The practical use of the cloud in South Africa is burgeoning, as more and more cloud heavyweights put physical cloud capabilities in country. The more pervasive use of cloud as the new “infrastructure” is set to explode. This is the view of Emile Pepermans, executive director at Ovations.
Following its involvement in the recent local AWS conference, the Ovations team, which has visited the conference year-on-year, notes that not only has attendance at this event doubled, it is now also becoming a yardstick for the “new era” of IT.
“Gone are the days that the cloud is just an idea that some people are toying with. The cloud is a tangible and financially justifiable alternative to tin, and it’s only going to grow as more and more people take it seriously,” states Pepermans. “In fact, the cloud has had such a massive impact on our business, it has even changed the way we engage with customers, how we define a risk profile of a client, as well as how we embark on a project.
“Critically, the cloud alters the entire concept of ‘time to market’, and as a result, it changes the way your support teams need to approach a project, as well as how you structure your business and teams. As a result, we follow a far more agile approach to all our projects, which itself has yielded fantastic results for our business, and ultimately success in projects for our customers,” adds Pepermans.
The growth the cloud is evidencing can in part be attributed to sheer functionality and agility it offers a customer, and in part to the fact that the big cloud players are starting to place actual physical infrastructure within the South African borders.
Pepermans says this investment opens huge capabilities for companies looking at adding big data and AI competencies to their business.
Strategic aspects of business that can be moved to the cloud include completely redesigned apps that are more flexible, easier to engage with and are developed with the modern, more digitally aware user in mind. Cloud migration strategies present a huge opportunity for IT solutions providers, as end-user clients still grapple with how to get their legacy business to the cloud. The establishment of a digital transformation office within businesses is also soon to be a reality.
But, what will be the big tipping points for the cloud? Pepermans says while many customers are using the cloud, mass usage is yet to explode from beyond an R&D environment. Key areas that will enable this shift includes the development of fraud detection and prevention mechanisms, apps to assist with anti-money laundering and the use of “machines” to intelligently track, pick up and act on anomalies in online behaviour.
Other big use cases include cross-selling and upselling, relying on big data to identify customer behaviour, and linking this to products, and finally, sales.
“Life before the cloud required large pots of money and overhead to spin up simple projects. Now this can be done in minutes. Factors such as the actual physical security to secure data centres is also a thing of the past, and you have freedom of choice with the hybridity the cloud offers. It is a far cry from being locked into the proprietary architectures of the past, where trying to add or integrate to/with third party technologies would cause large IT headaches,” says Pepermans.
“The cloud really is hitting a maturity never seen before and it is exciting for people in IT. Our own consulting model at Ovations has, over the last five years, done a complete 180- degree turnabout and the path we are on is unlocking a huge amount of potential for us and our clients. In fact, the evolution of the cloud was a bigger leap than even the Internet was to business, and we haven’t even scratched the surface yet.”