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While there are many challenges that have preciously inhibited the adoption of cloud computing in Nigeria, Covid-19 and its associated challenges have demonstrated to many companies the benefits of cloud computing.

This is according to Laurel Onumonu, AGM and head of the cloud business unit at Cyber Cloud in Nigeria. Omulomu was explaining the Nigerian cloud landscape at the virtual VMWorld 2020 Sub-Saharan Africa Press briefing that took place on the 30 September. The press briefing was part of  the VMWorld annual event.

The Sub-Saharan briefing included a round-table discussion with Lorna Hardie, regional director of VMware Sub-Saharan Africa (who also chaired the proceedings), Joe Baguley, VP and technology officer of VMWare EMEA, Mark Reynolds, the commercial business executive of VMware Sub-Saharan Africa, Ian Jansen van Rensburg, the lead technologist and senior systems engineering manager of VMWare Sub-Saharan Africa and Dave Funnell, senior cloud provider manager of VMWare Sub-Saharan Africa.

VMWare also invited a few of their clients to the roundtable to provide case study information to discuss how VMWare held up in their businesses.

A regional market in infancy

Omulomu, whose company provides flexible, scalable and secure cloud solutions to variety of industries in Nigeria, said that cloud computing was still in its infancy in Nigeria, although it had grown increasingly more appreciated since Covid-19. “ It's not new. There is awareness and a lot of innovative CIOs are aware of it and considering it,” she said.

She said that while many CIOs are still comfortable with in-premises data centres or have even taken baby steps to co-location environments, that is not really cloud computing.

“People are still more comfortable in investing in infrastructure, and cloud doesn't involve any capex,” she said. 'So I think we are still in transition,” she said.

She added that she expected the situation to change in the coming year. “Covid-19 has shown companies that on-prem and co-location are still capital intensive, and they still need to move to a proper cloud,” she said. The need for staff to work remotely during lockdown also added to the argument for cloud computing, as it doesn't need staff to manage it.

Omolomu said her optimism about increased adoption in Nigeria emanated from the fact that Cyber Cloud had received a large number of enquiries, requests for verifications and proof-of-concept from companies considering moving their workdloads to the cloud. “More growth is expected,” she said. This is where more awareness and education campaigns will help drive adoption, she said.

The challenge in changing track

Omulomu acknowledged that for many companies in Nigeria, considering a move to cloud computing poses some major challenges, limiting adoption rates. While the CIOs appreciate that there are savings in not having capex, “some leaders are more comfortable in their zone and if they are still doing well, change is difficult,” she said.

Another challenge is that some Nigerian companies are heavily invested in infrastructure, and they can't just walk away from it and their contracts. It would cost them money, she said. There are also concerns are about the reliability, and security of the cloud, Omulomu said.

Large corporate needs vs SME

In an online interview with Dave Funnel, Fairoz Jaffer, who is the chief technology officer of First Technology in the Western Cape in South Africa, spoke about the differing needs of  large corporates versus small enterprises. He emphasised that price is not the only determinant when selecting a cloud solution. 

People sometimes fall into the trap of saying “put it in the cloud!” every time they have to store data, thinking it's an easy and cheap solution to the issue of the moment. The problem arises when they want to move that data, and they find out that the company is locked in a contract with that vendor, he said.

Jaffer said the conversations he  had with large companies usually centre around the fact that customer must have the choice and flexibility to move workloads to another cloud without interrupting business processes. Price should not the only factor, he said. This means that “the solution should not be vendor-dependent,” he said, while also emphasising that VMware helps create flexibility for the clients.

His conversations with SMEs usually revolve around where they are, where they want to go and how they want to get there. We help them put together the building blocks, so that when they are ready, they can use them to build their envisioned cloud future, he said.

VMWare has previously emphasised that their solutions aim to allow customers to be able to use any app, on any cloud, any device, anywhere.

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