Cloud strategies for small business in South Africa

Small business in South Africa has little benefit in adopting a total cloud strategy. Many small businesses also end up signing recurring billing contracts for cloud based services without considering all the costs. In many cases remote backup services and other cloud based offerings are not fully utilised or even understood by small business owners. There are certain types of small business that benefit greatly from cloud based services, but mostly the free offerings of the frightful five meets the low South African requirements.

Also, what a cloud is, is not always understood very well as there are two types of scaling (vertical and horizontal). This also sometimes confuses the understanding of what a cloud is.

What is a cloud?

The power (and advantage) of the cloud is best demonstrated in the ease of adding additional resources, example: using cloud technology you can setup a file server using one core of a CPU and say 1GB of storage space. It becomes very easy to scale your file server and to add resources to your file server as you can add as much additional resources as you require (of course you are billed for additional resources)

Scale and scaling

You can scale vertically (on a single physical server: install an additional CPU, or install additional RAM, or Add an additional physical hard drive or SDD drive)

You can scale horizontally by using cloud software to add additional resources to your cloud.

Benefits of Local Office Servers & Local Office Cloud(s)

No additional bandwidth costs

South Africa has very high data costs. Many small businesses use Free Google Dropbox (no cloud costs) but the actual remote worker costs when using mobile broadband, quickly runs in to thousands of Rands spent on bandwidth alone. Even when remote workers are only collaborating on 1MB sized documents. At one small insurance brokerage, the bandwidth costs were higher than the petrol (fuel) costs combined with the staff resource costs. It simply made no financial sense to ‘host large files in the cloud’ if these files have to traverse the Internet multiple times. Even after developing improved workflow and improved file compression it still turned out to be more expensive. At that specific point and for that specific brokerage they had spent so much capital on their ‘system’ that after the capital costs were included, it is now more expensive to not use the cloud. Unfortunately this same lesson will probably be repeated a few times over. Small businesses that properly evaluate their costs and benefits will have a competitive advantage or an increased profit margin.

Easy (cheap) to maintain local data backups

It is fairly simple to perform scheduled local backups and data backups could also be physically taken and stored off site. In the cloud the business has to rely on two different clouds and even then it is not easy or sometimes even possible to have physical backups.

Additional layer of local network security

Local networks could be more easily restricted through non routing, physical routing gaps and other methods which adds additional layers of security to data access. Archive data could also be more permanently stored which could also increase data security greatly. The local office operations are not affected by Denial of service, Brute force and many other Internet issues. There are also numerous other security and business risk reduction factors.

Reduction in the export of South African Rands & Employing South Africans

Spending any money at the frightful five simply means exporting Rands. When businesses install local office servers and use local cloud networks not only are they employing South African staff, benefiting the South African economy but they are also reducing the amount of money South Africa gives to foreigners.

There are also many additional advantages (and disadvantages) of operating local servers and local networks. But, as local is lekker, these are beyond the scope of this very basic article.

Have you tried calling any of the frightful five? It is much easier calling your local IT company or Local IT guru to assist you with your IT problems.

Small business in South Africa has little benefit in paying for a total cloud strategy. Supporting your local IT company also results in higher levels of service and client satisfaction. Try to use local servers, configure local backups and use local hardware and local network(s) wherever possible.