By Roelof Louw, Cloud expert at T-Systems in South Africa
The ICT industry's very nature is dynamic and evolutionary. It is also these characteristics that make each year exciting, particularly when it comes to the implementation and use of technologies in the enablement of a successful business environment. One such as technology development is Cloud Computing which in 2011 went through an explosion of sorts with many manufacturers and service providers confirming their entry into the marketplace. A competitive and diverse marketplace started forming and South Africa was no different.
2012, exciting but challenging
Therefore, in 2012 Cloud Computing customers have a variety of solutions to choose from that truly optimise the benefits of the cloud, particularly in a hosted private cloud environment. Similarly, service providers have a myriad of technologies and resultant services to offer that enhance their value offering in a competitive marketplace. However, the above and the increasing maturity of the Cloud Computing marketplace also bring its own set of challenges. How does a Cloud Computing service provider successfully apply these technologies while continuing to diversify and differentiate its service delivery to customers? A firm roadmap that addresses the IT stack, from infrastructure to applications is critical to ensure a provider remains a bona fide player and importantly stands out when IT decision-makers move over to Cloud Computing.
Sound, flexible framework
As mentioned the industry is becoming increasingly mature which means an increased focused on Research and Development (R&D) is a must for any Cloud Computing provider that would like to stay one step ahead of the its competitors. At T-Systems, for example, we partner with our various technology providers to optimise our Cloud Computing offering, constantly researching means of providing the best possible solutions to companies and their individual needs. This is crucial if one considers how many technologies are entering the market almost at a monthly rate. However, the R&D not only comprises technology but how services are delivered to customers. A keen sense of how Cloud Computing will impact the business of your client is therefore crucial, and the delivery model must evolve to adapt to changing market (and business) requirements. In light of this, do your research and ensure that you have a sound and modular technology framework in place that allows you to readily add new additions to your existing offering. The same goes for standardisation which should be applied throughout the organisation. The solution you implement in Johannesburg should be the same as the one you implement at all your client's branch offices, locally or abroad.
With Cloud Computing, the well-known adage of 'it's about the journey' applies. You should not be in the business of selling technology but a product that offers an entire cloud solution that meets the needs companies security, compliance, network and commercial needs - offered at a high level with no disruption. Ultimately, it is about providing a commercial solution that works for your respective clients and the ability to add and remove technologies, evolve your offering and provide a strong overall product is an important competitive advantage. As an existing Cloud Computing player which already features a strong customer base, the key is to mature with it. However, it is also important to enable new clients to readily enter the cloud. This is where market education plays an important role, not all companies – particularly those operating in highly regulated industries - can use Cloud Computing. Dispel the myths and ensure that potential clients know exactly what lies ahead with regards to infrastructure migration and overall operational changes. Ultimately, it will be those players that offer strong industry know-how coupled with a diverse, standardised and flexible offering that will go from strength-to-strength in a market that will continue to undergo exciting changes.