As annoying as it is to talk about load shedding, it is a factor in our daily lives as South Africans that has had an indelible impact on how businesses are run and more recently a major factor in cloud adoption. In fact, the ongoing discussions about the threat of a total grid collapse from a cloud perspective have led to a new pandemic trigger.
Enterprises have not seen load shedding as a major factor in accelerating cloud adoption or even switching cloud providers. These discussions focused on the typical day-to-day considerations such as digital transformation, financial freedom, application mobility and all these tremendous benefits. But as companies face another existential crisis amid the looming threat of a grid collapse, they must face the reality that they are doomed if they do and doomed if they don’t.
The cloud continuity promise
Just as an end user needs electricity to run a data center, a cloud provider needs electricity to keep their data centers up and running and to provide the cloud workloads and infrastructure accessed by their end customers. And downtime costs companies. For example, according to Gartner, the cost of downtime averages $5,600 per minute, and that’s not even counting the cost of load shedding.
In view of the electricity crisis, cloud providers are taking on a new role that goes beyond pure IT service providers. They’re possibly a key to keeping the actual lights on. As a result, they employ mechanisms to ensure their own ongoing business continuity, such as: B. alternative power supplies and renewable energy solutions that enable its customers to provide continuous, uninterrupted services to customers.
This is key for the end user dealing with the potential of a network crash. Yes, many companies have some form of alternative generation capacity in place, be it a UPS, an inverter and battery system that charges from the grid, a generator, or a hybrid grid and solar environment. And now, with the tax incentives the government is offering to companies to harness the power of the sun, that number will rise. But it’s costly to take everything offline — especially a full on-premises data center, and that’s the math CIOs play with.
This also makes using a cloud provider attractive as a DR or failover environment.
Evolving CIO considerations
It’s not a problem unique to South Africa. In Europe, rising energy prices and war-related gas shortages are hurting manufacturing and fueling inflation. It could be argued that having lived with load shedding for so long, as South Africans we are better prepared to handle outages. However, it is ultimately a global problem that requires new entrepreneurial thinking.
As CIOs move from CIO 1.0 to CIO 2.0, they must consider all of these existential factors. Yesterday it was the pandemic, today it’s the energy crisis, and beneath it all are global corporate sustainability goals, all of which are paramount for the CEO. The CIO 2.0 needs to start thinking like a CEO, which means thinking about how to literally turn on the lights of a digitally transformed company that relies on electricity to survive.
What we personally see as part of this new awareness is a move by companies to partner with co-location companies. These cloud providers promise uptime, offer a Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service (DRaaS) site, and the cost benefit of not running a data center. They are also ahead of the renewable energy curve. Not just to help customers achieve their corporate sustainability goals, but to ensure the very survival of the business.
A good example is our Zero Carbon Committed (ZCC) cloud partner initiative, which we run in collaboration with our VMware Cloud Verified providers who operate infrastructure, energy and carbon efficient data centers based on our software-defined data center technologies (SDDC) and Have obligations to use electricity from renewable sources.
In South Africa, initiatives like this go beyond mere sustainability goals, as a customer can start identifying cloud partners who will help keep the lights (and systems) on in the event of prolonged load shedding times or a grid outage.
Leave the light on
We may feel like we’re marching into a dystopian future. But as South Africans we are exceptionally resilient, and innovation doesn’t happen when things go smoothly.
While we’re still pondering the possibility of a grid collapse and pinning a nation’s hopes on the shoulders of a new electricity secretary, at least we’re not without options. And one of those options is to keep the lights going by moving workloads to the cloud. In summary, the reflex during the pandemic was to move as many workloads as possible to the cloud so people could work from home, while the new reflex is to move the same workloads to the cloud for business survival to secure.