[Column] Andrew Cruise: Moving to the cloud – is it right for your business?
If the pandemic taught us one thing, it’s that remote work is a viable alternative to large, expensive offices and IT infrastructure and hardware.
“Many South African businesses have slashed their office space after realising that they could save money while still being fully operational remotely,” says Andrew Cruise, Managing Director of vendor-neutral cloud infrastructure provider, Routed.
And though only around 5% of the South African enterprise market is fully on the cloud, according to Cruise, many more are now considering this option. "Work from home mandated as a result of the pandemic proved to many organisations that the need for physical hardware and infrastructure is fading as fast as the idea that everyone has to work from an office,” says Cruise.
Here’s what you need to know to make the right decision for your business.
Globally there has been a return to office environments whether full time or in a hybrid-approach, but for most in South Africa many employees remain working from home at least for the foreseeable future, says Cruise. “Companies are realising that there’s no need to have on-premises hardware anymore, because cloud provides a much more flexible solution. Even companies that have successfully moved back to the office are seeing a need for cloud services in order to have remote access when needed.”
Furthermore, the cloud is more cost-effective in the long run – with less risk.
“Moving to the cloud means you’re effectively renting hardware, which removes the hidden costs of mitigating against failures, disaster recovery and maintenance when you run your own hardware. Though it may seem expensive to move initially, it can save companies a bundle in on-premise hardware as well as remove the risk of broken or stolen hardware – which could, of course, result in considerable operational losses on top of the physical loss. The good cloud providers are constantly refreshing their equipment, meaning you benefit from constantly improving performance, and won’t have hardware upgrade costs every five years.”
That being said, it doesn’t necessarily make sense to move everything to the cloud. “There’s still some reasons to keep certain things on-premises, including for compliance purposes. But ultimately, the cloud offers a lower total cost of ownership,” says Cruise.
Secondly, good internet is an essential when it comes to cloud. “Fast, reliable, affordable internet is a necessity for enterprise cloud to prosper.”
Timing is also important, he adds. “We’re expecting a significant shift to cloud over the next five years as companies reach the end of their hardware cycles. It doesn’t make sense to move to cloud if you’ve just upgraded all your hardware and have everything under warranty. But, when the next replacement cycle rolls around, that’s the perfect time to make a move.”
Choosing the right provider
There are several new entrants joining the colocation stalwarts like Teraco in the local market, including Vantage’s new data centre; as well as Oracle building a cloud presence in SA, IBM’s SAP-based cloud offering, and Huawei recruiting new resellers, which is all good news for the growing cloud market, says Cruise.
But moving to cloud should not be done on a whim, he warns. “Do proper analysis of the contract and of the provider, and, critically, whether they’re right for your business needs. Be careful of services at heavily discounted rates – could they be based on ageing out-of-warranty hardware? Many organisations have been lured into discounted contracts, only to find out two years later that they’re locked in and suddenly having to pay large fees and remain contractually bound for a few more years.”
Routed has recently taken a vendor-like approach to its own business, enabling it to provide partners with the best cloud solutions for their customers. Cruise explains: “We are engaged with distributors here in SA that are already distributing Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure to reseller partners, who are selling that on to the end-users, and we’ve led the market by recently launching the VMware Cloud equivalent here. We use ISP, MSP, IT support companies and developers as our partners because they’re experts in the provision of specialist services and managing their client relationships, while we focus on presenting our VMware Cloud service interface and make sure that it’s available. And that’s really what people want from the cloud.”
Whether its working from home, the office or anywhere in-between, organisations and their staff are demanding solutions that are flexible and scalable as the world adapts. “Cloud is that solution, but it will come down to the partner that supports the transition that will make or break the decision forever, so organisations need to take care, and choose wisely,” concludes Cruise.