Why businesses in Kenya need to adopt a cloud mindset

By Christopher Saul

Driven by an increase in local data centres and the availability of cloud computing platforms, organisations in Kenya are some of the biggest cloud spenders in Africa. The growth of cloud computing in East Africa has opened the door to new possibilities, increased business digitalisation, and overall economic growth. According to a study commissioned by Amazon Web Services (AWS), Kenya stands to unlock Kshs 1.4 trillion of additional economic value by 2033 through cloud adoption, representing 0.56% of the country’s total GDP. AWS has also announced it will open a development centre in Nairobi, citing Kenya’s technology sector as a source of growth and job creation.

But, while all this is happening, many local enterprises struggle with conceptualising what the cloud can do for their business. They may also harbour misconceptions of what cloud technologies entail, and how migrating to the cloud impacts traditional methods and understandings of enterprise IT. What they need is a new way of thinking.

Going public is not always the answer

When engaging with clients on cloud computing, the thinking I generally encounter is that the cloud is, simply, the public cloud. Organisations assume that the model of a third-party managed platform, delivering resources and services to remote users around the world, is the extent of cloud computing as it pertains to business activities and operations.

Fair enough – the public cloud is very prolific. According to the IDC, worldwide revenue for the public cloud services market totalled more than $500 billion in 2022. But it is only one type of cloud computing that, ultimately, should form part of a business’s overall strategy which also considers and incorporates private cloud, hybrid, and multicloud environments.

It’s also worth mentioning that the public cloud is not appropriate for every business or industry. For example, a bank or financial institution may not be able to store customers’ data in the public cloud because of data sovereignty rules and regulations.

The growth of cloud means organisations can invest in infrastructure, platforms, and software as services, and gain access to IT infrastructure despite potential barriers such as a lack of local infrastructure. But how exactly should they be using that infrastructure?

Build something today, take it to the cloud tomorrow

When we talk about a cloud mindset, we are talking about enterprises rethinking their relationships with technology and how they position themselves as tech leaders in their industries. While we may focus on actual IT processes, having a cloud mindset is also about transforming business processes, culture, and personnel to become more agile and open to changes within the organisation.

A cloud mindset, in practice, is not just a case of what environment you host your data and applications in. It also means:

  • Using automation platforms to configure systems, deploy software, and orchestrate advanced workflows across teams and environments.
  • Replacing or decomposing monolithic applications into cloud-native microservices and APIs.
  • Deploying containerisation software that bundles an application with all the files and resources it needs to run on any infrastructure.

Importantly, how you approach enterprise IT today affects how you can approach it tomorrow. For example, if an organisation builds an application based on old-fashioned, monolithic architecture, it could face significant challenges when they eventually migrate it to the cloud.

As Kenya grows, so too can your business

Cloud computing’s scalability makes it particularly relevant to developing nations like Kenya. Whether you are a small retail start-up in Mombasa, or a decades-old financial or telecommunications institution, the cloud lets you increase or decrease available IT resources based on your organisation’s current needs. And remember, there’s no single, perfect cloud architecture or infrastructure; they should be defined by what they do instead of what they’re made of.

As more cloud vendors and major industry players grow their presence in Kenya, local enterprises have an opportunity to work and partner with leading brands and suppliers to get the most out of a cloud-native approach. When great minds think alike, it makes sense that they should work together.

(Christopher Saul is the Territory Sales Lead for East Africa at Red Hat).


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