Fear, misperception biggest obstacles to cloud adoption in SA
Dec 03,2013 0 Comments
A lack of understanding of the practical implications of moving into the cloud is keeping South African companies from huge cost-saving and efficiency improving benefits, according to Alexander Mehlhorn, CEO of software development company Framework One.
“In many of our interactions with clients, there is an inherent fear over the security of their information in the cloud. This, coupled with low confidence in our broadband connectivity is keeping many organisations out of the cloud – often with huge cost implications.”
Huge cost savings
According to Mehlhorn, companies only stand to gain from adopting cloud based services. “The cloud services industry has matured to the point where a physical server room is all but obsolete. By using cloud based services, you save a huge amount of money on physical infrastructure, lower your risk in terms of backups, and since you’re not spending a large chunk of time, money and effort on maintaining physical server infrastructure, you free yourself up to focus on the more important things – like running a profitable business.”
Physical server rooms can be incredibly expensive to run. Depending on the size of the organisation, you could end up spending millions on top-end blade servers. But the costs only start there. “You’ll need additional building space to house the servers, air conditioning to keep them cool, security measures to protect data in case of a disaster, additional bandwidth, a team of dedicated support staff that can ensure 24/7 availability, and a robust backup solution. If you were running your business in the cloud, the cloud service provider would be managing all of this. Plus, if there’s a fire and your entire office burns down, you can simply access your data remotely via the cloud, with no disruption to your normal business practices,” explains Mehlhorn.
Key issues holding back cloud adoption
He says there’s a lack of understanding among local business owners that hampers cloud service adoption. “The two most common concerns we encounter when meeting new clients are security and lack of bandwidth. In terms of security, let’s say you take your services to the cloud on a platform such as Windows Azure and Office 365. Microsoft now looks after the security of your data – chances are they’re doing a better job than you could, simply because they will run more frequent tests and have access to more talented and experienced security consultants that you simply can’t afford. Most companies won’t be able to even come close to the level of security of mainstream cloud service providers.”
On bandwidth, Mehlhorn says companies often underestimate how much data a physical server room uses. “In the traditional company model, you have a server room at your headquarters that all branches lead into through the main data pipe. All company data is channelled through here – email, browsing, all of it. Move into the cloud, suddenly each branch connects directly to the cloud. Since you’re fetching data directly from the cloud instead of data being pushed to your device by a server, you only use data on the pieces of information you are actually interested in. And if you need additional capacity, it’s easy enough to upscale, without any expensive investments in infrastructure.”
He adds that the trend of bring-your-own-device (BYOD) means staff are accessing email through smartphones and tablets in addition to their company laptops or desktop machines. “If you’re running a physical Exchange server, all emails are pushed to every connected device regardless of whether the mails are needed on that particular device. This exponentially increases the amount of data going through the company’s main pipe.”
A shift in skills
While moving to the cloud removes the need for server technicians, it does mean you’ll need to employ a technician to look after the cloud services. “You’re going to need someone that focuses on ensuring all the cloud services are running optimally, and to make recommendations for new services that can provide business benefits. However, in this regard there’s a big opportunity for educating IT professionals.”
Mehlhorn says IT technicians often struggle to get to grips with cloud services. “There’s a loss of control – IT no longer has access to the nitty-gritty of the various services. Instead of having access to the deeper levels of code that they’d traditionally have, they now interact with the services via a console. This, coupled with a fear that cloud services will make certain job functions redundant, makes IT professionals resistant to adopting the cloud – with potentially huge implications for the organisation. Overcoming this fear is often the biggest practical obstacle for companies who wish to evolve to a modern cloud-first organisation.”