With 77% of South African businesses currently using cloud services in their IT department, the local market is strongly positioned to usher in a new era of services to meet the demands of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), writes Wilhelm Greeff, Business Manager: Digital at Decision Inc.
This growing momentum is aided by the availability of new multinational data centres in the country with more expected to be opened in the coming months. It is particularly around the Microsoft Office 365 productivity stack where corporates have been increasingly interested in making the transition. However, other solutions such as SharePoint Online, PowerApps, and Microsoft Teams have also proven to be popular growth choices.
Many local companies are approaching cloud service providers for strategic advisory services to assist them in migrating their existing solutions to an online environment. Mostly, businesses are seeing the benefit of not having to setup and maintain infrastructure, such as servers, themselves.
It is anticipated that those organisations situated in more remote areas will also be eager to move because of the rarity of skills in those locations to perform these functions on-premise. Furthermore, the fact that all information is already backed up and available from anywhere there is internet connectivity is a massive drive for companies to transition to the cloud.
From our own experience, we have had quick wins through implementations of SharePoint Online. Many of these installations have been for companies that have had on-premise SharePoint environments but never really used them to their full potential. These businesses have now adopted Office 365 licensing and are looking to make use of the full suite of products available to them.
One of the biggest attractions is the quick turn-around time and ease in which basic implementations can be done in the cloud. This also frees up organisational resources to focus on delivering more strategic functions.
As part of this, organisations are looking at migrating everything from intranets, document management, and storage, to human resource functions such as payroll, leave management, and training, and even line of business systems to the cloud.
Even though the cloud is gaining significant momentum locally, the next evolution of it (hyperscale computing) will become even more important.
At its most basic, hyperscale refers to achieving massive scale in computing. This is typically for big data, cloud computing, and related services. Think of it as the cloud going to a more extreme level, unlocking significant additional value for organisations looking to benefit from technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, automation, and the Internet of Things to name just a few.
However, South African companies are not necessarily taking the hyperscale into account when making the move to the cloud. For them, it is very much still a case of migrating first regardless of the scaling capabilities available. Fortunately, service providers such as Decision Inc. do take this into account especially when Azure-hosted applications have such potential for scale.
Inevitably, it is about making the migration to the cloud as smooth and as beneficial as possible for companies across all industry sectors. The benefits this will unlock can significantly enable companies across the country to equip themselves for the requirements of 4IR.