The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has flipped the traditional ‘at-the-office 9-5’ convention on its head and today many businesses are facilitating the work-from-home model – which has also served as a catalyst for increased cloud adoption and services implementation, says Obsidian Systems MD Muggie van Staden.

The company, a leading provider of end-to-end digital services and solutions, was one of the first organisations in South Africa to bring the Open Source offering Hadoop to the market. It was also one of the first to investigate cloud and opted for AWS.

“AWS was our decision, we had to pick one and we’re very lucky that we did pick AWS … with the massive success that they’ve had, we’ve been able to harness that for ourselves and our customers,”

Van Staden says that cloud has definitely changed the world, with Covid being one of the biggest accelerators of digital transformation.

“So we’ve been lucky enough with the decisions we’ve made over the years and realising cloud would change the world was one of them, and gearing ourselves to be able to harness that has definitely been part of our journey.”

For South African companies, the discussion over cloud adoption and the business case to migrate has evolved.

Van Staden draws similarities between past discussions with corporates regarding open source adoption and use, and current discussions regarding cloud.

“Over the years we’ve gotten better at explaining to people why these things make sense. And if we think specifically around cloud, it is interesting about two or three things ago, if you spoke to the banks about cloud, most of them would say ‘sorry it’s not something we are considering, regulatory reasons, security reasons etc’ … until probably about 18 months ago, suddenly every bank had an executive responsible for cloud. So they went from ‘its’ impossible’ to ‘now we need a cloud executive to make sure we do it right’.”

The pandemic has forced businesses to heighten their awareness of what technology solutions are available and how this infrastructure can support a new way of doing things, says van Staden, adding that while governance remains an issue, the presence of major cloud players in South Africa has increased confidence around cloud services investment.

Van Staden adds: “I think in the South African context, the biggest challenge that people still have is around the understanding of governance, with things like POPI and GDPR. But I think as more and more big banks start engaging with Software as a Service or just Infrastructure as a Service from different cloud providers, those things are being addressed with the regulator. And also now that we have most of the big cloud players having datacentres in South Africa also helps. But, it is still a slow process, I think that that is one of the big drivers.”