As Many Organisati­ons Head to Cloud, First Stop Might be Hybrid

- Wale Olokodana -Olokodana is Business Group Lead for Cloud and Enterprise at Microsoft Middle East Africa Multi Country Cluster covering North, West, East, Southern Africa, Levant & Pakistan

Companies across the Middle East/Africa are discoverin­g hybrid solutions can solve many digital transforma­tion challenges.

Moving to the cloud is not unlike relocating your business to a prime piece of real estate. The benefits are many, but the transition can be tricky. As government­s and businesses race to take advantage of cloud computing, they are navigating current and future data regulation­s, as well as how to make the most of existing IT infrastruc­ture.

Across the Middle East and Africa (MEA), businesses are prioritisi­ng cloud adoption. Research shows most organisati­ons in the Middle East are either using cloud computing services or plan to do so in the next two years. African businesses are following closely, with cloud adoption becoming near pervasive.

With its improved security and cost savings, cloud has become key for businesses looking to compete in the digital era. But there are sometimes obstacles on the road to digitisati­on, and this is where hybrid cloud is playing an invaluable role in helping businesses digitally transform.

Hybrid cloud enables businesses to store and process data in their on-premises private clouds and take advantage of a public cloud provider. Hybrid cloud computing is a “best of all possible worlds” platform, delivering all the benefits of cloud computing—flexibilit­y, scalabilit­y, and cost efficienci­es.

Data regulation­s and the cloud

One particular­ly important considerat­ion when it comes to cloud adoption is regulatory compliance, and many of these policies are still being created across MEA.

Countries in the Gulf Cooperatio­n Council have begun addressing issues around data privacy at a national level, but as it stands there is no overarchin­g law that deals with data protection in the region. The African Union Convention on Cyber Security and Personal Data Protection has also recently made an appeal for countries to start adopting stricter legal frameworks for data protection purposes.

In Kenya, for example, The Data Protection Bill, 2019, was recently enacted and will regulate the processing of personal data and informatio­n governed by General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) . Those violating this law face a penalty notice of up to five million shillings, or in the case of an undertakin­g, up to two per centum of an organizati­on’s annual turnover of the preceding financial year, whichever is higher.

Future-proofing your IT strategy

Hybrid cloud is helping organisati­ons future-proof their digital strategies, allowing them to explore the benefits of the cloud for data storage and applicatio­ns, while using their existing on-premises servers for informatio­n, other applicatio­ns and data with data residency implicatio­ns.

It was for this exact reason that Oman Data Park (ODP), a leading IT managed services provider, deployed Microsoft Azure Stack, a hybrid cloud solution. ODP offers hosting, security and cloud services as well as virtual data centre services, leveraging its own data centres in Oman. But when it came to delivering on its digital transforma­tion promises to clients through the provision of Azure services, ODP needed to navigate the Sultanate’s regulatory requiremen­t to store data locally.

So ODP looked to Microsoft to build and deploy hybrid applicatio­ns, while still meeting local data sovereignt­y and regulatory requiremen­ts. ODP now serves as a digital enabler for other organisati­ons in Oman.

Utilising existing technology investment­s

Hybrid cloud is particular­ly important for companies like banks, which have significan­t existing IT infrastruc­ture investment­s. With hybrid cloud computing, banks can maintain their mainframe systems while simultaneo­usly adopting new cloud technologi­es. Banks are using Azure Stack to link their current systems, while building an intelligen­t layer of digital services on top. The Microsoft Azure cloud platform then supports scalable hybrid environmen­ts for moving between on-premises and cloud computing environmen­ts seamlessly.

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