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Data growth, effective connectivity and DRaaS driving cloud adoption in Africa

South Africa is ahead of the growth curve when it comes to cloud service roll out and adoption, but markets like Kenya, Mauritius, Namibia and Nigeria are also experiencing growth, says Trent Odgers, Cloud Hosting Manager at Veeam.

According to Odgers this is because of improved connectivity in South Africa and across the continent, as well as the fact that data has become a core part of many businesses.

“The loss of their data or systems is no longer tolerated and thus needs to be “insured” \ backed up and protected and rapidly recovered no matter the scenario. Offsite Backup and Disaster Recovery as a service (DRaaS) has since become a key driver of cloud-based offerings, as it is often the next step on the journey. Many partners have delivered hosting services for decades, and those offerings have evolved to add additional services like offsite backup and DRaaS to complement their hosting services,” he said.

Trent Odgers, cloud and hosting manager at Veeam Software.
Trent Odgers, cloud and hosting manager at Veeam Software.

Odgers added that in 2020 many organisations may have taken a wait-and-see approach, but the pandemic has forced everyone’s hand and sped up digital transformation in all its guises.

This has spurred the rise of cloud-first strategies.

Describing the situation in South Africa, Odgers said while many enterprises have a cloud-first strategy, the most accurate description of the local market is that it is a hybrid-cloud environment.

“At its most basic, this means that there is a strategic mix of services spread across on-premises, private cloud, managed cloud via local cloud providers and public cloud providers.”

“The cloud enables a business to pivot faster with less stress. You no longer need to be the guru, or hire the most expensive IT staff. Rather, choose a reputable partner and give them your requirements. This is particularly true for many industries from financial services, automotive, healthcare and manufacturing, to small and medium sized industries, where there is a high cost of managing their own data and security via costly data centres, so offloading this and adopting cloud services becomes more effective for their business. Without a doubt, this is one of the main reasons there is such a positive attitude in South Africa toward cloud-based services. Some of the biggest attractions (of these services) are their ease of use and consumption-based model.”

With the major hyperscalers building infrastructure locally, budgets and resources are being stretched and working from home has accelerated cloud services as a preferred methodology, said Odgers.

“Both hybrid and multi-cloud strategies are pushing many customers to demand more from their partners and ensure that they can deliver on their current and future strategies. The MSP model of reselling cloud-based services has also enabled many partners to resell offerings without having to worry about the underlying infrastructure. We are also seeing consolidation in the market with larger partners buying or partnering with smaller partners who have an offering that they required.”

Security major factor

According to Veeam, security is a major factor that needs to be considered before the first set of data is sent offsite.

“As I have always said, it is about layers of security, having a plan and regularly testing that plan. It is important to ensure that the right people have the right access to the right information at the right time. As technology has advanced, it has become easier in some regards to create a secure connection, but with ransomware and other risks have been introduced, more needs to be taken into consideration,” said Odgers.

“Before, one of the only methods was to use VPNs to ensure that the connection and application was secure. As much as that secured the connection from A to B, it also created a connection into the business that needed additional layers to be secured. Now many products have cloud connect capabilities and APIs built directly into their products, which enables more secure methods of connecting, while ensuring that security is top of mind.”

According to Odgers, when it comes to the protection of those workloads and data, very strict methodologies need to be put in place.

“Data encryption is a good start, in order to ensure that no matter who gets access to the data and that data is kept secure. To send the data offsite, ideally a single port, that is secured with the right rules and that only the backup server can see and connect, will mitigate risk and has been proven to help many customers locally who have had their network compromised, as only the backup server can see the offsite target,” he continued.

Veeam said the adoption of cloud-based services continues to grow across a range of industries, including automotive, manufacturing, hospitality, government, healthcare, media, entertainment and legal.

“This is because data and its availability is important, no matter the size or type of the business,” said Odgers.

According to the Veeam executive, compliance is also a key driver to enforce certain standards and practices that ensure the protection of the data. From a one-person business to a multi-national organisation, data and data compliance is critical, especially as businesses have until 1 July 2021 to comply with the Protection of Personal Information Act (PoPIA).

Odgers added: “The financial services sector has had to ensure that their business remains online 24x7 for many years and has had their own Production and Disaster Recovery sites. These same institutions are now using local service providers to manage and deliver data protection services on behalf of their business to enable them to focus on their core business. This is often complemented with an offsite copy in a secure hosting facility that meets all the correct standards. At the same time, many of these organisations have adopted a cloud first strategy, which is driving the adoption of cloud-based services, when the use case makes sense. That will also be accelerated with many hyperscalers adding outposts or local deployments for customers and partners to use and consume hyperscaler-based services that are locally hosted."

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