Cloud – ubiquitous yet still feared by many

October 8th, 2014, Published in Articles: EE Publishers, Articles: EngineerIT, Featured: EE Publishers

 

Cloud is everywhere; most people use cloud services without being aware of it. Who does not search on Google, send large files on Dropbox, and emails on Gmail or Yahoo?  Yet many are still wary of the technology and are resistant to taking their company’s operations into the cloud.

Grant Hutchons, Gijima

Grant Hutchons, Gijima

Grant Hutchons, ICT service assets executive, Gijima says that the barrier to cloud is historical. Perhaps there has been too much hype too soon and delivery was not there. There still exists an element of fear about security but if you think about it cloud service providers are very aware of their responsibility and because of their size can put more security resources into the system than a small or even a medium sized company can afford to spend.

“There is a fundamental and profound change happening in the manner in which IT services are being delivered for both large and small enterprises,” says Hutchons. “The unique value of cloud lies in the development, management, brokering and integration of the cloud ecosystem. This will enable the use of client-specific cloud roadmaps that are suited to particular enterprise objectives, and which may comprise boxed or custom developed private, public and hybrid cloud solutions.

“The importance of technology in creating business value is emphasised by the renewed interest by businesses in the potential worth of social media, mobility, and complex information and data (or big data).

“Cloud offerings must include the management of business processes, software, platforms and infrastructure as a service, and must cover IT from being the enabler of core business strategy and processes to infrastructure and virtual workspaces. Our approach is twofold: introduce revolutionary new ideas and applications that unlock business value, while providing an aggregated and evolutionary smart delivery channel for new and traditional IT services,” said Hutchons.

Craig Freer, VOX Telecom,

Craig Freer, Vox Telecom,

Perhaps one of the barriers to entry into cloud is that many providers have been using a shotgun approach rather than offering cloud services as a single strategy, “Vox has been offering cloud services for many years but we recently realised that a shotgun approach is more of a barrier  than an  incentive to enter into the cloud. We seriously looked at that and decided to develop an integrated approach. We have now launched what we simply call Vox cloud,” said Craig Freer, head of product, Vox Telecom.

Current research shows that 27% of SMMEs use cloud services, which is up  from the 9% of users only three years ago. “I believe that SMME users will double in the next 24 months. Cloud services will grow from R2-billion this year to R4,1-billion while during the same period South African companies will shed 25 to 30% of their IT infrastructure”, said Freer.  “This growth into the cloud is largely a result of economic factors including the rapidly evolving technology, technology obsolescence and below inflation market growth.”

Freer says the factors such as decreasing bandwidth costs and availability, as well as shared infrastructure drives costs down, and seems to drive companies toward cloud services.

All this does not mean companies have lost their fear of the cloud. Factors such as multiple vendors will require complex integration of technology and processes, network redundancy, and questions around the vendor’s cloud experience. What about compliance with information protection legislation? How will the requirements of the regulations soon to be finalised in terms of the  Protection of Private Information (POPI) Act  be handled?  All this creates uncertainty with regard to cloud. And that reasoning is justified. Cloud came in with a bang. Companies sprang up overnight,  offering cloud services, mostly with no experience or the required infrastructure.

Today South Africa has many experienced companies specialising in cloud service.  Moving into the cloud successfully requires companies to know the provider, its experience, capabilities and successes with other companies. Just because a company wants to keep its own financial data, does not prevent it moving other services into the cloud. There is also private cloud which many companies set up to handle confidential and competitive information.

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