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Data repatriation has begun

A global move of strategic data from the cloud back to the internal network is under way, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

Without cloud computing, the digital world or the 2020s would look very different. Imagine no Netflix, no Uber, no Spotify. Well, many of us can and do live without them, but they are so dominant in this era, they define the connected human.

In the business world much the same applies. Cloud computing enhances anything from logistics to accounting to access to company resources. The obvious and massive benefits of the cloud to organisations resulted in a rush among companies to move all the applications and data to the cloud in the last decade.

When the pandemic struck, it was the cloud that saved numerous businesses and made possible the remote working revolution. But some would say it went too far. Companies moved resources into the cloud that either did not need to be in the cloud or would serve the business far more effectively by being stored on-premise.

And thus began a global move of strategic resources back to the internal network. So significant has been this movement that it even has a name: data repatriation.

“Data repatriation is a trend whereby businesses are transferring workloads and data from the public cloud to their own data centres or private clouds,” says President Ntuli, managing director for HPE South Africa. HPE, the enterprise services spin-off from Hewlett-Packard, provides both cloud-based platforms and on-premise storage solutions, giving it a clear view of data movement between the two.

“While there is no doubt cloud technology has accelerated innovation and agility, it is not a one-size-fits-all solution for all the organisation’s workloads,” says Ntuli. “In fact, the challenge with a cloud-first policy is that it places too much focus on where the data and workloads should be housed, when really the focus should be on what the business wants to achieve.”

The result: most organisations using the public cloud are spending far more than necessary.

“This has become such a problem that we now see numerous South African businesses shifting some workloads from the public cloud back on premises as they realise the benefits of the cloud may not be as clear cut as they once thought. Particularly where cost savings are concerned.”

Ultimately, it comes down to the traditional basics of technology investment: price and performance.

Research by US analyst firm Constellation has found that moving the right workloads to private cloud can deliver cost savings of up to 50% and can enable as far as 65% higher workload performance. The message is hitting home.

“We are seeing many South African businesses moving some workloads from the public cloud to on-premises, as they rethink the advantages of the cloud. In my opinion, cloud repatriation will continue to be one of the most important IT trends for South African businesses in 2024, as we see business leaders in industries such as financial services, mining and manufacturing currently considering repatriation.

“It may well be time for businesses to give up the thinking that a cloud-first approach is the quickest way to a more efficient and profitable operation. The reality is most organisations are already hybrid, whether by mistake or by design. But by opting for a more conscious approach to hybrid cloud, they can still realise the promise of the benefits that drew them to the cloud in the first place.”

The benefits of shifting to a “hybrid by design” model, he says, are extensive:  from cost optimisation to improved efficiency, agility and security.

“It opens the door to a hybrid edge-to-cloud architecture, where data is not confined to a data centre at all but generated and processed at the edge, and thereafter stored in the cloud. This is critical because it means businesses then have the architecture needed to leverage their data as a strategic asset.”

* Arthur Goldstuck is CEO of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Follow him on social media on @art2gee.

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