Cloud service providers are set to continue increasing their presence in South Africa, while meeting local clients’ enterprise computing and storage needs.

By Eugene De Souza, regional cloud ecosystem lead at Red Hat

Just last year, Amazon Web Services (AWS) committed to investing R30-billion in the country over the next 10 years. The commitment came just as the company opened its first international skills centres in Cape Town and coincides with the launch of a local Amazon e-commerce platform, set to take place later this year.

This demonstrates the role hyperscalers play in providing cloud services as well as their influence in the development of digital skills needed to sustain the ecosystem and overall confidence in the local market.

However, AWS is just one of the major players. Organisations have their pick of hyperscalers that each offer comprehensive packages and solutions.

Not only must business and IT leaders decide whether to stick with just one provider or take a multi-cloud approach, but also determine how those packages accommodate their applications for optimised performance and maximum growth.

An evolving value proposition

Let’s be frank, building effective cloud architectures from scratch is out of reach for many local enterprises, especially if they’ve just begun to consider the potential of business digitalisation. In the face of enterprises abandoning traditional, on-premise infrastructure in favour of the cloud, hyperscalers offer computing and storage services that can then scale upwards as the organisation grows.

Of course, for many, it boils down to a question of cost. This is why committed spend remains one of the biggest factors when choosing what cloud provider to partner with. Providers will offer discounts in exchange for organisations committing to spend a portion of their budget with them, thus giving an incentive towards the purchase as well as savings that escalate the bigger the purchase becomes.

It’s important to note that, during the last few years, hyperscalers’ value proposition has evolved as the cloud becomes the new standard for any business.

Hyperscalers are becoming procurement centres for customers who make large committed spend agreements to fulfill their multi- and hybrid cloud strategies. As spending on cloud services in South Africa is expected to increase in 2024, the onus will be on providers to make their value offering explicitly clear to customers.

The list of criteria

Sourcing the services of a hyperscale cloud provider doesn’t involve your standard procurement process. By their nature, hyperscalers are invested in their customers reaching their relevant organisational goals. Hence, prospective customers should view them as a business partner that enables growth.

There are certain factors that drive the value that hyperscalers offer. Organisations should consider the following:

* Cost and ecosystem: In addition to committed spend agreements, organisations should look are how hyperscalers are investing in capacity, resources, and partnerships to expand their capabilities and, subsequently, offer increased financial value to their ecosystem.

* Interoperability: South African companies cannot afford to spend time and capital having to retrofit their applications to be compatible with the cloud environment they want to migrate to.

* Partner opportunities: In light of hyperscalers becoming procurement centres, organisations must consider what industry and software partners they have relationships with. This also helps facilitate the important aspect of interoperability, where organisations need to integrate the platform with their existing systems.

* Scalability: Though an organisation should never rush the migration or development process, hyperscalers should be positioned to efficiently and reliably handle any IT changes or data transfers at any given time.

* Expertise: With the high demand for cloud skills in South Africa, hyperscalers are a source of knowledge and technical expertise that organisations can leverage.

Important: Always have a plan

Before even thinking about which hyperscaler to work with, South African enterprises need to have an idea of what utility they want to derive from cloud infrastructure. When choosing a provider, consider your workloads and applications, resource requirements, as well as your security and compliance requirements.

All these aspects form part of a cloud mindset, where collaboration is essential for success. Enterprises should involve all the parties that play a role in building and maintaining their enterprise IT infrastructure, ensuring both interoperability and a successful, cost-efficient migration process.