Unlocking potential: hosted cloud platforms and their role in empowering local businesses

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Hyperscale environments should not be seen as a universal solution for IT and hosting challenges. While these environments offer extensive capabilities, they may not be accessible to many local businesses due to skills gaps, writes Japie Botha, operations executive at iOCO.

Hosted cloud platforms often provide a more suitable option for South African businesses, offering greater ease of use and proven cost-effectiveness. Additionally, they boast more robust support structures, often localised, compared to hyperscale cloud alternatives.

Despite the global shift to cloud platforms like Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform or Microsoft Azure, businesses the world over are starting to realise that the cloud can hold immense complexities and comes at a significant cost for certain types of workloads if not managed correctly. As a result, some organisations have re-evaluated their cloud strategies. So, what does the cloud journey look like for these businesses today?

Currently, markets are seeing a notable trend, as organisations are starting to repatriate some of their workloads back onto either on-premise hardware, or into local hosted cloud platforms. This trend has been seen across the European market for a few years and is now becoming an action point in South Africa (and across the continent).

Of course, hyperscale environments are still relevant in the South African context, but these should not be considered a “solve-all” when it comes to IT and hosting problems. These complex environments are usually out of reach for a large majority of local businesses, which lack the skills to drive full value from hyperscale. Often, certain workloads simply aren’t designed to be cloud-based, and traditional applications don’t always fit in the cloud. In instances where hyperscale is the right fit, businesses should engage a cloud partner that has the skills needed to support them within that complexity.

While hyperscale cloud offers certain marked benefits, it is clear that hosted cloud platforms are often better suited to many businesses, with greater ease of use. Hosted cloud platforms have proven to be more cost-effective, simpler, and offer richer (and local) support structures, when compared to hyperscale cloud counterparts.

The key here, however, is to partner with the right cloud services provider. Of course, it is essential that the provider has the requisite skills to execute a smooth migration to cloud, be it hyperscale or hosted; but this is just the tip of the iceberg.

The right provider should offer a local touch. This has come to the forefront as customers engage with hyperscale platforms, which often lack a personal relationship with the provider. By leveraging a hosted cloud platform through a local partner, businesses receive reliable and timeous support in real-time, from businesses that understand South African nuances and are ready to deliver against them.

Added to this, businesses seeking a cloud implementation partner should settle for nothing less than fully personalised support. This entails a dedicated portal which offers unfettered support access and a clear escalation path all the way to executive level.

A hosted cloud partner should offer built-in services like change management, incident management, problem management – at no extra cost. At bare minimum, 24/7/365 support must be made available via a reliable service desk, telephonically, via email, or on the console – backed by a robust escalation process. Self-service models also drive autonomy, allowing users to own the platform, spinning servers up, or deleting unused servers, as and when they’re needed.

Today, adaptability and cost management are key. When it comes to hybrid flexibility, hyperscale is fairly complex in comparison to what a hosted cloud can offer. With a direct connection to customer premises, hosted cloud partners ensure easier, more affordable connection.

Here, cost predictability is of utmost importance. In hyperscale, businesses budget for the infrastructure – but then everything else is paid-for professional services. This results in complex, volatile billings. With a hosted cloud, and the right partner, clients enjoy full transparency, with accurate invoicing and no big surprises at month end. Cloud also drives an OpEx based model, eradicating the need for a large CapEx investment.

Determining whether to shift workloads back from hyperscale to on-prem or hosted cloud is not, however, a decision that should be made without strategic intent. Hosting in-depth workshops with the cloud partner at the onset is critical. During this phase, the partner will identify the current challenges, analyse why the customer wants to move, and determine whether a shift will, in fact, solve these issues.

With a deep understanding of the motivation and logic for the move, and with clear insight into any technical issues already prevalent a sound decision can be made. Should the customer choose to remain in a hyperscale environment, the partner will be in the best possible position to address the challenges experienced and help it to navigate and leverage this environment. Whichever direction the business takes, with the right level of planning, any future shifts will be handled more strategically and with a greater success rate.

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