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The race to remain relevant: Mounting pressure shifts cloud adoption

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As the third wave of technology growth descends on Africa, cloud remains its biggest force. Driving the ever-changing digital transformation, cloud has become the key driver for global enterprises to adopt cloud applications, relevant infrastructure and new technologies. This is particularly evident in the financial and corporate sector, where legacy equipment is reaching end-of-life, and organisations are starting to look to a platform approach for its data centre requirements.

Jan Hindzo

In this way, they can enjoy the same benefits as if they are still on-premise, but with the added advantages of being in a globally ranked data centre. These include costs savings, access to an African cloud exchange, colocation facilities, interconnections and an open market for consumers and providers of connectivity, content and services.

In essence, the enterprise is at last becoming digital. This step change, according to Ernst & Young, is even greater than the internet. There are exponential technology advances, greater consumer power and increased competition driving this shift. We are seeing increased eCommerce: everything is coming online, there is growing interest in on-premise data centre options, access to connectivity is key, while there is a still strong drive to lower connectivity costs.

The cloud landscape

Globally, the picture is skewed and not comparable to Africa. Cloud adoption is potentially becoming increasingly mainstream with a plateau predicted through 2020 as these markets mature. Locally, we know the curve remains steep, but that it is full of potential as enterprises start to drive more significant growth in infrastructure services.

There is a growing sense of urgency for digital infrastructure and edge computing strategies as enterprise businesses recognise that they are at a risk of becoming irrelevant. Operating models need to adjust and the realisation will sink in that a one-size-fits all approach to data centres and cloud concepts are not going to fit any longer.

Prepare for a shift

Expect the new digital infrastructures and edge scenarios to go beyond previous boundaries, introducing new paradigms that an enterprise, no matter how educated, will battle to address in isolation. Long term, these same enterprises need to address talent management and what is required for this new digital approach to infrastructure.

To innovate, while also addressing emerging trends, within an enterprise requires a board-level approach. Implementing any kind of technology or approach in isolation will not achieve overarching goals of digitilisation.

Previously, collaboration was defined by how a solution can be built, whether it was an application or a service, addressing how this would fit into the current architecture. This approach, while dated, also constrains the possibilities of the solution and limits the architecture to the point where adaption to changing needs is not possible.

Collaboration moving forward will shift. Based on the impending move from a physical infrastructure-focused approach to one where applications garner more interest, it will be a decisive move away from a traditional IT architecture approach. Architecture and infrastructure will no longer dominate, and the focus will be on a service-driven methodology. Key to this is asking the right questions. The most important of which is not “how can this be built” but a more collaborative “where can we find this” approach.

Over the years, business-driven IT initiatives have often taken place outside a traditional IT scope and budget. It is here that we have seen rapid growth of technologies such as the internet of things (IoT) and other edge computing solutions.

Enterprise adoption

As enterprises play catch up with these non-traditional IT approaches, they will naturally embrace and possibly even more willingly adopt a more cloud-centred approach.

Central to this is really what Gartner discusses at length when asking if the data centre is dead. What is becoming abundantly clear is that on-premise in the larger sense is dying and according to Gartner, by 2025, only 20% of the enterprise sector data centres will remain functional. By then, 80% will be closed which is a massive shift when you consider that currently 90% of enterprise data centres today are still working.

It’s not to say that this shift will be a rip and replace. Systems that are seen as mission critical, older platforms that can’t be changed or are too tightly integrated will remain on-premise. Interconnection and colocation will become key to an enterprise strategy as they seek ways to become more agile, innovative and competitive.

Contact Sven Blom, Teraco, Tel 011 573-2800, sven@teraco.co.za

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