Although the concept of cloud computing has been around for years in the United States and in Europe, this notion is finally taking off in South Africa thanks to cheaper and faster bandwidth, maturing services and a need for more flexibility. “We are excited to provide these innovative services for the South African market. Enterprises are ready to put their crown jewels ‘in the cloud’, and who else can do it exceptionally well?” reassures Loubser.
What is great about cloud services is that the cloud delivers pretty much all IT needs over the public internet, a private network between a company and its service provider or a network shared by other companies for economies of scale. All these options are made totally secure in such a manner that corporate information is not compromised. The services include computing power itself, pumped up to meet demand in peak seasons and scaled down in low periods. Cloud computing can also handle data storage, so one does not need to invest in masses of storage space. Most commonly, the cloud is used for software services such as e-mail, collaboration tools and business applications, including payroll, enterprise resource planning and customer relationship management systems.
The beauty of getting all these services via the cloud is that a company does not have to invest in the hardware and software, which takes away the worry of upfront capital expenditure as well as ongoing maintenance. This approach is particularly appealing to small companies that lack the resources to handle complex applications, especially since skilled IT professionals are in short supply. Flexibility, which is often the main selling point, is another advantage, considering that companies such as retailers tend to require massive extra capacity around the festive season, for example. Leasing capacity from Business Connexion is much more economical than creating infrastructure that is only needed during peak periods. It is not only cost-effectiveness and convenience that make ‘over the cloud’ computing attractive, for Business Connexion also has the network capability that keeps systems always on the go and ensures that organisational tools are always up and running, and therefore always accessible to users irrespective of location.
“Going forward, we expect a huge demand for these services because of the growth within small and medium-sized enterprises. This is one of the best ways of getting a business started with minimal capital investment,” Loubser outlines. “We are also seeing large enterprises treating it as a method of service availability. They are putting their services into the cloud because they can’t work from a single location anymore.” In the past, there was some wariness and reluctance by a number of Chief Information Officers (CIOs) to relinquish control by having a third party take over these core services. But that attitude is changing as CIOs experience the services. “Although going over the cloud used to be perceived as a way in which the service provider took control of the infrastructure, with the client still controlling capacity requirements, service levels and billing, thus having more time to control the right things rather than keep the infrastructure running, this perception is fading,” highlights Loubser.
Many companies test the reliability of the service by putting e-mail, messaging and collaboration tools into the cloud. These are all essential, but with no competitive advantage accruing from running them internally. It’s also vital that they are always available, which is one of the strengths of the cloud. Business Connexion also helps organisations such as financial service providers to offer new value-added services to their clients under their own brand, based on technologies developed and run by Business Connexion. This also aggregates offerings developed by other specialists, thus offering clients a broader choice. “Customers don’t want to buy from different places, so we act as a broker by aggregating a lot of systems so they can get them all through us,” says Loubser. This is useful for smaller enterprises, which can get all the software and IT services they need to run their business over the cloud without much capital outlay.
“Another benefit of using Business Connexion’s services is that it offers the ability to develop and deploy applications quickly, scaling for up to 150 000 users within a couple of weeks. A typical in-house IT department could take six months to construct something on that scale.” Loubser says some companies still worry about the security of sharing a network, but he points out that the majority of scams come from within a company, not from an external provider or a hacker. “We can show customers how secure the platforms are and how segregated they are,” he says. Business Connexion runs a Tier IV data centre in Midrand, one of 18 centres in the world to gain accreditation as being robust enough to host mission-critical computer systems.
Business Connexion delivers across the entire value chain:
Develop IT strategies and business strategies
Establish IT governance frameworks
Analyse application needs
Define possible solutions
Conduct feasibility studies of potential solutions
The Beauty of being Over the Cloud
It’s a little unsettling for any business to be totally reliant on another company for all its information technology (IT) needs, especially in today’s environment where security of information is of the utmost importance. Whenever a company decides to outsource its IT services, efficiency, reliability as well as cost-effectiveness become the deciding factors. It is for this reason that a number of companies, both public and private, trust Business Connexion to meet their computing needs ‘over the cloud’.
Business Connexion ensures that clients continuously enjoy an effective and efficient service. We fully understand that every minute counts, at all times;" says Jacques Loubser, General Manager: Cloud Infrastructure Services.
CASE IN POINT | Business Connexion
by Nomia Machebe