By Ralph Berndt, Director of Sales at Syrex

With the cloud services market expected to grow at a rate of 28% over the next five years to top R23 billion by 2023, South African companies have finally woken up to its potential. Providing some of the impetus behind this is the local availability of Microsoft Azure data centres.

Research shows that cloud services have steadily been gaining momentum in 2018 (31% growth) and 2019 (projected at 35%). And with the likes of Amazon and Google waiting in the wings, the environment for hyperscale computing is such that organisations can finally start realising the business benefits that come from having access to more innovative technology.

Through Azure, solutions like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, edge computing, automation, the Internet of Things (IoT), and others, are finally democratised making it accessible for anyone from a start-up all the way up to an enterprise looking to expand into the rest of Africa. The only limitation now is budget which can be scaled up or down according to requirements.

Locally, companies have signified their intent to migrate their primary loads into the cloud. This can encompass everything from enterprise resource planning (ERP) to customer relationship management (CRM). It is about moving as much of the workload as possible to an off-premise environment.

Securing it all

But irrespective the platform or technology used, or even the processes involved, an integral element behind the shift towards the cloud is in the cyber security aspect. Yes, the cloud does provide a significantly more secure environment to store data. But what we have seen happen this year is that companies do not understand what is necessary when it comes to their defences.

The amount of security options available to companies make choosing what is required (and ultimately beneficial) a difficult task. This is where a relationship with an experienced partner is vital. Ideally, such a company must be vendor-agnostic to ensure the business can build the right security solution that fits its unique requirements.

Questions should therefore revolve around not only what the [cyber security] deliverables are, but also how it can augment compliance to run the business effectively within the corporate governance framework. It is as much about ensuring all the pieces between the cloud, company data and processes, and security fit together to form a cohesive whole.

It is understandable that the costs of doing so effectively can quickly spiral out of control. However, this should only happen if the advice the partner provides is not right. Even more reason to rely on someone who is experienced, understands the local market, and can translate that to components that form part of the business strategy.

To this end, a service provider who is vendor-agnostic and able to leverage solutions from a large pool of resources become a critical business-enabler. It becomes less about product and more about a solutions-driven approach. And if the cloud is to continue to grow in momentum in 2020, this will become an essential steppingstone for such enablement.