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Safer In The Cloud?

Is business continuity the killer app for cloud? Asks Masibulele Lunika.

Hamilton Ratshefola, country general manager at IBM Southern Africa, says that cloud adoption rates are rising in South Africa. Cloud delivers a lot of benefits for companies, but one stands out as driving companies to invest.

“I think we see more and more companies doing backup and recovery as a service, we actually have a fast adoption,” Ratshefola said at the firm’s recent Think conference in Johannesburg, “Last year, we saw over 40 deals select backup as a service, we’ve never seen such a quantum leap. It used to be a slow business, but with cloud it has become a fast business because customers are realising the cost benefits, return on investment and relief of not carrying all of that infrastructure cost on their balance sheets.”

Offering resilience 

“When we start to talk about the enterprise looking at multicloud or hybrid cloud, then you introduce the many facets of the entire cloud journey, so how do you manage it?” asks Ratshefola’s colleague, Dhiren Vasram, business unit leader, IBM Cloud. “You have to be able to provide a customer with the ability to be resilient in their market and to be able to continue to operate, therefore, it’s become a fundamental in this entire journey to cloud.”

Vasram says this is particularly important in e-commerce where customers want services 24/7. “To do so, we’ve got to be able to manage the impact of and failures of that.” He added that businesses are becoming more demanding, more agile, and they are growing faster now than ever before.

Renier du Plessis, manager of Cloud Services at ContinuitySA, says with cloud, businesses can now move from having policies that enable them to recover data or their environment to focusing on how quickly the essentials can be kept up and running in the event of a disaster. This could range from days to minutes with a traditional backup and recovery plan, but cloud is making it affordable for even smaller businesses to keep an entire redundant infrastructure ticking over on virtual machines in the background, ready to take over in a split second when a problem is detected.

In a recent IDG survey, business continuity was cited as a main reason for cloud investment by 58 per cent of companies. The organisation size, however, played a big role in how important the issue was viewed. For large enterprises, only 50 per cent said it was a main driver, compared to 65 per cent for SMEs — making it the second most important factor for smaller businesses.

“It is imperative for service providers to adapt the offerings they are providing to the end clients and ensure they stay relevant in a very volatile landscape,” Du Plessis says. “With cloud services particularly in mind the trend is quite positive, if you look at the cost of sharing platforms, flexibility and scalability on the menu.”

There’s a lot of work still to be done, however, when it comes to industry education. “Gearing up to face the technology revolution with trusted ‘big brothers’ and to carry and support them is at hand,” says Du Plessis. “Cloud market leaders should realise this and provide the necessary thought leadership and business continuity management and resilience.

“Have the conversation with your clients and don’t be afraid to ask, ‘Is your business recoverable?’”

Du Plessis says affordability is also a major concern for most, if not all, companies. “Not only are your credentials important when it comes to convincing prospective clients that their data is safer with you, but you must also provide a service that goes that extra mile.”

Image: ©iStock - 1156386725

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