South African enterprises have lagged their international counterparts in migrating data centre infrastructure to the public cloud – often because of concerns about latency, bandwidth and data sovereignty. But that picture is changing rapidly following Microsoft launching its enterprise-class South African Azure data centres this year, with Amazon expected to follow with a local AWS data centre in 2020.
For many organisations, moving some near-real-time storage and archiving requirements to the cloud is an attractive place to start the journey. It’s simpler than migrating computing to the cloud and the payback time can be relatively fast.
Here are a few signs that your company could benefit from moving some or all of its storage requirements to a cloud model.
1. The internal IT team is struggling to meet cost and availability goals.
Many internal IT departments have become engulfed in fighting operational fires, with the result that their performance might be inconsistent across different applications or business units. Under pressure and under resourced, some of them are finding it difficult to meet total-cost-of-ownership goals and targeted availability service levels with the mix of new and legacy infrastructure under their management.
Moving some storage workloads to the cloud can help to restore predictability to costs and performance in the storage environment and improve service to the business. It can also enable the IT department to refocus its energies on innovation and adding value to the business, rather than on day to day storage administration.
2. You are struggling to keep pace with information security and compliance demands
Companies once worried about the regulatory implications of storing their data in the cloud. That concern has given way to the understanding that cloud providers can offer a level of information security few enterprises can match on their own. If your company is struggling to keep up with the speed of change in cyber-security and data privacy regulations, shifting storage to the cloud can relieve some of the pressure.
Public cloud providers have made substantial investments in protecting against cyber-threats and other risks to business continuity. Plus, they offer cloud-based tools and services that are already compliant with regulatory needs. They also have highly resilient data centre infrastructure and can offer you a range of services for data backup and replication, so that you can be certain your data is well protected.
3. Your hardware is about to reach end of life.
We’re seeing a lot of South African companies sweat their data centre assets because they are reluctant to embark on large capex projects in a difficult economic climate. The result is that many companies have ageing storage arrays that are out of warranty, some of which could fail at any moment.
If this describes your business, it might be attractive to start moving some storage workloads to the cloud. An orderly migration to the cloud can help you to minimise the business interruptions that are commonplace in data centre upgrades and take advantage of pay-as-you-go pricing. It also enables you to redeploy capital towards other strategic priorities.
Best of all, the need to refresh hardware every four to five years will disappear. The service provider will take responsibility for ensuring that the infrastructure supporting your storage is continually upgraded when required so that it meets your evolving needs.
4. You are facing exponential, unpredictable growth in data volumes.
Most organisations are facing an explosion in structured and unstructured data, which creates demand for more storage. But predicting exactly how much storage capacity you will need in six months or 12 months’ time can be complex. Getting it wrong could mean over-spec’ing and overspending on hardware, or needing to rapidly add more capacity at short notice.
With cloud storage, a company pays only for the amount of storage it requires. If the amount of data you manage increases faster than expected, the cloud provider can accommodate your needs as they change and grow. If your storage needs shrink, you can also downsize your spending. This flexibility is a key benefit of the cloud.
5. You are looking for low-hanging fruit in operational cost savings
Most organisations today are looking for ways to drive down operating costs, and storage can often offer some quick wins. Because they run such massive data centres, cloud providers achieve significant economies of scale in their environments and can procure hardware at a lower cost than most enterprises.
They also share labour, utility and infrastructure costs across multiple clients, translating into a low cost per gigabyte of storage. Because it’s their core business, they will have bought and developed the best software tools to optimise administration of their data centres. These cost efficiencies are passed on to the end-user organisation.
[Mike Rogers is the MD of Tarsus Technology Solutions]