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SA companies turning from the public cloud

Nutanix ECI survey finds that local businesses have identified a hybrid cloud infrastructure approach as the focus for their ICT strategy over the coming years.

What was once considered an integral part of any organisational strategy, the public cloud is no longer the darling of South African decision-makers. With many rushing their transition into this environment and making mistakes along the way, companies are now taking the learnings and refocusing on a hybrid approach. According to Nutanix, it is this hybrid cloud focus that will drive investments over the next five years.

The global findings of Nutanix's second global Enterprise Cloud Index (ECI) survey and research report were released in November 2019. However, local datapoints found in the survey highlight that 84% of respondents in South Africa (compared to 73% globally and 71% across EMEA) are either moving public apps back to on-premise environments or planning to do so.

"The local and global results of the report speak directly to what we are seeing amongst customers within the country," says Paul Ruinaard, Regional Sales Director at Nutanix Sub-Saharan Africa.

"While the cloud has not moved off the business agenda completely, SA customers are looking at how they can better modernise their on-premise data centres. In some instances, they are scaling back their use of public, and hybrid clouds. This is supported by a stated 9% decrease in public cloud usage by local respondents and the staggering amount who are making the move back onto their private IT infrastructure."

Many of the repatriated apps are headed for traditional data centres rather than private clouds. In a reversal of its 2018 Enterprise Cloud Index profile, the country upped its reported data centre penetration by 48% to 72% this year, catapulting it into the highest global data centre usage bracket. By contrast, only 25% of local respondents reported using private cloud, the lowest across all countries except Taiwan (21%), and Hong Kong (23%).

"The fact that local customers are eyeing the cloud with more caution is in part due to how the costs of scaling workloads to the cloud caught many of them unaware. Security is also a concern, as is performance, and lastly application delivery. The data by no means states that companies are halting their cloud journey, but instead they are approaching it more maturely and cautiously," he says.

This is indicative of how cost plays a far more important role in SA cloud decision-making than anywhere else in the world. Most local respondents (76%) said that cost advantages were the number one factor fuelling their decision-making as compared to 53% of global and EMEA countries.

"It is no wonder that cost is a major factor when considering that nearly 53% of SA companies reported being over budget with their public cloud spending in 2019, a 12 percentage point increase over the previous year. When compared to the 35% global average, managing cloud cost must therefore become an organisational priority."

Even though the move away from the public cloud is evident, there remains a significant disconnect between what local businesses deem the ideal IT infrastructure and what they are deploying today.

SA IT professionals generally agree with their worldwide peers that hybrid cloud represents the ideal and most secure IT operating model. Still, respondents here reported the third lowest penetration of hybrid clouds today (6%) after Japan (3%) and Switzerland (4%). Furthermore, SA's hybrid usage dropped by nine points in 2019.

"Perhaps because of this, stated plans by local respondents align with what is happening globally, resulting in hybrid deployments that will as much as quadruple in three to five years, while private cloud usage will decline. SA companies are going through an adjustment period as their experience with the public cloud matures. The cloud is a much more nuanced place than simply sticking with a public model. But learnings such as these could only have happened with time. Having said that, local businesses no longer have an excuse to ignore the hybrid approach. It is happening now, and they must adjust to remain relevant in a digitally-connected world market," concludes Ruinaard.

To learn more about the global report and findings, please download the full "Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Index 2019" here.

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