Successful cloud integration begins with infrastructure
By Phillip de Waal, Systems Engineering Manager at Nutanix Sub-Saharan Africa.
A recent survey has found that almost 70% of businesses across Africa are planning to increase their spending on the cloud this year. But this requires an approach that connects, integrates, and links data services and their core functions alongside all ancillary dependencies.
Of course, the technical aspects are just one piece of the puzzle. When it comes to maintaining business operations on the continent, business and technology leaders must also account for the various compliance and governance requirements of each country they have locations. Not only is the protection of data important in this regard, but also the company’s ability to maintain security while delivering user functionality. The golden thread tying these pieces together is the ability to connect to a SaaS service ‘motherload’ as well as any other external services vital for business operations.
Companies must therefore be able to access a cloud platform that builds on precision-engineered cloud infrastructure capable of factoring in all the complexities of doing business in Africa.
Building blocks for success
By adopting an infrastructure-first approach, organisations can develop SaaS connectivity and integration services based upon a foundation that unifies a hybrid cloud infrastructure. This infrastructure, whether you are based in Kinshasha or Johannesburg, Nairobi or Maputo, consists of compute, storage, networking, hypervisors, and containers.
Self-healing autonomous controls for disaster recovery, resilience provisioning, and security should never be thought of or considered as something that can be bolted on after the fact. Instead, these components should be seen as the DNA of what it means to be a cloud-driven business. Any organisation who is looking to leverage the cloud will rely on being able to access these ‘building blocks’ as built-in functions.
Adding the cloud layers
This does not mean a business should attempt to transition to the cloud in one fell swoop. Decision-makers should view the transition to cloud infrastructure as something that begins with a core set of software functionality services. These will be the ones essential for injecting system resilience and management into the environment.
Even though this does provide a strong foundation, companies also need to consider the kinds of functions they need to draw on for SaaS integration to be made as seamless as possible especially within the infrastructure services that it relies on.
For example, the core functions that need to run on a cloud infrastructure capable of scaling according to business needs must give the company the ability to react to any potential complexities while still running on heterogeneous cloud clusters.
If anything, integrating across heterogeneous instances is vital if companies are to work with complex supply chains that may switch focus not only in weeks or days, but within hours. The infrastructure must also be able to access data tiering, tuneable redundancy functionality, and core services such as data deduplication.
Solutions like Nutanix Cloud Manager (NCM) reflects the types of functionalities needed in a cloud-rich environment. Having access to an intuitive platform that can quickly build and grow a cloud deployment while leveraging the likes of self-service and orchestration, visibility and governance of spend, and security will be the key to a unified multi-cloud management environment.
Servers still matter
And yet, the inevitable march towards cloud integration will start with infrastructure. Think of how infrastructure-as-code (IaC) can help companies leapfrog the misconfiguration challenges that were often associated with cloud deployments in the past.
There is also the rise of serverless technology and the software-defined world of networking interconnectivity that can empower companies in Africa to deploy modern applications and data services more effectively over cloud-native frameworks.
We must also consider choosing from a variety of multi-cloud platforms across cloud services provider (CSP) hyperscalers. This customisation extends beyond a company’s choice of hypervisor to include container platform and any other cloud services whether those relate to data, storage, or analytics.
Remember to manage
Given the potential complexity of all this, it is imperative for companies to embrace cloud management technology. With the reality of multi-cloud across hybrid estates and IT stacks, teams now need to orchestrate intelligent operations and take advantage of self-service technologies with a view to gaining visibility, observability and enabling governance in unified environments.
Fortunately, by adopting an infrastructure-first approach to cloud computing, following by SaaS connectivity and SaaS integration, any deployments can be engineered to cater for an always-on, continuously evolving environment.
The alternative, starting with the front end and thinking about infrastructure considerations after that, can be compared to a business building a shop window but failing to stock its shelves with any products. And let us not even mention how such a business will deal with its supply chain and wider network of customers and third-party partners.
SaaS integration starts with infrastructure and ends with it as well. To put it simply, build your base and then build your business.