The recent launch of multinational data centres in the country and the pipeline of new ones arriving in the next few years will fundamentally change the cloud market in South Africa.

Ralph Berndt, sales and marketing director at Syrex, believes organisations who have been previously undecided about the cloud, have now woken up to its potential.

“Even though the pressure to migrate [to the cloud] has been significant when looking at the competitive environment, traditionalists have been holding off to make the shift for a number of reasons. Considerations around compliance and security in addition to the speed of access were concerns. However, these have now been addressed thanks to local Azure access being available,” he says.

More recently, the availability of Office 365 on South African data centres has given further impetus for a move towards an online environment. Companies are now looking at migrating their applications, services, and security to a more operational solution in the cloud as opposed to investing in on-premise offerings.

“While there will always be those organisations who will have elements of on-premise solutions in place, hybrid environments will become more commonplace. These provide the best of both worlds and still give the peace of mind needed for those decision-makers who want to maintain their perceived control over their data. However, with the cyber threat landscape rapidly evolving, the investment needed to effectively protect on-premise data will become unaffordable to many,” says Berndt.

The past few months have seen several companies testing the waters when it comes to the cloud by migrating things such as email, enterprise resource planning applications, customer relationship management applications, as well as file sharing. This provides a good way to experience the benefits of the cloud first-hand while still leaving some mission-critical systems in an on-premise environment.

“Once the performance and efficiency benefits are realised, then discussions turn to moving more strategic systems to the cloud. However, it must be remembered that despite the availability, security, and cost benefits in going the online route, data still needs to travel from the company to the data centres. This is where a shared responsibility approach becomes crucial.”

This entails an organisation taking responsibility for the security of its data while in an on-premise setup as well as in getting it to the data centre. Yes, the service provider can manage all aspects around security when the data is there, but it has very little influence in safeguarding it on the journey unless this has been scoped and designed correctly.

“Cyber security solutions that cater for both the on-premise and online environments are becoming increasingly important and relevant in this digitally-driven market. With data protection being a fundamental aspect of all businesses these days, organisations must have the assurances that this most valuable asset and intellectual property is kept safe.”

He feels that local data centres have now provided the spark necessary to drive a cloud-first approach from both security and data availability perspectives.

“Customers have been looking towards cloud solutions that have historically been beyond reach due to latency and distance. With Azure being localised, there is now more of a drive to build applications into a platform-as-a-service environment on hyper-scale. This will extend to security and protecting data as well as maintaining reliable access to that data. These are exciting times for the cloud market in all of Africa and all organisations would do well to embrace this opportunity,” he concludes.