Is your business ready for the move to Cloud?

Updated on 15 July 2014

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Cloud computing is the current buzzword in IT, but how much do we know about it? We speak to Chris Willcocks, director of cloud and line of business at SAP Africa, an enterprise software and services supplier.

He 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 the cloud works?
All computing software and hardware are 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 the cloud?
SMEs 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 the cloud?
There is no requirement for 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.

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“Cloud will not define your strategy but the cloud can then be utilised as a key enabler of this business strategy”

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.

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?
We have the network infrastructure in place to enable all organisations to leverage and benefit from cloud solutions. Cloud use in South Africa is maturing and is 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 cloud migration?
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.

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