CAPE TOWN – EARLIER this month, the government lifted South Africa’s national state of disaster, with critics urging that ongoing intervention remained necessary, for fear of business collapse due to the energy crisis.
This was followed by the announcement of Stage 6 load-shedding, which will “remain until further notice”. In addition to this, IT experts have been warning of a technology collapse in the event of increased stages of load-shedding or grid blackout, causing unparalleled business disruption.
The concern is if systems fall over, how fast can they get back up again, and are South African businesses geared for a tech collapse?
Prior to load-shedding, cloud hosting has increasingly become the chosen option for South African businesses. However, many businesses are still reliant on on-site servers and workstations due to concerns of complexity, accessibility and cost.
The Disaster-Recovery-as-a-Service (DRaaS) market is expected to grow from its current worth of $8.8billion to $23.6billion in 5 years, indicating that the market will see more and more organisations shift to cloud-hosted disaster recovery solutions.
The need for more and more SMEs to have faster and less interrupted business continuity at a lower cost appears to be why the market is growing at such a rate.
The environment in which SMEs operate has changed dramatically in the last few years, with customers expecting improved business processes, automation, and cutting-edge tools from every business they engage with.
These are made more accessible via migration to cloud computing, which makes business more agile, more resilient, and more stable – all important considerations while operating in the complicated South African business environment.
This is made all the more challenging by load-shedding, crime, and natural and man-made disasters.
“Cloud computing makes it possible for businesses of all sizes to have on-demand access to web-based applications, data storage, processing, and a range of other services, all at affordable and predictable costs,” says Steve Porter, MD of IronTree, a Metrofile Group company.
“Specifically, it means that South Africa’s SMEs can continue to transact and function without worrying about the consequences of an on-site server being compromised by power failures, theft, or cyber-security incidents.”
Choosing a service provider that sets up and configures a Virtual Private Server (VPS) for each business’s hosting needs means that each element of their migration to the cloud and ongoing access, is carefully managed with their individual needs in mind.
This should include full user support, top-notch cybersecurity measures, backups, and comprehensive disaster recovery protocols.
Hosting a business’s data and applications in the private cloud behind a VPN, means that all authorised team members can access its applications and documents, from any location, via computers, tablets, or mobile phones, whether they’re in the office, out on the road, working from home, or even travelling abroad.
This agility means that the business keeps on running, no matter what’s happening around the people that make it happen.
With SMEs being particularly conscious of costs and budgets, many cite cost concerns as their leading reason for being cautious to migrate to cloud computing.
“Moving to a hosted cloud solution removes several line items from a business’s budget,” Porter explains.
“Businesses that operate in the cloud no longer have to budget for server upgrades, maintenance, or replacement, with the cost of insuring their hardware no longer necessary.
“Furthermore, your hosting partner covers the costs of all cybersecurity interventions, making sure that all licenses that protect you from malware, ransomware, and denial of service attacks are maintained and current,” he adds.
Many South African businesses depend on legacy accounting or enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions that are hosted on on-site servers and are wary of the effort and cost of migrating to a cloud-based solution.
“Choosing a hosting service provider that’s familiar with all the locally preferred solutions means that it’s easy to move these legacy systems into the cloud, without losing any ability to connect, transact, and manage each process within the business,” Porter says.
“Importantly, moving these solutions into the cloud means that they’re fully protected from any disaster situation, with an effective disaster recovery strategy. This means that the business is back up and running in as little as 30 minutes, should anything unexpected happen.”
Choosing to migrate to cloud computing via a VPS with the support of an experienced service provider; that offers 24/7 support means that South Africa’s SMEs can reduce their operating costs, boost productivity, benefit from stronger security, and offer their teams the flexibility they need to keep the business running despite load-shedding or other challenges that may arise.
A recent survey highlighted that of South African SMEs that had adopted cloud technology, 75% said that they had seen an increase in efficiency, while 56% saw a decrease in costs.
More than half said that it had improved their ability to work from a location of their own choice, while a quarter said that it had improved their security.
Business owners that insist on holding onto legacy systems and terrestrial solutions may see their businesses continue as usual – for now – but they will struggle in the long term to maintain their competitive edge in a marketplace where other role players are benefiting from cloud solutions, including always-on access to data, protection from cybercrime and terrestrial server failure, among other potential disasters.
– CAJ News