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Demystifying the cloud

Dandemutande, a licensed Internet Access Provider in Zimbabwe, recently held a customer seminar entitled “Demystifying the Cloud” in Harare, in recognition of its partnership with Pamoja, the wholly-owned SEACOM cloud services distributor focusing on cloud services in Eastern and Southern Africa. Pamoja has deployed two data centres directly linked to the SEACOM network (Mtuzini in South Africa and Nairobi, Kenya). Dandemutande is positioning Pamoja’s cloud services to its corporate customer base under its Utande brand alongside its existing suite of cloud services IMG_1662 (1024x768)

Michèle Scanlon, Dandemutande CEO

“In addressing common misconceptions about cloud services, we set out to recognise the realities of cloud so our customers would feel confident to take the next step to implementation,” said Michèle Scanlon, Dandemutande CEO.

Security remains among the top cloud concerns for IT managers. However recent research from RightScale published in April 2014 (“State of the Cloud Report 2014”) reveals that the longer an enterprise is exposed to cloud as measured by its Cloud Maturity Model, the less its concern on security issues with compliance, cost and performance ranking ahead of security by “Cloud Focused” enterprises.

In its annual global cloud survey, KPMG highlighted current specific security concerns was on data loss and intellectual property theft, rather than a generic concern on security in the cloud. However that does not mean that the enterprise should relax its own investments in data security; rather the onus on ensuring adequate security remains with the enterprise where security is becoming increasingly more important to the extent that some enterprises are seeing a new role of chief security officer emerging as executive custodian and visionary for an enterprise’s physical and digital assets, often reporting directly to the CEO.

Similarly a key myth to dispel with regard to cloud services is that the role of the IT manager or CIO will diminish. Conversely IT management is becoming more integral to the ongoing performance of an enterprise. Yet a disconnect continues to exist between IT and the business in terms of the role IT should play in the deployment of cloud. The RightScale survey clearly highlights this where central IT envisages a broad role in cloud decision making, whereas business units see a much narrower role. Successful cloud implementations should be based on an underlying business rationale for deploying cloud in the first place, which is not necessarily just about cutting IT budgets, but improving business efficiencies and reducing lead time for service provisioning. Overall cloud deployment is more than IT, but rather about improving all aspects of the enterprise. Thus it is essential to ensure that the focus of the IT manager and CEO are aligned.

Lessons from markets like the USA where there are high levels of cloud adoption show that despite cloud deployment, numerous enterprises have yet to define many aspects of strategy or governance. Understanding what benefit or value the enterprise wishes to derive from cloud services will help ensure a cloud implementation is not treated as an internal IT experiment, and shape the roadmap on which applications should be migrated when.

Implementation of cloud services is relatively easy from a technology perspective where installation time, new provisioning, and upgrades can be almost zero. However there is a growing realisation of the complexity of implementation within the business in terms of working practices and business processes. Once again underlying the requirement is to ensure business units engage with IT to receive full buy-in from the start.

Whilst Gartner’s Total Cost of Ownership model reveals that cloud computing can save an enterprise 50 per cent of associated IT costs of an on-premises ERP system for 100 users over four years, the reality exists that cloud computing may not always be cheaper, especially in the long term. However the shift from a capex to an opex environment with predictability of costs and scalability under the true cloud Pay As You Grow model is attractive to the financial management of an enterprise, especially in challenging economic times like those currently being experienced in Zimbabwe. IMG_1660 (1024x768)

IT remains a skills gap in Africa. An IDC survey of African IT managers citing key trends for 2014 identified the number one concern of 52 per cent of African IT managers was staffing. The increasing prominence of the IT department in a cloud environment means that more focused recruitment, training and retention is required on new and existing IT skills by the enterprise. These costs are often left out of a cloud business model.

As with any service, the enterprise should insist on a Service Level Agreement (SLA) upfront for its cloud services, especially with regard uptime. Whilst no system can ever truly say it runs at 100 per cent, the nature of cloud service providers are that their networks are designed with redundancy and high availability in mind, often at a reduced cost than if done in-house. An SLA will help the enterprise understand and quantify what their exposure is.

Access to stable and reliable connectivity is essential for successful cloud services, whilst the nature of the cloud service may determine what connectivity speed is required. With the increasing expectation of customers – retail or enterprise – to be connected anytime, anywhere, accompanied by a proliferation of connected devices and thus increasing volumes of data, speed will become more of a common base requirement.

Pamoja sees the highest demand for public cloud in Africa for storage services. Reviewing key African hubs of Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, cloud adoption ranges from a third to half of all enterprises.


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