While cloud computing remains a rather fluffy concept for many South African business people, local businesses are increasingly using cloud-based applications – many without realising that they are “in the cloud” at all.
So says Andre Joubert, GM of MWeb Business, who notes that one of the most frequently cited reasons offered by businesses for adopting a cloud application is that it delivers when-you-need-it, where-you-need-it data and applications – without the need for any major investment in IT infrastructure and skills.
“However, our experience at MWeb Business is that businesses are taking a step-by-step approach into the cloud – adopting one or two cloud-based applications or services initially, before moving on to try others,” he adds.
According to Joubert, the top 10 cloud applications or services that appear to be driving cloud adoption in South Africa are:
1. Mail and messaging – the ability to access e-mails from any location, at any time and on any device is a powerful tool for any business. Microsoft Exchange has proven to be the world’s most popular business messaging platform, but the cost of running an MS Exchange server ‘in-house’ is simply too much for many businesses. The availability of a cloud version of Exchange – Hosted Exchange – gives all businesses access to the power of Exchange.
2. Archiving – Compliance, discovery and knowledge management issues require businesses to keep every one of the hundreds of e-mails received and sent every day, but few businesses have the wherewithal to do so. With cloud computing, cost-effective, secure e-mail archiving becomes a viable option.
3. Backup – Cloud-based automated online backup services can copy, compress and encrypt files and send them via a secure Internet connection to be safely stored in a high-security data centre. No human intervention is required nor is special hardware or consumables that are themselves at risk of failure.
4. Storage – Cloud storage is one of the simplest applications of cloud computing. This type of storage not only overcomes problems associated with businesses having to invest in physical storage media (that can fail), but is also useful for sharing a lot of different information in different digital formats, as well as providing access to all data files from any location.
5. Security – Staying abreast of constantly changing Internet-borne security threats – from viruses and malware to spamming – requires constant vigilance. By subscribing to a cloud-based security service, businesses no longer have to implement or maintain their own security solutions. In addition, they can get the protection they require while only paying for what they actually need.
6. Virtual servers – A truly virtual cloud computing solution that offers businesses the capacity and performance of a top-end server without having to invest in or maintain any hardware. A virtual server solution can usually scale extremely quickly, giving the business the computing capacity and power they need, when they need it, for as long as they need it.
7. CRM – Cloud-based CRM solutions give businesses access to powerful CRM functionality at a fraction of the cost of investing in their own CRM applications.
8. Collaboration – Communication and collaboration across enterprises, or even with external business partners, is now possible without the expense or technical hassles normally associated with supporting sophisticated software applications.
9. Hosted PBX – A cloud-based, hosted PBX solution offers a remarkably cost-effective way for a business to get high-end PBX features and all the advantages of IP telephony affordably and without risk.
10. Video conferencing – Video Skype is a basic cloud-based video conferencing solution – but it is not sufficiently robust for business requirements. Business-strength, cloud-based video conferencing solutions make it viable for all businesses to conduct face-to-face meetings with colleagues and customers, anywhere in the world, without having to leave the office.
Source: it web – Press Release – 11 September 2012