Kathy Gibson is at Gartner Symposium in Cape Town – By 2025, more than 85% of South African companies will have a cloud-first strategy.

This is according to Milind Govekar, research vice-president of Gartner.

“Cloud-first is not just about what cloud can do for you – more importantly, it is about what cloud can’t do for you,” he adds.

“And cloud-first doesn’t mean cloud always,” he adds. “There will always be some workloads running on-premise.”

Organisations need to look at securing, managing, and managing cost in the cloud world.

The percentage of organisations adopting cloud services is growing rapidly. From 2016 to 2017, that percentage jumped from 55% to 77%.

“In South Africa, about 60% of organisations use cloud services today, with the market worth about $150-million.”

But about 85% of local companies will increase their cloud budget next year. “And we are seeing this across Africa,” Govekar says.

He reiterates that cloud is a style of computing where scalable, elastic computing is delivered to customers using Internet technologies.

The main benefits of cloud include agility, cost reductions, less complexity, more focus, self-service and a platform for innovation.

The top fear about cloud is security, but Govekar points out that the cloud service providers can probably offer better security than on-premise environments

In fact, cloud providers’ security instances are expected to go down about 60% over the next couple of years. “If you have a security issue in the cloud, it is probably your fault,” Govekar adds.

The reality is that cloud is mainstream, and companies are moving from a cloud-first strategy to a cloud + edge infrastructure.

Cloud is also rapidly becoming the platform for many other capabilities.

“And there are some predictable patterns that we are seeing as a result of this.” Typically, certain workloads are gravitating to specific cloud providers, Govekar says.

“Companies are asking if they should put their whole IT infrastructure into the cloud. The answer is, of course, no. The entire strategy must be multi-faceted.”

When companies start to build their cloud strategy, they need to start with understanding what outcomes they want.

“The other big challenge with cloud, I’ve found, is that for every service you know you have, there are 10 services you don’t know about. So part of the cloud strategy has to be about, not control, but visibility and co-ordination. This way you can start getting some cloud benefits – like a negotiated enterprise pricing regime.”

The second part of the strategy is to determine principles, and deciding what will guide your decisions and actions.

Among these are an exit strategy and security/risk considerations.

The final leg of the strategy is metrics, being able to measure what you have achieved, Govekar says.

So far, what cloud has brought to organisations is efficiency, availability, scale, consistency, choice, improvements, agility and irrational fear.

What it has also brought is modernisation of the data centre, consumerisation, new ways of considering risk, automation, continuous integration, new vendor landscapes, governance issues, layered strategies, new citizen behaviours and even things like DevOps.

“In the traditional space, we evolved technologies for efficiency, consumerisation and productivity. In the cloud, these gave us agile deployment, massive scale, economies of scale and rapid innovation,” Govekar says.

For users it gave them local intelligence, local data, local interaction, low latency and realtime processing.

Cloud drives digital and will help to bring about a new shape and mix of IT, Govekar says.

“When we look at this mix from a capability point of view, you are looking at hybrid IT,” he points out.

He recommends that companies think about setting up a cloud competency centre that holds new roles such as a cloud architect who will help companies to avoid the same mistakes they make on-premise in the cloud.

“As you are charting the journey to the cloud, it will be a hybrid journey,” Govekar says.

Depending on how an organisation’s mix pans out, they need to chart their cloud journey to match that, he adds.

Hybrid IT requires a trusted broker and provider for all IT services from many providers and styles.

Every new system or technology is based on the cloud platform. In fact, in 2018, cloud  has become the baseline for everything, Govekar says.

“The cloud centre of excellence is going to do a lot of placing the workload on the correct cloud service.”

Public cloud services are increasing while things like on-premise private cloud are expected to stabilise at around the 35% mark.

Cost-saving and agility are the top reasons for using public cloud. They are followed by innovation, IT modernisation, application development, standardisation and the execution mandate.

There are many flavours of cloud computing, Govekar says. These include cloud-enabled, cloud-inspired, pure cloud and cloud-enhanced.

There is no good or bad flavour, he adds. “But all these clouds exist in your organisation.”

Going forward, Internet of Things ecosystems are dependent on cloud computing. “Innovation in this space is happening at a very rapid pace,” he adds.

Cloud architectures have moved from cloud hosting to cloud-optimised, cloud-native and software as a service. The next trend is going to be about re-imagining the cloud to be multi-purpose and multi-tenant with an almost Netflix-like experience.

On their journey to the cloud, organisations have found that core systems take the longest to migrate and might never be migrated,

Gartner recommends that companies put together a cloud adoption framework as part of their strategy, as a way of driving change rather than just letting it happen.

“Lead cloud with a cloud architect,” he adds. “This role is going to be fundamentally important.”

Among the things the cloud architect will be responsible for are workload migration patterns.

“It is going to be a multi-cloud journey, and how are you going to migrate workloads from one cloud to another? What is your exit strategy? And do you have multi-provider skills?”

Not all cloud providers are created equal, Govekar adds, and some are more secure and financially stable. “Having a plan in place to manage risk is going to be part of the strategy as well.”

Govekar concludes that cloud computing is now the primary option for IT organisations.