Head in the clouds: How and why Kenyan enterprises should adopt a cloud mindset

By Christopher Saul

Cloud computing is slowly but surely becoming a cornerstone of Kenyan enterprises’ IT budgets. The adoption of public cloud services is expected to generate Sh1.4 trillion in economic value over the next 10 years and it’s easy to work out why. The cloud made very sophisticated technologies and services available to businesses, especially smaller ones and those that face geographical and logistical challenges when it comes to sourcing sufficient IT infrastructure.

However, cloud computing is not a simple “plug-and-play” situation. Its adoption represents a significant shift in Kenyan enterprises’ relationships to their IT infrastructure. In a way, it requires enterprises to think about their infrastructure more holistically and consider their expenditures beyond conventional hardware and applications. There are a few things enterprises need to keep in mind about the cloud.

A cloud mindset isn’t just the public cloud

As much as we talk about the important role of hyperscalers and the overall growth of cloud computing – multiple providers have launched, or plan to launch, regions in Kenya – the public cloud is just one part of the mindset, rather than the whole of it.

Having a cloud mindset involves asking yourself the following questions:

  • Are our resources scalable and how quickly/reliably can we scale them to meet our needs?
  • Are we creating applications that can run on multiple platforms seamlessly?
  • Is my IT team/department making use of automation frameworks?

Automation, in particular, is an important component of the cloud mindset. For example, if an organisation requires additional instances of their operating system (OS), IT personnel should not have to sit down and manually download and install those instances on every machine. Automating that process enables organisations to minimise the need for human involvement and allows them to direct attention and resources elsewhere.

Avoid getting “locked in”

When migrating to the cloud, organisations may be inclined to attach available proprietary products and services that the cloud provider in question offers. This can yield additional value, but it can also increase the client’s dependency on that provider and potentially limit their options when it comes to running their systems on-premise or on other platforms.

To avoid this potential lock-in, organisations should first consider their architectural needs and outline the systems and capacity they need, rather than going straight to the cloud and making a plan once they’re there. That way, organisations can retain flexibility when it comes to short- and long-term objectives, as well as ensure operability regardless of the cloud provider they decide to work with.

Collaboration is also essential. Regardless of what their ambitions are, enterprises should involve and engage with all stakeholders during the planning, development, and deployment stages of their cloud journey. Vendors are incentivised to work together to deliver the best results, which in turn benefits the customer and decreases the potential for vendor lock-in.

Instant access and flexibility

The cloud mindset also involves the question, “What can my team achieve using the same amount of people?” Cloud computing has given enterprises in Kenya, and indeed across Africa, a very flexible and instant access environment. This means teams can meet infrastructure requirements and modify their applications more quickly. As software grows to play a greater role in business across Africa, the ability to make changes to your product or service on the fly could mean the difference between success and failure.

That said, enterprises must remain aware of what they’re running in the cloud. Running a virtual machine (VM) on a public server costs money and many organisations can’t afford to waste money on resources that have become redundant or aren’t yielding value. This may seem obvious, but it is something organisations can easily overlook. Fortunately, that oversight is another process organisations can automate, along with monitoring for infrastructure performance issues, system availability, and potential security risks.

Not every business is ready for the cloud and not every business has a need for it beyond a simple on-premise solution. But that doesn’t mean those in Kenya should not start thinking about it or pivot towards cloud-native development for digitising their organisation. Put simply, the cloud is about building things in a proper, modern, flexible, scalable, and automated way. By engaging with vendors about an initial adoption plan, enterprises can make that a reality.

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


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