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Bursting through the Cloud barriers Featured

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Bursting through the Cloud barriers

Four of the biggest concerns hindering the adoption of Cloud Computing in SA can be easily dispelled, says Vodacom Business


Cloud Computing offers a wide array of benefits – including cost efficiency, faster time-to-market, greater innovation and more agile technology deployment. It also helps improve alignment between customers, employees and partners. Essentially, through the effective use of Cloud computing, Chief Information Officers can focus more on strategic goals, and less on the day-to-day operations. But for Cloud to become a concrete reality for corporate South Africa, a number of perceived drawbacks need to be understood and debunked. This is according to Vodacom Business’ Executive Head of Cloud and Hosted Services, Nkosi Kumalo.

The four biggest concerns holding back the adoption of cloud are security, the pain of integration and migration, the confusion of the Cloud and “I’m too small”.

  1. Security


“Probably the number one concern is around the security of data that’s no longer sitting within the customer’s own physical environment,” Kumalo says.


He believes adopting a hybrid approach is one way of allaying any security fears. This approach involves hosting some applications in a public Cloud environment and others in a private Cloud environment. This is easily achievable when the customer has defined their security requirements around the different types of data generated in the IT environment.


“For the Cloud service provider, the key to this journey then becomes solving the challenge of extending the private Cloud into the public Cloud, while preserving consistency of the experience.”


Kumalo explains that Vodacom Business approaches Cloud security from a number of angles. The core components of this are firewall security, intrusion prevention, server and application management which monitors unauthorised access to user applications; and remote access security which uses two-factor authentication. The one is to verify the device and second is access to the network – ensuring employees can work securely using any laptop, tablet or smartphone.


“The fact that people are bringing their own devices into the professional realm is driving the adoption of Cloud, but also raising security fears that hamper the growth of Cloud. So it is essential to have this armoury of technologies in place to address those concerns.”


  1. The pain of integration and migration

As with any disruptive technology, migrating some or all of one’s applications to the Cloud can come with some degree of anxiety, explains Kumalo.


“There are a number of concerns around the technical requirements associated with shutting down an environment and moving to the Cloud. Will we suffer downtime? Do we go in a phased approach? How do we ensure the availability of all the services?”


His answer is for a company to partner with a Cloud provider that is able to offer very high levels of uptime and honour tight service level agreements.


“The provider has to put their money where their mouth is,” he notes, “at Vodacom the commitment is to provide users with 99.95% uptime – nothing less is acceptable.”


  1. The confusion of the Cloud

There is great confusion over what constitutes Cloud services. Definitions range from the very lightest (basically any web-based business service), to some far more elaborate definitions.


“In short, true Cloud services achieve an increase in computing efficiency, easy scalability, and fast delivery of enterprise-grade IT services, to customers of any size,” Kumalo notes.


Aside from grasping the principles and demystifying any confusion, he believes customers need to understand how Cloud architecture can optimise their particular business.


He says the only way to overcome conceptual hurdles relating to Cloud migration is to get informed, get hands-on experience and experiment – and from there develop confidence in Cloud Computing. Companies can start by migration non-mission critical services to the cloud like email, websites etc. The real advantage here is that you pay as you use, and if there is a need to need to shut down the services; the exposure in terms of infrastructure investment is minimal or not there at all.


  1. “I’m too small”

There is a perception that Cloud Computing is only for the larger companies; but Kumalo believes that it’s often within the SOHO and SME segments that the clearest and most immediate benefits can be found.


“We’ve invested a lot of energy in positioning Cloud services for the smaller companies – from our Virtual Hosting platform, to our Microsoft Office 365 syndication agreement. We also have a massive footprint of service outlets across the country that fulfils the device requirements needed to access cloud and hosted solutions.”


The Microsoft, Vodafone Office 365 Syndication Agreement means Vodacom assumes the billing and service responsibilities for all customers signed up with Vodacom for Office 365. In addition customers benefit from bundled propositions designed specifically to meet the needs to the small and medium business such as connectivity, devices, services and access to a host of other Cloud products  – such as Microsoft Office, Exchange, Lync, Sharepoint,  HR, payroll and accounting services. This capability is unique to Vodacom Business since we are the only Microsoft Syndication partner in South Africa for Office 365.


Another major concern in the SME segment, notes Kumalo, is small firms’ sensitivity to the bandwidth costs of accessing the Cloud. He adds that Vodacom Business and its peers are going some way to breaking down this barrier by laying fibre to business parks and homes in some of the more popular business and domestic districts to enable ease of access to connectivity at a reasonable cost.


Cloud Computing has massive benefits to businesses of any size – from better agility and scalability, to enhanced employee collaboration, lower costs, to clearer regulatory compliance and corporate governance. These myriad benefits outweigh any perceived pain points associated with migrating to a Cloud-based architecture across the organisation. In fact, with the right partner – a high-calibre Cloud services provider – these ‘barriers’ can easily be overcome and all the Cloud benefits quickly realised. 

Last modified on Tuesday, 26 November 2013 11:21
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