In this era of doing businesses on Facebook, WhatsApp, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter and other online based applications, it is no doubt that Cloud is one of the pivotal platform in the mix for human existence. There is a growing clamour for the adoption of Cloud in data management across the spectra of private and public engagements in Africa. Why has it taken Africa so long to realise the positive potentials in global economy that is driven by Cloud adoption? In this exposition, Olubayo Abiodun, Clifford Agugoesi and Chimezie Ndubisi dissect the various sectorial implications of the delay in cloud adoption and the positive trajectories that have trailed the new energies to refocus Africa’s private and public data enclaves in the Cloud
Bandwidth Glut As Fast-track For Cloud Adoption By SMEs
THE world is evolving with the increasing dynamics of the Internet of Things (IoTs) and Internet of Everything (IoE). The proliferation of devices and technology has also brought about broad based dynamics in the management of data in businesses. It is within the same technology dynamics that Micro and Small -Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) continue to seek their relevance. To fit into the emerging scenarios, MSMEs and SMEs must learn how to operate in an environment of changing technology, increasingly demanding customers, and growing economic pressure.
Most cloud computing services architecture is based on bandwidth. Infrastructure deficit is a tell-tale that besets most economies in Africa. Bandwidth unavailability is the one that directly speaks to the challenge of Cloud adoption. This is more profound especially in the rural areas of developing economies. And this limits the diffusion of cloud computing. High bandwidth is especially important if the data to be transferred include large files such as high quality multimedia content and videos. A major challenge in the developing world is thus related to the bandwidth shortage or the lack of access to reliable broadband connectivity
Experts across the continent have continued to support the clamour for SMEs to migrate their businesses to the Cloud. They are convinced that cloud computing would transform the way businesses consume ICT services. Some participants at recent conferences surmised that high price and erratic quality of bandwidth in Africa are the two of the major factors that have held back cloud computing. With the arrival of innovative and affordable data products such as uncapped ADSL products aimed at SMEs, this picture is rapidly changing.
Cloud computing allows SMEs to access technology applications as online services provided by telecommunication service providers rather than needing to install them on their PCs and servers. These services are billed for per-user, per-month. That’s according to Tim Walter, Nashua Mobile Executive Head of Marketing. He said that the benefits of cloud computing are hard to ignore since it can drive down IT operational and capital costs for small businesses while giving them richer functionality and more business flexibility. Walter points out that many small businesses are already using some cloud services such as hosted email, hosted mobile messaging services such as the BlackBerry service, and cloud storage solutions like Dropbox without being aware of it. But in the next phase of the market’s development, they will start moving large and more complex applications to the cloud as they seek ways to improve efficiency and save money. Examples may include line of business applications and hosted PBX solutions.
“Cloud computing is irresistible for a small business because it turns something that used to be capital expenditure into a running cost, freeing up precious cash for other uses. It can also help them to reduce the amount of money they spend on IT support from internal staff or external service providers,” said Walter. Because the applications are hosted on a service provider’s infrastructure, the SME may not need to buy and run its own servers anymore. What’s more, it will be freed of the headache of keeping applications patched and up to date. “Another benefit lies in the fact that they can expand their use of cloud services when they need to,” said Walter. “They don’t need a lot of server capacity that sits idle outside of month-end and they can easily add more users to the system as the business grows.”
With the trend towards remote and mobile work, the fact that applications and data stored in the cloud can be accessed securely from anywhere in the world is another plus, Walter notes. Mobile workers can plug right into the data they need while they’re at a customer’s site and capture data or orders without coming back to the office. “In many cases, a cloud-based service will be more secure and feature-rich than a system a SME could build itself,” said Walter. The reason for this is that the costs of the infrastructure are shared across the customer base, meaning that the service provider can afford software and hardware out of the average SME’s price range.
Nashua Mobile believes that cloud computing will become mainstream in the SME market. “With mainstream software vendors like Microsoft aggressively pushing the cloud, it will be the computing model of the future,” he adds. According to market researcher, IDC 63 per cent of South African organisations are already investing in some form of cloud technology or plan to do so in the near future.
Africa Governments Still Unsure
AT various fora, stakeholders have often wondered why governments in Africa are clay footed in encouraging cloud computing for largely public utilities. Not a few private stakeholders too are lethargic about adopting cloud infrastructure in their business configuration. The erstwhile IBM Country Manager in Nigeria, Taiwo Otiti spoke to Africa Telecom and IT correspondent in Lagos on the threats and potentials associated Cloud infrastructure. “IBM is in a unique area in terms of Cloud. We build Cloud systems and build data centres world-wide,” he stated.
Yet many governments on the continent are concerned about the security vulnerability of data centres hosted in foreign lands. Otiti would rather allay fears often associated with the hacking threats to data centres hosted abroad. “Our cloud systems are actually in various countries all talking to each other. What we then do is work with governments to have their hybrid clouds/private cloud. So we have infrastructure that we can work with government to build private cloud just for government that seats inside their country. Or the privates sector which we are working with various companies like MainOne and so on.
He said that companies building cloud infrastructure for private or public institutions take cognisance of the unique profiles of the various institutions. “How do you build a private cloud for the use of the company either a private cloud or SMEs or for institutions like Galaxy Backbone who are basically for government? So, all of those we have different ways of going about it. And we have the infrastructure to do it. We have the designs to go into public and private clouds. And you could see that a lot of the countries, from what you are saying, are already putting in place laws that say that their data must reside in their countries. Yes, the data must reside in the country and we are seeing that not just in Africa. It is not just about keeping data in your country.
He stressed that the concern of the stakeholders must go beyond just keeping data within a country of the data usage. According to him, the frontiers of skills management and development must be strengthened. “How do you build skill sets and capacities for citizens because everything is about how to build the skill sets for protectionism and the idea that we need to build skill sets locally. Apart from building skills locally, how do you put sites on the system of records? We are also seeing in Africa because of their lack of infrastructure majority of things have gone wireless. Ninety per cent of people who use phones in Africa are mobile phones which brings a different set of opportunities in the sense that how do we now do what we do as IBM which is called CAMSS – Cloud, Analytics, Mobile, Social and Security. This is because when you have an open system like that you need a lot of security, so we worked extensively to put in security models: those to deal with the data sets, mobile phones. Now how do you start making insights on that data? We have even gone beyond selling insights on these data. How do you talk about healthcare, security, border control? How do you talk about transportation and how do you pay in the bus without using cash. So a lot of things are not going around the mobile. Remember that the millennium children are very adapted to the mobile phones. So now, how do we leverage that because a lot of the ways IT is used have started changing that is why we are putting all the assets we have together on a cloud platform for development. Not just apps but a system of records and allowing people to be certify on that and using it and when they develop something that is app, that app can be transport to all kinds of devices. So you develop one and push them to any device.
Exploring Hybrid Cloud
SPEAKING to the potentials of data analytics as a veritable tool for delivering good governance and efficient service deliveries to the citizenry, Otiti said that one of the strategies that IBM deployed was to map out hybrid cloud. “We have mapped out what we call hybrid cloud. The reason we have some good layers of blue mix is that we don’t have to be inside every single data centres. We have the tools to take data from Immigration to customs to security. They will only publish the data with those tools they want that other person to see. And based on that we can place an insight of analytics on it. If you go to the airport today you will have to pass a screening of the secret police agent and later go to the Immigration Officer. We can tie all that together with the kind of tools that we have and build a work flow. So we have a workflow tools and we have things which we call middle wares that can integrate various kinds of data which can be in different data centres. So immigration can have theirs which can tie things up and we can have work flows on top of it for any business case you want to do. We have tools that can tie a bank transaction to a tax. We can do all that.
Infrastructure deficit becomes a huge plank in defining the sustainability and viability of most businesses, particularly in the developing economies. Nikki Summers, Director, Sage One, East and West Africa capture it this way: “When you’re in a business on your own, you can quickly run into a range of operational challenges. From a computer hard drive that fails during tax filing season, client’s that haven’t paid for services, to changing deadlines and the constant need to seek new business – it’s not always easy to keep your head above water”.
Cloud infrastructure has come handy in bridging the gap for the enterprises seeking to proactively manage growing costs. One such effort in the deployment of cloud infrastructure was articulated in the Practice Management Software. By highlighting the operational hurdles often encountered by small business, Summers summarized the huge financial outlays that small business often encounter in order to meet up with the frequent retooling of the technical infrastructure that such business have to execute. “For example, Practice Management Software provides accounting professionals with all the core features they need to run their businesses in an easy-to-use and affordable way,” according to Summers. “If the practice management software can be integrated into the accounting software, and be used to run clients’ accounts, then that is even better”. The software should offer project tracking and timesheets, invoicing and debtor management, management reporting, security and customer relationship management.”
With such facilities, small and/or large businesses may not necessarily have to invest heavily locally in such infrastructure since it could be leveraged via such providers operating in the Cloud environment. “With software moving to the cloud, accountants can access their clients’ and their practice’s books on any device, from anywhere using the Internet,” says Summers. “You also don’t even need to worry about installing software on your PCs or backing up your data, because you can access the data and the application from nearly every modern Web browser or from a mobile app,” she says.
The beauty of the Cloud access is the capability and flexibility it offers to the users of the facilities. She highlighted the positive transformation that cloud infrastructure has brought about in Kenya. “You and your clients can be logged in at the same time processing transactions – and you’ll always know you’ll have access to the latest live data from your clients’ accounts. Moving to the cloud is an opportunity to get closer to your clients’ businesses and transform your own working practices and succeed in Kenya’s competitive economy,” Summers stated. To buttress this point while reviewing the adoption of the facility in Kenya, she said that some 43,000 businesses are already using the Sage One Accounting software, between them processing
7.5 million transactions a month. She explained that Sage One is a full accounting system, with all the features an accounting practice needs to run successfully and manage its clients’ accounts. This includes a robust general ledger; customers, invoicing and quotes; management reporting; and more.
Why Sage One Partners MTN For Cloud Computing
GIVEN the bourgeoning telecoms market in Africa, the MTN Group seized the opportunity of its expanding networks on the continent to partner Sage Pastel Accounting. Following the partnership with MTN Business, the Sage One Accounting cloud accounting software is now available in a number of major markets throughout sub Saharan Africa. The distribution agreement so far cover all 10 countries (Nigeria, Uganda, Cote d’lvoire, Guinea Conakry, Cameroon, Swaziland, Zambia, Ghana, Rwanda and South Africa) in which MTN offers cloud services.
When the partnership was sealed, it did not only sound good for the local enterprises on the continent, it also took the officials of Sage Pastel to the moon. “We are excited to appoint MTN as the first pan-African business partner for our cloud-based software. Its success in Africa and the Middle East proves that MTN understands emerging markets and the needs of their businesses and consumers, Sage Pastel Managing Director, Steven Cohen said. “With its robust infrastructure, wide presence throughout the continent and public cloud capability, MTN Business is perfectly positioned to help us expand in the fast-growing African market for cloud-based business solution. It has the credibility, the market reach and the SME focus to help us become a major player in new territories around Africa,” he added.
Sage One Accounting is an online accounting solution, developed specifically for small businesses in Africa. This cloud-based solution gives SMEs on the continent a new level of flexibility in the way they run their businesses. “As a leading provider of digital solutions in Africa, our aim is to offer our clients access to flexible, customisable cloud solutions that help them to improve productivity and reduce costs,” according to Mteto Nyati, MTN Group Chief Enterprise Officer. “As a simple, secure online accounting solution, Sage One Accounting ticks all the right boxes. It gives small business owners the control and confidence they need to achieve business success.”
Cohen adds that Sage One Accounting is a perfect solution in a market where consumerisation has taken hold and where SMEs are looking for business applications that are as affordable, seamless and easy to use as consumer mobile apps. “We use our mobile devices not only to “Whatsapp” friends and look up the weather, but also to conduct business,” says Cohen. Because Sage One Accounting is online, you can simply log in from wherever you are and start working given MTN’s vast African owned networks with LTE in 3 markets available already. You can access your data from the cloud, which means that your data is available online, anywhere, anytime and that you’re always working on the same data as your accountant or colleagues.
The Sage One Accounting mobile apps put customer and accounting information in the palm of your hands. Log on from wherever you are to view customer information, record notes, search for customers and contact them directly from your device.
Find your way to your customer’s offices using map links and process quotes and invoices – all on the go.
Impact of Cloud in SMEs in Rwanda
THE profiles of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) have kept growing in developing economies with the significant impact they are making in wealth generations, job creating and entrepreneurship. In Africa, SMEs are regarded as a key sector driver of the local economies because of the average contribution of about 45 per cent of total employment and up to 33 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
This is the statistics that is motivating MTN Business to develop ICT solutions for SMEs business growth on the continent. The pilot schemes have been tested in Rwanda and Cameroon early this year. The new cloud delivery platform in Rwanda and Cameroon enables this segment of its customers to access cloud services with greater ease. The web portal was further made available in Swaziland, Ghana and Uganda by the end of April 2016. The Cloud service provides a comprehensive view of the product portfolio available for business customers from MTN, as well as its partners. “This platform was developed to address some of the pain points experienced by our SME customers, in particular.
Asked to explain how Cloud infrastructure can be made easily accessible to SMEs because of the daunting procedures, Debbie Minnaar, Acting Executive, MTN Group Enterprise Business Unit said MTN Business, is acutely aware that to enable the growth of this key sector, ease of access to solutions that drive efficiencies and lower costs, such as Cloud, is vital.
She admitted that while the benefits of Cloud services for SMEs are numerous, the process of accessing and purchasing such services can be daunting. Through the MTN Business Cloud Services platform, the emphasis is on simplifying this process and meeting customers’ needs – essentially we are putting control in our customers’ hands,” Minnaar says. Through the MTN Business Cloud Services platform, customers can use single login credentials for all services and make use of “Live Help” to resolve any issues immediately and in local languages of the market from which the customer is accessing the platform. In addition, customers will be able to pay for products and services they require in their local currency, using different payment methods, including MTN Mobile Money.
Omotayo Ojutalayo, General Manager for SMEs, MTN Group Enterprise Business Unit envisaged that the platform which is set to go live in all MTN markets by the end of 2016, is aligned to the company’s strategy for the SME segment. “We recognise fully, the value of SMEs in our markets and we are committed to aiding their growth and development. Within the scope of MTN Business, we have a significant opportunity to become an effective strategic partner of SMEs and to contribute to this key sector of the economy by providing relevant and cost effective ICT solutions tailored for this segment, such as the MTN Business Cloud Services platform,” Ojutalayo stressed. MTN continues to evaluate new cloud-based solutions for enablement and growth of SMEs.
Why SMEs Are Resisting Movement To The Cloud?
THOUGH there is increasing clamour for SMEs to integrate their businesses into the Cloud, it would seem that the SMEs are kicking against the move. Steven Cohen, managing director of Sage Pastel thinks the position of the entrepreneurs is in ingrained in the illusion of control SMEs get from managing their own PCs with their applications and data on a hard drive.
“Many SMEs are uncomfortable about the idea of moving their data into the cloud because it means thinking about applications and information in a new way,” Cohen says. According to him, this is often the most risky way to manage their information. Without the right skills at their disposal, many SMEs find it difficult to keep their data backed up, their applications patched, and their hardware physically safe from theft and fire. If you have your information stored on a hard drive, it’s vulnerable to fires, theft or loss. It’s also all too easy for someone to back up your data on a flash drive and to walk out of your office with your valuable information in his or her pocket. What’s more, with devices such as smartphones, tablets, and PCs proliferating, the risks are growing. Each device with locally stored data is another vulnerable point for the business – another place where data can be lost or stolen. Rather than depend on local expertise and infrastructure, Cohen said that “An automated system that allows you to back your data up every day to a secure, remote location is the best way to safeguard your data”. He admonished that “the easiest and most affordable way to get that is to use cloud-based solutions. It’s an easy way to tidy up the IT mess.” He said that using the cloud for accounting and other applications means keeping their information stored in a secure data centre where the professionals look after it”.
Enumerating the benefits of the virtual platform, Cohen said that the cloud offers the following benefits when it comes to security and business continuity: A good cloud provider invests in the best hardware and software, including the best information security solutions. That means it’s better equipped to handle malware, hackers, DDOS attacks, and all the common cybercrime threats and nuisances of the information age. A robust cloud application will keep your data backed up to the latest minute without the need for any special action from your side. Not only does this reduce your risk of losing valuable data in a crisis (such as fire or the theft of a computer), it also means your team is always sharing and working off the latest data. Unlike a small business, a cloud provider can afford to double up on servers, storage, power and telecoms infrastructure, and so on.
That means it can provide far higher uptime for your application than you could yourself. And if there’s a power outage or Internet failure at your office, you can simply move to a coffee shop, log in and carry on working. Keeping your software up to date with the latest version and downloading the latest patches is a nuisance. In the cloud, someone else takes care of it for you, saving you time and money.
In what looks like a validation of Cohen’s position, Cloud backup provider IronTree estimated that one in five South African small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) experienced some form of data loss once a year. Such development was most commonly attributed as a result of accidents and natural disasters, data corruption, or theft of computing devices. Cohen said that such incidences and losses could be mostly curtailed by moving the applications and the associated applications into the cloud. According to him, the cloud offers an opportunity for SMEs to neaten up their IT environments and thereby eliminate many of the traditional risks that lead to data loss and systems outages.
Stakeholders Building Cloud Capacity In Africa
SEVERAL international corporations have keyed into the growing potentials of Cloud environment in Africa with support for capacity building. IBM, Oracle, Microsoft, SAP, and MNOs among others have developed training opportunities and infrastructure deployment in support of migration to the cloud. One of such opportunities to enhance capacity development in Africa was the brainstorm organised by Oracle in Mauritius in September 2016.
The platform provided opportunities for exchange of best practices and gaining expert insights from top cloud strategists. It was a great opportunity for Oracle customers who took part in the two-day ‘Africa Executive Summit’. The summit was used to drive awareness and highlighted the impact of Oracle Cloud Solutions for business growth.
Participants at the summit gathered to understand various aspects of the cloud adoption process including capacity building, innovation, security and the ability to leverage Internet of Things (IoT) for driving business growth with Oracle cloud solutions. Claire Alexander of Oracle Corporate Communications said that it was a great opportunity for Oracle customers to learn the essentials on Cloud computing and the solutions that Oracle has developed.
Also attesting to the impact of Clouding computing in Africa, the Vice President of Russia, Africa and Central Europe at Oracle, Janusz Naklicki, said cloud adoption in Africa is growing at a rapid pace as organizations now realise that cloud offers them speed, value and better return on investment (ROI). “Africa is a priority market for us and the Africa Executive Summit is in line with our commitment to further drive this interest and support our customers in Africa in their journey to the cloud” he said. “Cloud technology will undoubtedly drive the next phase of growth for businesses in Africa and with our completely integrated cloud platform that spans all layers of the cloud, we are uniquely poised to help SMEs, large organisations and governments in Africa transition to the cloud” Cherian Varghese said.
Cloud Offers Enormous Growth Trajectories
AT the 7th NigeriaCom series which held at the Oriental Hotel, Lagos, Nigeria from 20 – 21 September, participants listen to Head IT and VAS, Ultima Limited (Ultima Studios), Wale Oyepeju as he regaled his audience with his presentation on: Utilising the adoption of cloud services in the online and digital industry. He lucidly made it abundantly clear why businesses, particularly SMEs, cannot ignore the cloud. While acknowledging that SMEs may be tepid with adopting Cloud computing, he hinged this to the little knowledge of the benefits of cloud computing at their disposal. Delving into the challenges often standing as hurdles for the adoption of cloud computing by SMEs, he highlighted high capital costs, access to scarce skills and retention of inherited IT systems. These factors, according to him, made it tough for SMEs to achieve good ROI. And this is the reason some entrepreneurs often conclude that IT is a hindrance to business growth.
Rather than adopt a negative perception to integrating businesses in the cloud, Oyepeju said that Cloud computing offers enormous growth trajectories for SMEs. Besides, he said that cloud infrastructure offers flexible investment opportunities for SMEs who can adopt pay as use or leverage just the cost of the capacity deployed. The flexible cost enables the SMEs to avoid incurring costs of local investments on hardware, technical support or hiring of IT specialist to manage local infrastructure. By moving to the cloud, entrepreneurs are able to save costs on overall IT investments.
He also assured that SMEs and start-ups also need not fret about the vulnerability of their data stored in the cloud. One of the key steps being taken to address the security challenge is the confidentiality agreement signed by the parties. Most cloud companies now offer confidentiality agreements for the data hosted on their servers to make the claims on security a non-issue. Besides, the experts have introduced advanced security protocols by also offering encryption of data and e-mails, which gives a complete assurance to the SMEs hosting their data in the cloud. Cloud also gives the flexibility of diverting the SMEs in-house talent towards new dimensions of business development, marketing, customer service, which is of prime importance to generate more revenue without having increased overhead costs. It relieves the SMEs from investing energy in maintaining IT infrastructure and diverts it in directions for generating more profits for the organization.
The best benefit of the cloud is the flexibility in accessing information when using the cloud. As a user, you can be in any part of the world and you can still connect to the cloud and access your sensitive information needed. You do not have to rely on your in-house IT personnel to make specific data available to the roaming employees at any time. One of the benefits of Cloud adoption, according to him, is the reduced IT complexities. He stressed that complexities are mostly reduced from the user side and transferred to cloud providers when cloud infrastructure or service is used. Added to this incentive of cloud adoption by SMEs is the opportunity of scalability. Oyepeju is enthralled that cloud can offer real time scalability for online and digital businesses. He said that cloud resources to be utilized are flexible to increase capacity and efficiency with time or no downtime. One of the strong points is the cost agility which according to him is achieved in infrastructure as a service when the reduction in the demand for service translates to reduction in cloud rent.
“Reduction in this Opex free up cash to invest in other key business initiatives,” he says.
Also making cloud adoption very enduring for the benefits of the SMEs is the offering of reduction in Capex on IT infrastructure. “Cloud adoption will reduce capital expenditure that shows up in company balance sheet, especially at this financially conservative time. For an industry that is as dynamic as online and digital, IT leaders will do well to shift focus, leveraging the cloud in delivering agile IT spending. IT needs to move from asset ownership model to Asset operational model as far as IT budgeting is concerned,” he said. He stressed as well that entrepreneurs cannot ignore the record high performance and availability which cloud offers. According to him, there is a high degree of service availability with cloud infrastructure when compared to on-premises. “Inherent risks of downtime due to enterprise issues such as resource limitation and power outage are reduced with cloud adoption. Cloud providers sign SLAs that guarantee 99.9 per cent uptime. This is possible due to the application of best in class disaster recovery and fallover tactics that ensure that your business does not suffer downtime. You also get all the patches, upgrade, backup/recovery, incident and problem managed.
Cloud adoption, according to him, also support mobility and collaboration. This speaks to the fact that the nature of online and digital industry allows the workforce to be mobile and not work on-premise. And this is delivered at reasonable cost with cloud adoption. New cloud options now delivers more benefits for BYOD (Bring your own device) implementation. Cloud based work flow and file sharing tools encourage employees to do more together and the results of their team work real time. He said that central to the continual use of the cloud is security. “Cloud security offers business continuity when data is lost or compromised due to loss or damage to on-premises computers. On the issue of competitiveness, Oyepeju is convinced that cloud support faster go-to-market for Small Medium Enterprises. It also allows their IT to be forward thinking with the use of enterprise-class technology in rolling out products and services.
Several industry technocrats could not agree less on the positive impact of cloud adoption on the environment. The common argument is that cloud adoption reduces carbon emission since you don’t have to power infrastructure on-premises. Besides, Oyepeju and industry enthusiasts said that real time analytics and dashboards will offer IT and finance insights into product performance, resource utilization, leading to smart, informed and proactive decisions in this digital age.
Challenges In Cloud Adoption
WHAT are the challenges of Cloud adoption? Speaking directly to the Nigerian environment, Oyepeju stated that price point is one major factor that determines cloud adoption in Nigeria. “IT needs to justify cloud utility cost in comparison with on-promises (despite the many benefits). Any migration plan is dropped if the price point is not better than on premises offering. Transport, monthly/annual recurrent rent, support, and additional customization costs are some of the price components that make price-point a pain point of cloud utilization. There is currently no favourable price point to support cloud utilization for backup and archiving services in the Nigerian broadcast industry. Traditional warehouse is still widely used.
The adoption reluctance was hinged on the following fears:
Fear of exposing critical and sensitive data to unauthorized access. Most Financial institutions in Nigeria still host IT services on-premises
Fear of job loss once infrastructure is moved on the cloud. Any idea to adopt cloud is frustrated due to lack of understanding of the opportunities cloud offers in terms of encouraging IT staff develop new skills and be more relevant in the digital age
Fear of being locked-in and not able to migrate data to another cloud provider or back to on-premises. The unknown cost associated with data migration also contributes to the lack of trust in Cloud.
Fear of increased monthly rent: Cost increased considerably as cloud usage increases. Decision makers do not necessarily want to increase Opex and any unknown picture of what recurrent cost will look like will not make cloud adoption to scale through.
Another challenge that has bedevilled cloud adoption in Nigeria, in particular, is the absence of key infrastructure. He illustrated this point with the poor electricity in Nigeria, which according to him does not favour cloud consumption. “Electricity is needed to run cloud facilities in country. Cost of cloud utilization will reduce when there are local providers with access to stable power supply. Another argument is that fixed broadband penetration in Nigeria is at 8 per cent which the government promised in 2015 to increase to 36 per cent. Industry stakeholders still hold same assertion that wireless broadband is expensive for cloud adoption for many industry stakeholders. The Internet has to be faster and cheaper for cloud to gain ground in online and digital industry.
Flip flop policy of government is another major constraint for cloud adoption. Experts at different fora have continued to finger as a goiter on the neck for most entrepreneurs and foreign direct investments. Oyepeju concurred noting that government policies and legal framework to support cloud infrastructure deployment is weak. There is no known effort at developing legal framework that addresses issues on multiple taxation, QoS, privacy and right of way. According to him, establishment of parastatals like NOTAP (National Office for Technological Acquisition and Promotion) is a welcome development but cost of cloud adoption will reduce if there is an enabling policies, structure and incentives to produce cloud equipment in Nigeria.
Is your business ready for the move to Cloud? By Lebohang Thulo
Cloud computing is the current buzzword in IT, but how much do we actually know about it? Chris Willcocks, Director of cloud and line of business at SAP Africa, an enterprise software and services supplier breaks down what cloud computing is and how it can benefit your business in the long run by lowering the cost of ownership and speeding up development.
What is cloud computing?
Simply put, cloud computing provides a variety of computing resources, from servers and storage to enterprise software applications such as email, business and consumer applications all delivered over the Internet.
Can you give us a basic technical explanation of how cloud works?
All computing software and hardware is hosted in data centres by the cloud service provider. End users access their particular software applications over the internet without having to implement this software and services locally in their own data centre environments.
What are some of the services available for SMEs using cloud?
SME’s can run their full suite of required applications in the cloud. These include, but are not limited to, their ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), email, human resources, customer relationship management and procurement applications. These applications are managed centrally by their particular cloud services provider.
What are some of the advantages for SMEs to migrate to cloud?
There is no requirement for the SMEs to set up and run their own IT infrastructure and software environments. Cloud allows companies to lower the total cost of ownership and speed up development with infrastructure and customer services, which shortens new product cycles and reduces the barriers to innovation.
This enables SMEs to utilise the same software as large corporates and consume just what they require to run their businesses. As an SME you can start small and grow the number of users and applications as your business grows. Therefore, there is a very low barrier to entry. Cloud also provides relatively quick access to these required applications with shorter implementation timelines so you can take advantage and get the business benefit of the software in a shorter period of time. Cloud solutions are also configurable allowing SMEs to easily extend solutions and adapt to changing needs over time.
Is South Africa ready? How do we rank compared to other countries with cloud use and penetration?
Definitely, we have the network infrastructure in place to enable all organisations to leverage off and benefit from cloud solutions. Cloud use in South Africa is maturing and is definitely the mid-to-long-term strategy of many organisations.
What’s the one thing that business owners can do right now to get their businesses ready for the migration to cloud?
Business owners need to have a well-defined business strategy in place. Cloud will not define your strategy but cloud can then be utilised as a key enabler of this business strategy to enable your business success.
What are some of the best cloud services that you would recommend for SMEs?
All of them. Honestly, through the cloud, SMEs could run the full suite of business applications in the cloud, from email to core ERP applications to HR, customer relationship management and procurement.
Courtesy: www.smesouthafrica.co.zahappy wheels