Cloud computing initiatives are seeing rapid acceleration in the local market, says Clinton Jacobs, analyst at BMI-TechKnowledge. The BMI-T SA Data Centre and Cloud Services study estimates that cloud services will grow from R2.6 billion in 2015 to R6.4 billion by 2020. This is over and above the more traditional data centre services such as colocation and hosting services.
There is in excess of 50 000 square metres of commercial white space available in data centres in South Africa, with 60% average utilisation.
Connectivity has traditionally been an objection to cloud adoption but there is now around 26 000km of private sector metro fibre installed in South Africa.
In terms of the journey to the cloud South African companies are taking on the process thoughtfully, typically, starting with cloud communications applications, or developing and testing environments.
“We can also observe the idea of ‘bimodal IT’, originally mooted by Gartner,” Jacobs says. “This means remaining stable in operations on the one hand, but also agile enough to adopt and build innovation into the business.” BMI-T is seeing that trailblazers are looking to cloud computing to be more agile and gain competitive advantage.
“Cost control is still key in the current economic environment,” Jacobs adds. “Companies expect their ICT providers to come to the party to help them manage costs. They expect to spend the same or less on IT, but gain more value, and improve reliability.”
Skills shortage is a problem throughout the cloud services industry and market. The scarcity of skills has overtaken security as the crucial challenge in IT cloud delivery globally.
That said, security remains an essential element in any IT discussion, especially cloud services. Service providers have solved many of these issues and have turned what was an objection to cloud services into a real value proposition.
BMI-T identified disaster recovery as another key driver, with cloud computing changing the landscape here as well. Disaster recovery as a service allows companies to ‘spin up’ new instances quickly and relatively easily.
Big data, analytics and mobility are dominant trends in the market but having data without gaining insights from it is of no value. Jacobs point out that the key lies in analysing data to create new value and competitive advantage, in real time.
Data sovereignty is a challenge, but this is being addressed with Cloud providers providing innovative options to overcome this; as well as positive developments locally in compliance and legislation.