Kathy Gibson reports – Despite cloud being mainstream for at least the last eight years, only 20% of workloads have moved to the public cloud.

One of the reasons for this is that moving to the public cloud is not always the cheapest option, says Mostafa Zafer, vice-president: data and AI, automation and security at IBM MEA.

Compliance, regulation, security concerns and many other challenges are also hindering the move to public cloud, he adds.

Hybrid cloud makes sense because there is a no single cloud that can deliver everything customers need, Zafer points out.

The Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown has taught companies some harsh lessons around the need to speed their digital transformation and automation efforts.

The disruption of coronavirus has underscored the immaturity of their digitalisation strategies in 79% of companies, according to a recent study by IBM. As a result, 96% say the pandemic will speed their digital reinvention by an average of 5,3 years.

Those companies already well advanced in digitalisation gained market share during Covid, because they were ready to shift and scale, Zafer says.

Zafer says customers have declared three core imperatives:

  • IT will becoming decentralised, open and secure. Today, 94% of IT organisations use multiple clouds and data platforms.
  • Automation will fuel the future of work – and it is believed that 120-billion hours per year of lower value work will be reclaimed.
  • Winners will scale the value of data with AI. Currently, 90% of enterprise data goes unanalysed.

He adds that IBM has extracted a number of lesson learned from 30 000 client engagements:

  • Hybrid cloud democratises IT and multiplies value;
  • AI predictions are transformative; and
  • Automation is inevitable.

According to IDC research for IBM, which polled 500 C-Suite executives across 12 industry sectors in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and South Africa, market forces are by far the biggest factor driving cloud adoption, with customers, suppliers and technology vendors pushing organisations to innovate and innovate faster.

The ability to enable agile responses in their internal and external customers is driving 64% of CIOs in META.

Meanwhile, the limited functionalities of on-premise options are forcing 37% of organisations to consider cloud

“The conversation in previous years was about why cloud, but this has now moved to why not,” says Harish Dunakhe, research director, Middle East, Turkey and Africa for software and cloud a IDC.

The existence of cloud-friendly data regulations is also driving cloud adoption, with 35% of CIOs identifying this as a major criterion.

Leveraging cloud to enable the productivity of employees particularly those working remotely, is a priority for 34% of organisations.

When it comes to the impact of cloud adoption on business priorities, a massive 49% of organisations consider cloud to be essential for creating new product, revenue streams and business models.

In addition, 49% of CIOs in the META region wish to prioritise business process transformation using cloud; and 46% see cloud as a foundational platform for digital innovation and for transformation of business processes rapidly, especially during uncertain times.

Other impacts include:

  • Enhance competitive advantage – 37%
  • Drive distributed work and/accelerate the future of work – 36%
  • Transform customer experience – 33%

Technology-led innovation tops the CIO agenda for 2021, with the technologies identified as:

  • Internet of Things – 70%
  • Software defined infrastructure – 62%
  • Edge computing – 39%
  • Artificial intelligence/machine learning – 67%
  • Robotic process automation – 44%

The cloud adoption journey is steadily moving towards maturity, Dunakhe says, with 53% of organisations already consuming discovery and evaulation, and running trials and pilot.

Meanwhile, 38% of organisations have progressed the cloud journey from planning to execution, with the actual implementation of business applications on cloud. Indeed, 11% of business critical applications are now running on the cloud.

When it comes to the pursuit of a hybrid cloud strategy, 31% or organisations in the region are currently pursuing a hybrid cloud strategy; and 54% are looking to or planning to pursue on. Only 15% are not looking t pursue a hybrid strategy,

Most companies the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Turkey have realised that having diversified deployment options can help them respond to uncertainties better and innovate faster to meet rapidly-evolving customer needs.

Among the strategic requirements for adopting hybrid cloud, companies in the META region have singled out the following:

  • Flexibility and significant cost savings  – 58%
  • Conducting testing and development – 51%
  • Run non-critical applications – 47%
  • Disaster recovery (DR) – 47%
  • Minimise complexity and maximise automation – 36%

The challenges of a hybrid cloud or multicloud strategy include:

  • Ensuring adequate IT talent and skills availability – 45%
  • Ensuring specific workloads run on the best cloud option – 41%
  • Ensuring consistent security, access control and compliance – 39%
  • Management vendor relationships and auditing contracts – 34%
  • Keeping up with the constantly changing cloud offerings and pricing models – 31%

Dunakhe concludes that most organisations have progressed from testing the waters to running business-critical workloads in the cloud, and are realising the expected benefits.

The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerate cloud adoption, and restricted mobility has compelled organisations to look at cloud for business resilience.

Among the countries in the survey, South Africa is more prone to cloud adoption, with many companies having accelerated their workload deployments over the last year.

Flexibility, interoperability and visible costs are the stand-out benefits of a hybrid cloud deployment.

“We believe the hybrid cloud adoption trend will continue for the next four to five years,” Dunakhe adds.