Loadshedding and power outages: How cloud computing can save your company
12 SEPTEMBER 2020
MARKUS VAN AARDT
CLOUD COMPUTING DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT INTEGRATION MOBILE LOADSHEDDING ESKOM
Living in South Africa means long, warm summers, beautiful sunsets, spectacular holidays and friendly neighbours. Unfortunately, for the meantime, it also means accepting and living with ongoing unplanned power outages and planned rolling blackouts - or by its public relations name, Loadshedding. Either way, running a business under these conditions can be challenging to the most experienced business owner. And if you’re business heavily rely on software systems, it could have dire consequences for you and your customers. One way of softening the blow, while saving money, is to consider cloud computing. It may sound complicated, but allow me to explain what it means.
WHAT IS CLOUD COMPUTING?
Imagine, for a second, being responsible to store and protect your all your money at home, without access to a bank account. You would need a safe, a mattress and some cookie jars to store it. Then you would need electric fences, armed guards, some attack dogs and search lights to protect it. You also need gates to close down the compound and roads for armoured trucks to move it in and out of your premises. This is what on-premise computing is like - you need to manage every aspect of your money yourself.
Now, think of what your bank can do for you with the same money. While you focus on building your business, helping your customers solve their problems and employing more staff, your bank (for better or worse) would worry about storing and protecting your money while giving you the simplicity of electronic banking and point-of-sale transacting. You don’t worry about a break-in at your premises, someone driving off with your safe or the attack dogs emptying out the cookie jar, half-filled with your hard-earned cash.
Cloud computing is a way to get someone else to own, manage, support and connect the infrastructure required to run your business systems. Just like the bank manages the infrastructure and logistics required for everyday financial transacting. Simply put, you run your software on someone else’s hardware, using their networks and power supply.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF CLOUD COMPUTING?
I am not going to bore you with the 101 reasons to consider cloud computing. I am, however, going to give you the six most relevant ones to consider for your business.
The major benefit to most organisations is a significant reduction in capital and operational expenditure. Did you know that your traditional computing infrastructure can be running idle up 95% in a normal business day, and 99.99% after hours? The nature of cloud computing allows for more systems to be running off the same infrastructure in a 24-hour cycle without deterioration of service levels. This allows for unimaginable economies of scale, which translate into lower costs to use these services.
The second benefit on our list is better security. Data and System security is one of the most important aspects to consider when operating a data-intensive business. This means you need to have pretty good security architecture protecting these systems. Such measures are expensive to implement and complex to maintain. Moving to a cloud platform could give you more, better and less expensive security solutions. Some industry experts claim that as much as 94% of businesses saw an improvement in security after moving to the Cloud, while 91% found it easier to meet data protection regulations as a result.
Within the South African context, business continuity is a significant upside driving cloud adoption strategies. To run a reliable datacentre significant investment is required to ensure effective equipment cooling, fire suppression, power supply and data connectivity. This can get expensive very quickly, especially when considering South Africa’s ongoing challenges with reliable electricity supply. Generators and uninterruptable power supplies are necessary to keep your servers up and running during power interruptions that could last multiple hours. Infrastructure outages are even more severe and can disable your business for days. My entrusting infrastructure support to cloud providers, you are no longer required to worry about this. Since these providers have multiple datacentres around the world, your systems can move to areas where computing and infrastructure capacity allows for it. Further, this model makes disaster recovery easier and less expensive to implement.
Another benefit to companies with mobile and connected workforces is increased mobility. By adopting cloud-based technology for your business, your staff can have easier access to systems and data that was earlier much harder to achieve. The use of mobile phones, tables and laptop computers allows for better customer service and smoother, faster business processes - even when the power is out. And if you are considering a remote-only workforce (after the COVID-19 crisis), you would be better off closing your physical offices for good and moving your computing needs to the cloud.
Since many of your competitors are already doing this, chances are that they will be better at serving your customers, thereby elbowing you out of your market. By adopting and leveraging the benefits of what cloud computing can offer your business, your business can become more competitive. It will provide you with the tools and technologies to better serve your customers, streamline your processes, reduce costs and increase revenue.
Lastly, if you’re worried about the world we borrow from our children, and their children, you will be happy to know that cloud computing is better for the environment due to the reduction in wasteful power consumption, lower heat emission and smaller (or even no) offices.
IS THIS FEASIBLE FOR MY COMPANY?
Indeed, cloud computing works for large, medium and small organisations. While many technology companies market and sell their products as one-size-fits-all, cloud computing truly supports the idea of organically growing an offering to fit your business needs. Because cloud computing offers such a rich and fine-grained array of services, companies using the services can pick and choose the best solutions for their requirements.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS - THE FAQs
Can my current software and services be supported by cloud computing?
In most cases your current software can be ported to a cloud infrastructure provider. In the most basic of migration strategies, virtual machines are set up inside your virtual network to replace what you currently have on-premise. More advanced software solutions could make use of the more modern facilities offered by cloud technologies, such as clustering, containerisation and microservices. Other software providers may be able to offer you ready-made software-as-a-service (SaaS) versions of their software that is cloud-ready and probably serviced and run securely from the provider’s own cloud infrastructure. Examples of these include SalesForce, Mailchimp, Slack, Atlassian and Zoom.
What if I use legacy custom-built software?
Many legacy software software systems can be ported to run on cloud infrastructure. Where a straight-forward lift-and-shift strategy is inadequate, various integration and conversion tactics will allow sufficient support for such migrations. If a migration proves to be an insufficient or wrong solution, partial or complete redevelopment of these solutions can be performed at significant lower cost while it is rebuilt as cloud-ready or cloud-native products which allows for better future-proofing of your technology architecture.
Is this an all-or-nothing strategy? Can I retain some on-premise technology?
A proper cloud adoption strategy aims at delivering the best value to the organisation. Cloud computing can take many forms, including on-premise cloud, hybrid cloud (mixing on-premise with public cloud infrastructure) and public cloud. Where on-premise infrastructure is required, a portion of the technology footprint can remain at your premises, such as biometric access control. Your infrastructure provider should advise you on the different deployment options available and recommend the best-suited solutions. You can even select best-fit solutions where you relocate certain parts of your overall architecture to a cloud provider (such as email communication, analytics or ecommerce) while leaving the rest of your operation untouched.
Can I reverse a move to cloud computing?
Yes. If you find that cloud computing does not suit your business model, budget or governance requirements, it is just as easy to move your technology environment to your own datacentre, with or without on-premise cloud infrastructure.
What about disaster recovery?
Disaster recovery and data backup are some of the simplest and easiest components to move to the cloud. This allows for lower on-premise workloads and storage costs while the core of your business computing capacity remains on-premise. It also allows a gradual adoption of cloud computing by your organisation while evaluating the idea. As far as disaster recovery is concerned, cloud computing offers one of the best solutions to modern organisations. While traditional datacentre models required companies to maintain secondary offices with duplicate infrastructure at great cost, cloud computing offers a per-use model where whole infrastructures can be duplicated in the cloud at relatively low cost in dormant state, and only pay for computing capacity as you use it.
WHAT SERVICES DO WE OFFER AROUND CLOUD COMPUTING?
As a diversified provider of technology services, we are proud to support customers who are actively looking to adopt and migrate to cloud infrastructure. We guide and support in the development and implementation of cloud strategies from inception to delivery stages. Our cloud engineering team can help implement the required infrastructure on both Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure platforms, while our architecture team consult and design infrastructure, security, integration and application architectures to support the needs of our customers. We are also able to migrate, customise or even replace your existing software solutions to operate securely and efficiently within a cloud environment.
Contact us for more information