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