The public cloud uptake in South Africa has accelerated over the last number of years.

A study by data analytics firm IDC found that spending on public cloud services will nearly triple over the next five years, from R4,29-billion in 2017 to R 11,53-billion in 2022.

We are seeing a phenomenal uptake of public cloud across a spectrum of businesses; from micro organisations that want to back up their data to the cloud in a cost-effective way, to the most complex ones such as financial services organisations that are using Microsoft Azure as the foundation to drive new levels of productivity, create intelligent data-driven experiences and deepen business trust.

Businesses need to be agile, move quickly and respond to market demand. The power of the cloud allows them to drive agility and speed, but it also enables them to be flexible, which is important in these challenging and uncertain times.

Organisations that are scaling back or ramping up their products and services can leverage the power of the cloud and an opex model to respond accordingly.

Those businesses that run an on-premise IT environment are struggling to put in place plans that will allow their employees to work remotely coupled with the necessary business continuity and disaster recovery plans.

However, the reality is that many businesses are going to be in a hybrid state for some time as their IT environments are evolving and becoming increasingly complex.

 Managing a hybrid state and the edge

Applications are running on different hardware across on-premise datacentres, multiple clouds and the edge.

Exxaro Resources, one of South Africa’s largest heavy minerals mining companies, moved its headquarters to a new green building and migrated its on-premise datacentre to Azure, effectively reducing the entire company’s energy footprint while increasing both its data security and operational agility.

All mining sites located in dispersed rural locations, where connectivity is an issue, are now connected directly to Azure. This move cuts out a bespoke model where the sites were connected to the corporate building in the past, with the aim of creating a digital mining company.

Managing disparate environments at scale, ensuring uncompromised security and enabling developer agility and innovation are critical to success. Hybrid cloud capabilities must therefore evolve to enable innovation anywhere, while providing a seamless development, deployment and ongoing management experience.

We have introduced Azure Arc for businesses that want to simplify complex and distributed environments. It includes a set of platforms and tools that allow companies to manage their multi-cloud environment, from on-premise applications to those running in Azure or even on the edge.

More importantly, it allows them to manage other hyperscale cloud environments and helps them deal with the administration burden of running a multi-cloud environment.

 Driving innovation

The increased utilisation of public cloud services and the additional investments into private and hybrid cloud solutions will continue to enable South African organisations to focus on innovation and building digital businesses at scale.

We are seeing significant growth for SAP on Azure. We offer on-premise SAP customers the ability to take their workloads into Azure as part of the Project Embrace initiative between Microsoft and SAP announced last year. It is centred around the customer journey to SAP S/4HANA and SAP Cloud Platform on Microsoft Azure.

One such customer is Standard Bank South Africa that is making the move to significantly improve the experience customers have with the bank, while enabling it to introduce new solutions to market more efficiently.

The work that we are doing with Standard Bank is the first local demonstration of this partnership and SAP on Azure is one of the fastest growing services that we run locally in Azure.

Additionally, several organisations have decided to move their developer environments into Azure. The acquisition of GitHub and the massive global community that comes with it, sets our customers up for success in terms of driving their developer environments in the cloud.

The presence of local cloud technology means more opportunity for economic growth and innovation. Some of the innovation we’re driving are cognitive services and the Internet of Things (IoT), which accelerates customers’ digital transformation and opens the door to build interesting applications.

An example is AB InBev South Africa that is improving its cooler management and gaining new insights with IoT.

 Enabling innovation through partners

Our partners remain key to our strategy and are at the forefront of building solutions that will enable business innovation and digital transformation.

We believe that local service providers will continue to find ways to drive their value. Managed service providers are showcasing innovation in how they’re levering the power of the public cloud to extend their services and value proposition to customers.

They see the presence of hyperscale platforms as positive for the market because it enables them to provide customers with cloud solutions that might not otherwise be available.

Whether organisations are adopting a pure or hybrid cloud solution, this move will enable the foundation to drive digital transformation, reduce costs, gain insights and achieve business innovation. 

This article first appeared in Channelwise.