Data centres are the hub of today’s organisations, housing mission-critical servers, data, applications and services that keep businesses running, says Gert Schoonbee, MD of T-Systems in South Africa. 

However, with the growth of cloud platforms, organisations are increasingly looking to move not only their applications and services to a hosted model, but even their data centres.

Given the strategic nature of the data centre, innovation on the part of the service provider delivering cloud data centres and services is critical. Data centre and cloud services innovation enables organisations to take advantage of best-of-breed infrastructure and improve their offering and ability to deliver services and products – ultimately creating an important competitive edge.

A growing trend in South Africa and across the world is the outsourcing of data centre capability, as well as various components and services within ICT. The reasons for this revolve around the ability for organisations to provision services more quickly and at a lower cost, without having to invest in their own data centre infrastructure, which can be an expensive and a risky exercise.

The cloud services delivery model, and the data centre, which is the basis upon which these services are delivered, offer a host of benefits for organisations. These include the ability to move the data centre and related services to operational expenses, rather than capital expenses, along with increased scalability and flexibility.

This allows organisations to increase or decrease capacity on demand and deploy services much quicker than in a traditional IT environment.

This agility enables organisations to close the distance between themselves and their customers, by responding to their demands and delivering services that will add value. The cloud also enables organisations to better leverage technologies such as mobility, big data and collaboration, which again help to close the distance between business and customers.

Before moving to the cloud, however, it is important to bear several key criteria in mind. Firstly, it is critical to define the business case for migrating, in order to understand cloud strategy and have an end goal in mind that will deliver value to the business. It is also necessary to understand the application and process environment, and if a cloud migration is possible or desirable.

Organisations must also make the decision on public, private or hybrid cloud, and develop a cloud roadmap to oversee the migration.

An innovative cloud service provider will be able to assist organisations with all of these steps, to ensure that cloud migrations are not only the best decision for business, but will deliver maximum returns.

Choosing a service provider is therefore a critical decision, as it is vital to have a trusted relationship with a proven provider that will ensure data security and the delivery of services that will enhance the agility of an organisation.

From a technology standpoint, the cloud is critical in creating competitive advantage, providing a platform for emerging technologies in a flexible, scalable and accessible environment that enables better customer service.

All of the benefits of the cloud, however, rely on innovation from the service provider. To enable organisations to truly leverage the benefits of the cloud, cloud service providers must bring in the innovation, with a thorough understanding of the market, so that organisations, their customers can benefit from this and develop a competitive edge.