments by revenue share.
Cloud infrastructure forms the building blocks of what businesses need to maintain operations today and in the future.
Those Sub-Saharan African (SSA) businesses still sitting on the fence when it came to the merits of embracing the cloud have received a wake-up call given developments of the past 18 months.
No longer can companies ignore the digital transformation required to ensure their systems, processes, data, and applications are ready for the cloud.
Moving to hybrid
According to the Flexera 2021 State of the Cloud Report, 82% of enterprises globally already have a hybrid cloud strategy in place to address many business challenges.
These range from time to market, meeting customer demand, better analysing data, and equipping an increasingly remote workforce with the means to remain effective when not in a traditional office environment.
Local companies have increasingly woken up to the potential of the hybrid multi-cloud – a scenario where they can choose the cloud service providers that best meet specific business requirements.
There will not be a single homogeneous cloud environment where a company consumes from a single public cloud hyperscaler like Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, or Google. Instead, enterprises will use various providers to compliment the sensitive data they have stored in their private clouds.
Turning away from legacy
By adopting a hybrid multi-cloud approach, companies inject flexibility into transitioning from legacy systems to the modern era of cloud computing. Central to this shift from the traditional ways of doing things is the need for trusted cloud provider partners that understand the challenges businesses face. In doing so, they can develop an ecosystem of cloud solutions that address those obstacles and position the business for future growth.
But it is not good enough to only rely on the popular hyperscalers. There is a clear need to bolster what these environments can deliver when built in tandem with SSA partners’ local knowledge and understanding. Yes, local should always be preferred, and when selecting a local version of your cloud, you are longer tied to any specific ecosystem – you derive multi-cloud support wherever you need to go.
With digital-first strategies being the order of the day, data sovereignty, compliance, and latency have emerged as the three legs of an increasingly complex pyramid that is evolving as newer technology becomes available.
Selecting the right environment
The private cloud will be the destination of choice for both existing and cloud-native application workloads.
It can deliver on the high-performance computing capabilities, scalability, and agility of the public cloud. While still providing the attributes required by companies for their more critical applications.
Delivering further impetus to this is the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), as well as South Africa’s Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) and the National Policy on Data and Cloud that the government in the country is proposing. Both these legal frameworks take a dim view of organisations breaking data sovereignty restrictions.
This means that digital data is subject to the country’s laws in which it is located, putting the onus on companies to take responsibility for managing their data in different geographic locations.
Compliance requires a careful balancing act between data that is resident and sovereign. The former is data that is local and stored within the borders of a country. However, things like metadata and account information are not necessarily only stored within a country, and a company has little control over where the hyperscaler chooses to host that data.
Flexibility to grow
Latency (the time it takes to access data stored in the cloud) is another significant concern for organisations that need as much real-time information as possible to be competitive. Latency in data exchanges between cloud services spread across the internet and different countries can be significant. In a world where every second counts, the knock-on effect of this can be substantial.
This delay can result in higher costs to users of multiple cloud services, which may mean that a business becomes locked into a single provider’s solutions.
The need for local cloud providers with global skills become imperative as they can address these issues without complicating the processes required from their customers.
The added benefit of collaborating with these innovative partners is having invoicing done in the local currency, meeting with the account manager instead of having to deal with a foreign call centre and getting a flexible contract in place that reflects the realities of doing business in Africa.
While the hyper-cloud will be the future of business regardless of the industry sector, to realise all its benefits requires companies to work with local partners/clouds.
This local flavour can give them the best in global best practices while having unique local insights into what delivers the best benefit at the most compelling price point.