As South African businesses digitally transform, the cloud has become a pivotal part of this evolution.

By Nick Wonfor, enterprise account manager at Commvault for South Africa

The deluge of data and the value that insight into this data creates has spurred on the swift migration to dynamic cloud environments. Companies are fast realising that the cloud can help them to achieve their business goals quickly, agilely and cost effectively.

However, many organisations are migrating to the cloud without having a proper strategy in place, resulting in myriad data management and legislative complexities. Without addressing these complexities and meeting challenges head on before moving to the cloud, businesses may not achieve the full impact of cloud’s many benefits and they may fall short of their objectives.


What’s the deal with data and the cloud?

A recent survey, conducted by Commvault and CITO Research, highlights data management challenges as the biggest barrier to cloud migration, with data volumes and data policy management across multiple environments making up a large chunk of this. Data management – comprising the use, backup, recovery and protection of data – is a crucial element of successful cloud migration, and therefore, needs to be carefully considered in a business’s cloud strategy to avoid the pitfalls.

The increase of the value of data, coupled with the rise of cybercrime, has led to the introduction of many new regulations imposed by various governing bodies. From South Africa’s own Protection of Personal Information Act (PoPI), to Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and various other data standards imposed across different industries and sectors, businesses are faced with a large number of compliancy requirements. The exigencies of these regulations have demanded that businesses shape up their data management, particularly in advance of cloud migration.


Legislation impact

From a South African point of view, data sovereignty has played a large role in impeding the move to cloud. Prior to the imminent arrival of a local presence for big cloud players, businesses have had to invest in cloud offerings housed internationally. As a result of this legislation, businesses have had to be careful about what data they were permitted to store in the cloud, often leading to a need for hybrid environments. It also means that moving data to, from and between data environments has been subject to costly and often unreliable connectivity.

The advent of localised data centres for big cloud players, however, indicates that businesses can begin to look at adopting complete cloud environments. It also spells the need to ensure that the business’s data management and strategy is well in hand before doing so, particularly when a business looks to move, redesign or replace legacy applications with cloud-ready applications.


Know your data before moving to cloud

A common lapse made by organisations is the inability to accurately account for their data. Not all businesses know precisely what data they have, where it resides or what it is being used for. As all of these are typically prerequisites in some way for regulatory compliance, its critical that businesses can attain clear, concrete insight into their data. This goes over and above the business benefits that truly understanding one’s data can deliver.

The ability to understand and properly manage an organisation’s data stems from a central data view and a clear understanding of the data rules. Essentially, a business needs to have a formal and enforced data management policy in place that works together with a centralised data management platform. This policy needs to be able to classify data, and define data purposes, access permissions, security controls, and backup and storage parameters.

Once a business properly understands its data, it becomes easier to manage the volume of data it has as well as what data warrants being shifted into a cloud environment. It also helps the business to identify one or more cloud platforms that suit their unique data security, portability and use requirements. They will also be better able to identify a level of service and data availability that matches their requirements.


Partner up for cloud success

The right cloud and data management partner will ensure that an organisation benefits from a tool that allows it to effectively centralise, manage and access all data across the entire business. Multiple data management, storage and recovery tools that are unable to interoperate restricts the ability to achieve a holistic view of the business’s data.

Conversely, a technology agnostic tool that carries the ability to touch all data within a business environment while catering for multi-vendor applications, hardware and operating systems will provide businesses with the ability to easily see and access their data at any time. A reputable partner will also be able to assist the business to define a data management policy that aligns with the organisation’s operational structure, business objectives and desired outcomes.

Once the business understands its data and has the right controls and policies in place to not only manage their data but also comply with regulations, then the move to cloud becomes that much simpler.

With data sovereignty, high data retrieval costs and poor reliability removed as barriers, what’s standing in the way of your business’s successful move to the cloud?


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