Low adoption of cloud computing

Introduction

Cloud computing as defined by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) refers to a model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources such as networks, servers, storage, applications, and services that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction (Mell & Grance, 2009). According to Bayrak, Conley & Wilkie, 2011), cloud computing enables a shift away from computing as a bundled hardware and software product that is acquired through fixed capital investments, to computing as a location independent and highly
scalable service that is acquired on-demand over broadband networks from large-scale computing centers or “clouds” on a pay-per use basis with little or no fixed capital investment.

Over the years, the adoption of Cloud computing has been slower due to various reasons such as mobility, bandwidth, the fear of losing control, security, privacy, data protection, performance and uptime, lack of Cloud business brokers, and unawareness (Raza, Adenola, Nafarieh & Robertson, 2015). It has taken many years for people to adopt Cloud computing and
at slow rate. The ability to access computing resources or develop a robust IT infrastructure in developing countries has been difficult. Cloud computing as a new computing paradigm can now provide remote access to these resources that were otherwise inaccessible.

However, in Sub Saharan Africa, Cloud computing is an emerging technology that is yet to be fully explored and there is also a limited number of reputable resources to consult concerning adoption of cloud
computing (Abubakar, Bass, & Allison, 2014). There has been a slow uptake and adoption of cloud computing in Kenya. According to research carried out in 2016 by the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) and Kenya
National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), 35.6 percent of public sector institutions used cloud services in comparison to only 22.9 percent of private businesses. This trend was largely due to the government strategy to digitize services across the public sector according to Kenya’s vision
2030 launched in 2007 which had Science Technology and Innovation as one of its pillars.

The research also showed that the biggest reason for slow uptake and adoption of cloud computing in Kenya is lack of sufficient knowledge about the services. Cost, a poor regulatory framework, and security concerns were also high up there as reasons for lagging behind. Companies fear that
hosting data remotely on the cloud exposes them to vulnerabilities. Also, most business executives are wary of cloud computing according to Hegel and Brown (2010). Convincing managers to store their most sensitive company information is a hard task if the providers of cloud service cannot guarantee security (Munene, 2017). It is therefore important to provide more information about cloud computing and its advantages because if
cloud computing is to achieve its potential, there needs to be a clear understanding of the various issues involved, both from the perspectives of the providers and the consumers of the technology (Marston, Bandyopadhyay & Ghalsasi, 2011).

Cloud computing adoption contexts


The adoption of cloud computing in Kenya can be viewed from three contexts namely Environmental, organizational and technological.

Environmental context

Trading partners and competitive pressures play a significant role in determining whether to adopt cloud computing or not. In Kenya, the environmental context is influenced by the nature of the business. For instance, the effects of environmental context on firms in manufacturing are different from those involved in the services industry. This is because firms on the same business activity compete with each other. If one has not embraced cloud computing technology, then others do not find solid reasons to adopt cloud computing. Nevertheless, in sectors that technology is key were, organizations are willing to adopt cloud computing so as to be more competitive.

Customers also put pressure on these firms causing a positive effect on technology adoption. However, these pressures do not lead to compulsory acquisition of technology since the customers receive the services they want using the current setup. Research shows that firms are aware of technological needs to enhance the proper delivery of services but they choose not to shift to that technology. However, when they are pressurized by competition they aggressively adopt such technologies swiftly (Oliveira & Martins, 2010). This revelation is consistent with earlier studies from Chong and Ooi (2008) and implies that when firms are faced with intense competition, they tend to implement changes more aggressively.

For example, Wal-Mart in the United States requires its partners to either adopt radio frequency identification or lose their business (Yee-Loong & Ooi, 2008). On the basis of these studies, it is evident that firms in Kenya have not been adequately made aware of the specific benefits associated with adopting cloud computing in their business operations. This will then create a framework for the adoption of the cloud as businesses shall be cognizant of the cost implications as well expected profits.

Organizational context

Top management support is a crucial significant factor in cloud adoption, especially in the Kenyan context. This paper found out that top managers are sometimes not willing to invest resources in new technology when there is existing and working technology. Nevertheless, some manager’s unwillingness to adopt new technology is a result of scanty knowledge that they have about cloud computing. Most take a “wait and see” approach
, especially on emerging technologies. According to studies by Makena, 2013, without top management support, SMEs are less likely to adopt new technologies. The technology readiness of the firm also affects the adoption of cloud computing technologies in Kenya.

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Firms with fewer employees and adequate ICT knowledge are generally not ready with adoption as opposed to those whose employees have adequate ICT skills and resources. For instance, technology-based firms are willing to adopt the technology. Small firms express a big desire to adopt the technology while larger ones are less willing to change. This can be attributed to the fact that decision-making is easier in small firms as opposed to the long and tedious protocol-based decision-making process in large organizations. This argument is consistent with the works of Low, Chen, & Wu. (2011) that organizational competency and readiness might help to leverage existing information technology applications and data resources across key processes along the value chain when the firms embed the cloud computing service.

Technological context

Benefits that a firm expects to accrue from a certain technology motivate it to adopt because employee appreciation of the relative advantages of the adopted system to raise work efficiency. Cloud computing has the advantage of increased efficiency in the provision of services. The relative advantage of cloud computing services implementation could improve the speed of business communications, the efficiency of coordination among firms, customer communications, and access to market information mobilization. ( Armbrust, Fox, Griffith, Joseph, Katz, Konwinski, & Zaharia, 2010). The paper found out that most firms in Kenya are aware of cloud computing.

Nevertheless, the inadequate knowledge about the cloud computing concepts by many businesses is a major drawback towards making decisions pertaining to adoption. Though the relative advantage is clear to most of organizations especially with regard to the implementation costs. This agrees with the sentiments of (Buyya, Yeo, Venugopal, Broberg, & Brandic, 2009) that the cost of implementing new technology systems, the cost of the systems themselves can be comparatively high and often represent a major barrier to their adoption. The complexity of the proposed cloud services and compatibility are also points of concern to many firms. However, these are not primary factors to consider when adopting such
technology.

In the Kenyan context, most ICT practitioners believe that there will be seamless compatibility with their current technology or with few manageable modifications of their current systems. Therefore, though tough complexity and compatibility may not appear as a general point of concern, it still poses a challenge in the adoption of cloud computing in Kenya.

By adopting Cloud computing Organizations could benefit in the following areas;

Flexibility

Organizations would be able to leverage manpower, more quickly and as per company needs because cloud computing helps in distributing workloads across the company and can be remotely accessed by end-users, irrespective of their location. Companies could even hire a global and, perhaps, cheaper workforce when they use cloud computing. Also, resources and staff can be quickly scaled up or down according to the pace of demand. This gives businesses a competitive edge wherein they can quickly meet the demands and expectations of their customers.

Business Agility

Traditional setups and practices serve as roadblocks for the creation of new business services. Cloud computing could address this well, by helping create new efficient services; as a result, the resources would be managed more seamlessly and efficiently across the organization.

Innovation

By bringing computing within the business units and lessening their dependency on IT, cloud computing has given businesses an edge that drives innovative solutions that can be implemented speedily.

Smoother Mergers and Business Transformation

Use of cloud computing can promote faster business expansion. Any merger or acquisition that enables businesses to share services based on cloud architecture would be helpful for new business models by helping increase efficiency while facilitating growth.

Great Efficiency at a Lower Price

Cloud computing is very cost-effective as companies need not invest in expensive, heavy infrastructure;rather, the same or even better level of computing would be obtained on lighter and economical personal workstations via the cloud. Piloting an application on the cloud is
inexpensive and faster. In fact, various studies report that 82% of companies save money by moving their computing to the cloud.

Minimum Maintenance

Cloud computing takes away the huge cost associated with the maintenance and upgrade of software, renewal of licenses, and maintenance of infrastructure as well as the employment of technically skilled staff for software upkeep. The businesses will also benefit from having the
latest and updated services at their disposal.

Increased Resource Sharing

Cloud technology provides the flexibility of sharing free or underutilized resources across business units, thus increasing the Return on Investment. The organization would not need to install new programs and configure lengthy settings for each business unit. The resource acquisition and release can be dynamically and cleverly managed.

Better Collaboration

Employees can share files and documents on the cloud. This increases collaboration and reduces unnecessary duplications or generation of multiple versions of the same document. The centralized repository on the cloud server ensures that all the concerned parties are accessing the
updated and single version of the shared document.

Enhance Data Security and Better Backup

Files on personal laptops and desktops are prone to security breaches that can adversely affect business. Thefts and break-ins of personal machines by hackers are very risky. The same sensitive information on the cloud is far more safe and accessible from any location. Often the cloud providers have multiple backups for the data. Many third-party clouds encrypt data for
enhanced security. Similarly, recovery from disasters such as hardware failures would be much faster and would have the least impact on the business, due to cloud-based solutions.

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Environmentally Friendly Technology

Using cloud computing decreases the carbon footprint of an organization since it does not have to invest in huge resources that consume energy. SMEs tend to benefit the most from savings on energy expenses. Cloud computing might be the right way for businesses to improve their efficiency, enhance their competitive edge and keep up with changing IT innovations. However, enterprises need to be careful while shifting from their existing infrastructure heavy model to the flexible and cost-effective cloud computing.

Reasons for the low adoption uptake of cloud computing

Despite the positive factors and drivers of cloud computing the decision to adopt Cloud Computing is challenging and range from strategy, technical, political, human resource capacity and social issues. The common challenges that usually affect cloud computing adoption revolve around security (Mujinga, & Chipangura, 2011) have highlighted the key issues to cloud adoption as security and privacy. Below are the common reasons as to why there is low adoption of cloud computing in Kenya.

Cloud Security

Cloud security is the protection of confidentiality and integrity of data stored and ensuring its availability. A computer security breach is where an organization loses information, personal records, or other sensitive data to unauthorized parties. However, the single point of storage and computing in a shared multi-user environment increases security risks. Authentication has remained a major challenge in cloud computing for a long period. The lack of a proper security and authentication management standard makes most businesses and organizations in Kenya fear adopting cloud computing. Issues related to security and privacy or Data Security concerns cited by many cloud customers range from the confidentiality of
customers and organization data, Identity management and risk of identity theft, risk of data being deleted or manipulated both intentionally and unknowingly as well as the fate of data at the end of the contractual agreement between the service provider and the client.

Cloud Computing Reliability

The reliability of cloud computing provides IS/IT system and solution architects, developers, and engineers with the knowledge needed to assess the impact of virtualization and cloud computing on service reliability and availability. Internet courage in developing economies such as Kenya is still a challenge due to lack of infrastructure, in this case, telephone network
coverage, for dial-up internet does not cover most of the areas in Kenya such as rural areas. Reliability and availability of services issues are concerns that revolve around disruption of services through systems failure, power outages, and infrastructure disruption i.e. fiber cuts, etc. This poses a risk to the cloud users to access the data on the cloud platform.

Regulatory Frameworks

The complex and extensive legislation in question provides for the exercise of coercive measures in connection with law enforcement and national security. Despite the fact that a number of questions remain unanswered in the areas of governance and regulatory conformity with respect to cloud computing in Kenya, this new model of IT resource utilization is developing
at a rapid and sustained pace, chiefly on account of its ease of use and direct service accessibility via the Internet, and above all to the productivity gains and cost savings it enables. It is a fact that the cloud computing environment, although relatively recent, assigns due importance to good
governance and to the integrity of systems and data which currently do not exist.

Issues over the geographical location of the data storage

The movement of data into and out of cloud services will often result in its falling under the rule of a different jurisdiction. The cross border transfer of data is generally opaque to the user raising issues of control; subsequently, the question will arise on who is responsible for the data
during its cross-border movement, this is a huge worry to many Kenyan organizations and businesses.

Growth and spread of infrastructure

In Kenya infrastructure growth is particularly concentrated on the capital cities and major towns such as Nairobi, Kisumu and Mombasa perceived to be of key economic benefit. The essence of cloud computing is to allow flexibility in ICT services. This possess a great issue especially for organizations whose core operations stretch outside the cities and towns covered.

Contractual and service level agreements

The concerns related to contractual and SLA’s revolve around geographical movement of data as well as the bonding contracts an example if a cloud service client seeks to move to a different service provider what happens to the data hosted at their current service provider!? We find users locked and bonded to service providers despite the providers not meeting the SLA’s.
This is a fear to many businesses who in many cases are forced to incur additional costs.

Standardization and measurement of quality of service

Lack of standardized architecture, design and deployments poses a great concern since there are many players in the industry and there no set standards to adhere to as well mechanisms to ensure that the service providers will strictly follow the given standards to deliver services.
Lack of standardization generally culminates to poor quality of service, with quality being a concern not only to organizations but also their customers, such concerns make many potential customers to cloud services skeptical on its adoption.

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Integration

Many applications have complex integration needs to connect to other cloud applications as well as other on premise applications. These include integrating existing cloud applications with existing organizational systems and data structures. There is a need to connect the cloud application with the rest of the organization systems in a simple, quick and cost effective way. This challenges also lead to many firms delaying to shift to the cloud platform until there is a clear framework to address such concerns.

Performance / Insufficient responsiveness over network

Delivery of complex services through the network is clearly impossible if the network bandwidth is not adequate. Most of the organizations in Kenya do not have enough bandwidth and are waiting for improved bandwidth and lower costs before they consider moving into the cloud since many cloud applications are still too bandwidth intensive. The firms in Kenya need to develop their ICT infrastructure and have in place adequate internet connections, adequate bandwidth, and stable power supply.

Cloud Computing Expertise

Cloud computing aim at reducing administrative efforts from non-IT people, consequently expertise in cloud computing is required for technologies such as virtualization, cloud APIs, and web services and for regulatory compliance e.g. laws, data compliance, tax and payments There is need for continuous capacity planning and building in institutions since this expertise can be a strong enabler in utilizing public cloud offerings for institutions in developing countries.

Conclusion

The dominant paradigm in looking at cloud computing adoption involves identifying contingency factors that facilitate or hinder the adoption decisions in an organization. Though adoption of new technology is a complicated issue, the different factors in technological, organizational and environmental context vary across different innovations. The cloud service providers have an enormous task of creating awareness among all players in the business environment so that they can critically assess their internal structures and review them in readiness to adopt the new technology.

Cloud computing is a relatively new phenomenon which have great potential of decreasing business operation costs and increase their efficiencies. Understanding the context of cloud computing adoption provides an elaborate assessment criterion of factors influencing cloud adoption and has shown that firms particularly in Kenya need to firm up their organizational, technological and environmental contexts so as to readily incorporate the new technology.

According to Yeboah-Boateng, & Essandoh, 2014, the nature of cloud computing should offer enough scope to generalize findings beyond the geographical area of study and to SMEs in other regions and even countries as cloud computing transcends boundaries and regional ICT infrastructure is not considered a major obstacle for the adoption process. Businesses in Kenya have to position themselves and align their objectives towards adoption of cloud computing as a new technology entrant in the market.

In Kenya, technology advancements have fairly penetrated various markets. Therefore it will not be an uphill task to get personnel with technological prowess and appropriate technology base of running cloud applications over large networks. Going forward, future studies could base on this paper to qualitatively and quantitatively find out the factors that affect cloud adoption by specific industries. Various stakeholders such as cloud service providers, policy makers in Government should also be included in future research.

References

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