While moving to the cloud might be easier than overhauling on-premise systems, there are still obstacles to overcome.
Ryan Jamieson, solutions and innovation officer at Altron Karabina, says many companies underestimate the costs of migration and the level of planning required.
“Five years ago, one of the biggest inhibitors to making the transition was a lack of high-speed bandwidth. However, the roll out of fibre and the arrival of 4G have made it affordable to get the connectivity necessary for moving organisations to the cloud.”
But, he cautions, this is just one of the challenges.
“Companies need to ask themselves what applications they need to migrate? This is where an application affinity map becomes vital. Even though most CIOs have an idea of what must be moved, this knowledge is more than likely stuck in someone’s head or the map might be several years old.”
Perhaps more concerning is the impact that moving one application to the cloud will have on the rest of the organisational ecosystem and whether systems will still function as normal. There is a very real risk that the business might be negatively impacted if core solutions are migrated without considering how everything fits together.
“This is where the value of working with a trusted partner comes in. Having the right expertise, a proven track record in migrating organisations to the cloud, and delivering value-added services become imperative elements in selecting the right service provider that can effectively assist a company.”
Furthermore, one of the biggest shifts around the cloud has been the changing focus around security concerns.
“In recent times, the discussion has progressed from pure cyber security to one that is more focused on compliance. This is especially pertinent with the Protection of Personal Information Act and other regulatory issues. Fortunately, many of these questions have been addressed by the arrival of the Microsoft Azure multinational data centres in the country and the implementation in Europe of the General Data Protection Regulation.”
According to Jamieson, security concerns only start coming to the fore once the business has moved to the cloud.
“Decision-makers then ask themselves whether they have the methodology and the tools available to identify potential security issues and resolve them. In our experience, many of these challenges revolve around a lack of using best practices when it comes to the migration to the cloud. Of course, these issues would be addressed when managing the migration in conjunction with the help of a trusted partner that takes the time to understand the business requirements, and plans accordingly.”
While the pressure is on when it comes to digital transformation, companies need to be aware of how the cloud can be leveraged to drive innovation from a technology perspective. The environment is ideal to use cloud capabilities such as cognitive services instead of relying on on-premise servers which are onerous, expensive, and challenging to manage.
He says that the arrival of Microsoft Azure in South Africa, enables a business to more effectively put budget aside to utilise aspects such as machine-learning, quickly spin up a feature, and kill it off if does not deliver on the expected investment.
For example, a rental vehicle company must continually valuate its fleet using a dedicated professional to do so. However, if machine-learning is introduced on top of using cloud capabilities, the process can be automated to minutes instead of days and not be locked in someone’s head.
“Irrespective of what is migrated or when it happens, planning is fundamental. That is why a five-step approach should be followed that can better prepare an organisation for the task at hand.”
The steps are assessments (understanding what must be transitioned and budgeting accordingly); the move itself; validating what is being done; optimisation of the cloud environment; and managing it.
“The business focus is changing. New skills are being developed that was unimaginable a few years ago. Today, people do not even have to know what a server looks like as everything is born in the cloud. It is now not having to worry about physical hardware but rather adopting a mindset revolving around what is needed virtually. The cloud is about providing business customers with additional capabilities beyond just storage and server work space. It entails leveraging digital innovations using sophisticated technologies that operate from the cloud, instead of being limited to what is available on-site.”
He says that the cloud is no longer a nice-to-have, but something that is business-critical.
“Everything we do is internet-based. The entire world is now driven by what is being done online. The sooner a business realises this, plans accordingly, and embraces the cloud, the better it will be in the long run.