It has been several months since the launch of the two Microsoft Azure data centres in South Africa. And as expected, this has resulted in many organisations looking for ways to move their on-premise data environments to the cloud.
By Reghard van Jaarsveld, engagement manager at Decision Inc.
But apart from the obvious, what has changed to see this influx of interest?
It has become common to find hybrid (combining on-premise with cloud) solutions within a broader market segment than before. In fact, decision-makers today are typically having conversations with service providers around what elements of their systems they need to migrate to the cloud and what should remain on-premise.
To this end, there are four main factors driving interest in moving to the cloud when it comes to data.
Firstly, latency. Companies feel that local data centres will reduce the latency challenges when working with large datasets. This is especially important when dealing with analytics where response times are critical. And with the shift towards artificial intelligence taking place, having data centres in the country mean high-performance computing can be accessed faster than ever.
Secondly, the cloud results in reduced maintenance (and the associated costs). For companies with small IT teams and limited capacity, this becomes a significant competitive advantage.
Additionally, integration into the Microsoft ecosystem has become an easier journey than it was previously. Local businesses can now access a varied application set with more local cloud-based offerings expected to become available towards the end of this year and the beginning of 2020.
And finally, having the option to adopt a pay-per-use model is a massive advantage. With the cloud offering consumption-based pricing, companies not only save in the short-term, but budgets can be more easily planned for in the long-term as well.
Of course, this does not mean companies do not have reservations when it comes to migrating to the cloud.
A big concern decision-makers have when it comes to cloud migrations is that of compliance. The legal responsibility for protecting sensitive information in a highly regulated environment is of utmost importance. Failing to comply can result in significant financial and reputational damage. However, given that the data centres fall within the borders of the country, questions around data sovereignty have largely been addressed.
Another hurdle to overcome is investments made in existing systems. This is especially relevant if hardware and software have been upgraded recently. Some businesses have also experienced delays in infrastructure and getting high-speed fibre access into their buildings.
Despite these challenges, service providers are seeing an increase in deals with companies looking to make the cloud transition. While many companies do not have the appetite, budget, and infrastructure in place to start data-related projects, Microsoft Azure has enabled service providers to deliver more frequent data projects at a lower cost.
This drives benefits to both consultancies and clients as agreements are now put in place more frequently without exposing either party to a significant amount of risk. This also enables clients to assess their interest in migrating more systems to the cloud.
Within the data space, many companies are looking to centralise their data in the cloud. This drives usage and consumption of products that range from Azure Data Integration Tools to Azure Storage Mediums.
With most local companies still getting comfortable with basic cloud offerings, not many are exploring going hyperscale yet. However, as the local market starts maturing, this is certainly going to be an expectation for the future.