Cloud computing has become an increasingly popular technology for businesses of all sizes, offering numerous advantages such as increased agility, scalability, and cost savings. The opportunities of cloud computing are expected to expand in the future, with the potential for even greater innovations and new business models.
However, along with the opportunities come challenges, such as data privacy and security concerns, dependence on third-party providers, vendor lock-in, complexity of managing multiple cloud environments, and lack of in-house expertise and skills. These challenges need to be addressed in order to fully realise the benefits of cloud computing.
Looking ahead, the future of cloud computing is expected to bring even more advancements, such as serverless computing, edge computing, and AI-based cloud services. There is also a growing focus on data privacy and security.
We caught up with Richard Muthua, the Executive Head Cloud & Cyber Security at Liquid Intelligent Technologies for the East Africa Region.
Richard talked about cloud computing in regard to its opportunities, data privacy concerns, security concerns, and how business can best utilize cloud computing as a technology innovation.
- What do you see as the biggest opportunities that cloud computing offers businesses in the near future, and how can they take advantage of them?
Cloud computing provides businesses with flexibility which allows them to scale quickly, reliability and security which ensures that data is always protected. Businesses can also benefit from reduced overheads thanks to improved access to company information and paying for services that you need such as storage as opposed to paying for a whole suite of applications that you may never use.
Cloud also allows users to access company information across multiple devices hence simplifying the collaboration process amongst employees. It can also help organisations track customer analytics and sales performance by generating customised reports to help businesses meet their commercial objectives.
In the unfortunate event of downtime or any other unforeseen incidents, cloud services will ensure that you are able to retrieve your data within a short period and continue with your operations with minimal interruptions.
- With the increasing number of cyber-attacks and data breaches, what are the biggest data privacy and security concerns that companies need to address when adopting cloud technology, and what are some best practices they can implement to mitigate those risks?
Cyber threats keep evolving at a rapid pace especially in our region where a lot of organisations, particularly in the public sector, who remain vulnerable to ransomware. Automating updates for all your software applications is one of the best ways to ensure that your networks are safe. Upgrades usually incorporate latest security features that counter exploits engineered by hackers. Applying zero-trust frameworks ensure that network access and account privileges are available to authenticated users only.
Regular scanning and taking inventory of your network by removing unnecessary hardware and software applications establishes control of your operational environment. Looking out for possible network intrusions, updating operating systems and employee awareness campaigns are other ways an organisation can employ to mitigate cyber risks.
Over and above, the implementation of technical controls, employee awareness about the risks, ensuring vigilance and knowing what measures to take in case of a cyber-attack are at the core of organisations staying safe online. Employees are the first and best line of defence for any organisation.
- As more companies move to the cloud, how can businesses effectively manage multiple cloud environments and prevent vendor lock-in?
Engaging multiple cloud platforms is now standard industry practice because it allows organisations to deploy their networks in several locations and helps with operational resilience, availability and cost control. To ensure long term success for a multi-cloud strategy, it’s important to streamline vendor management, have consistent security policies in place, incorporate hybrid cloud concepts and centralising IT governance which might require on premise systems.
- In light of the growing complexity of cloud computing, how can businesses ensure they have the necessary in-house expertise and skills to manage their cloud infrastructure effectively?
CIOs and IT staff need to familiarise themselves with cloud technologies and products from Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform (GCP) and Microsoft Azure as the major providers. Liquid C2 already has partnerships with all these providers as a managed Cloud Service Provider which allows us to distribute their respective cloud solutions directly to our customers. The partnership also comes with high levels of qualifications and experience which means engaging us can also bridge any knowledge gap tat may exist within organisations.
You also need to be familiar with programming languages, database and network management, automation of cloud infrastructure so that they are not reliant on constant human intervention and adopting hybrid cloud models.
Other skills required include cost and workload management, analytics which helps organisation to transform and process data and change management which helps staff to seamlessly switch from traditional on premises server environments to cloud set-ups that are fluid.
- What are some emerging trends in cloud computing, such as serverless computing and edge computing, and how can businesses begin to explore and implement these technologies?
Edge computing is the most popular at the moment as it allows for more data privacy, faster data transmission, security and increased efficiency.
Other trends to look out for are disaster recovery, multi and hybrid cloud solutions and cloud gaming which is bound to rise due to increased adoption of 5G technology, IoT and blockchain.
Serverless cloud solutions have become popular due to ease of use and ability to quickly develop, deploy and scale cloud solutions.
- What do you see as the future of cloud management and automation tools, and how can businesses leverage these tools to optimise their cloud infrastructure?
IoT will continue being relevant in the near future as it comes with innovation in real time data analytics and cloud computing. The quality of connectivity will also increase, and data can be stored in the cloud for further analysis and enhanced performance. Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robotic Process Automation (RPA)Infrastructure as a Code (IaaC), Low code no code are also some tools that are growing in popularity from a cloud management perspective.
- How do you see the role of IT changing as more businesses adopt cloud technology, and what skills will be most important for IT professionals in the cloud era?
Within the next two years, 85% of businesses will have a cloud first principle. As already mentioned, it will slash costs, improve organisational flexibility and boost efficiency. Businesses need to understand that improving your IT is more than just investing in modern technology. The traditional IT workforce who are well versed in developing applications with older IT frameworks need to be reskilled or upskilled for the cloud environment. Digital innovation labs that help professionals develop applications on vendors’ cloud platforms will be crucial as more organisations adopt cloud technology. Ultimately, the adoption of cloud will catalyse the morphing of IT into a more strategic position.