Taking advantage of the cloud in a tough economy

cloud computing tech metro africa

Internet traffic has grown around 15% in South Africa since the lockdown to fight COVID-19 spread.

More tangibly, the internet exchange point provider NAPAfrica has been experiencing consistent traffic of over 1 Tbps for all but the early hours of the morning since the lockdown began – a record surge.

Only, it’s not a surge, is it? Surges suggest a climbdown somewhere in the horizon. But the jump in internet consumption is unlikely to drop by much. What began as a means to an end – working remotely to keep businesses going – has quickly influenced our way of life and how we view our operations. There is still a lot to figure out, but we can confidently say digital has arrived. Backing this notion is a recent poll of US HR executives: three-quarters expect work from home to be part of the new normal.

Yet, digital has arrived out of necessity and therefore not conveniently at all. Different companies are at very different stages of digital maturity. The combined urgency of the pandemic and a building global economic storm has shortened the timelines for organisations to establish even the fundamentals of digital environments and cultures. Their destination is quite clear: the cloud in its various shapes.

The cloud is fraught with hidden pitfalls. It’s a place where rushed decisions and poorly conceived strategies are punished through higher costs and more friction in the business. But if you pick your strategy well in terms of how to migrate what and when, then the advantage of cloud comes full circle.

A cloud strategy has to consider several factors, but we find the big mistakes are often made around hybrid strategies. Companies don’t study the nuances between a private and public cloud. For example, many disaster recovery systems would have assets sitting in public cloud systems, but then use a private cloud destination, which ultimately raises costs.

A contrasting example is if you decide to consume a hyperscale service 24/7 – after around three years, your costs can start eclipsing what a private cloud investment would have required. However, another example: not doing enough diligence on how and why an application is migrated into a cloud environment. Not every application delivers optimum performance and costs in the cloud. Yet, an overemphasis on workload migration strategies often sees applications uncomfortably shoehorned into place.

There are other factors, such as maintenance, upgrade and skills availability. But moving to the cloud is not a straightforward transaction. Still, leveraging hybrid cloud for a more digital organisation has become a pressing priority. How can you complete that journey?

Three steps are therefore recommended. First, you need to assess your IT environment and design a phased approach to prioritise different migration projects. This assessment should also consider the various returns on investment of your strategy and, critically, building confidence among end-users and management about the outcomes. Step one should also deliver a scorecard you can use to migrate in a stepwise manner to the cloud.

In step two, you consider your cloud partner options. A cloud partner can be a hyperscale provider such as Microsoft Azure or AWS, but it can also be a more service-based choice such as Salesforce. You aren’t looking to exclusively migrate your systems – there may be better ways to achieve the same result as that system. Why port a CRM when you can find a superior SaaS choice? These are all cloud options. By assessing your estate and needs in step one, you can pick the right cloud partners during step two.

And lastly, is the actual migration as a phased approach into the cloud. Here you find the easy ways where you translate ROI, give confidence to your end-users, and showcase milestones to management. Each phase will help promote and aid the next phase of the migration.

Whether you are looking at storage, application migration, adopting new services, or any of the other choices in the hybrid cloud world, these steps can accelerate digital maturity. There is no better time to do so. The world is digitising out of necessity, and your business  still has the time to catch up or even get ahead of the pack.

By Vishal Barapatre, Group Chief Technology Officer at In2IT Technologies. The views expressed in this article are his own.

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