This month we delve into what is currently one of the most talked about but least understood concepts in the technology world: cloud computing. There are numerous definitions of this concept but, basically, cloud computing refers very broadly to a computer service offered by a ‘cloud provider’ over the internet.
Let’s refine the definition with a few examples of cloud services:
1. Email services like Gmail, Hotmail, Hush mail.
2. Communication Platforms such as Skype.
3. Vehicle tracking services such as Track-IT, EazyTrack.
4. Online backup services: like our data bank at Frampol.
In some instances, cloud based services are free, like the email services mentioned above. Others are paid services, most often on a subscription basis.
Zimbabwe is in the position to adopt cloud based technologies by leap frogging transitional technologies. By doing so we can enjoy the benefits of cloud computing technologies now.
In the following real-life case study I’ll show you how our cloud computing solutions are being used by a Harare based distribution company. This company has a number of branches located across the country. At each branch there are users who need real-time access to the company’s accounting platform. By using Frampol’s data centre to host it, over ten users can use the accounting platform at the same time.
The solution has provided the following benefits for the distribution company:
1. Secure location for their server and data.
2. Hourly backups of their important data.
3. Server uptime 24 hrs a day/ seven days a week/ 365 days a year.
4. Multiple connections to the internet.
5. Technical team of engineers maintaining and supporting the server.
6. 5 stage backup power.
7. 5 levels of security access.
8. The latest server hardware and software.
9. Antivirus protection.
10. 24/7 server monitoring.
11. Fire monitoring and Fire suppression.
If the distribution company was to setup the above infrastructure themselves, the costs would have been prohibitive. The company would be forced to settle for an inadequate solution that is unlikely to meet their business requirements.
Obvious cost benefits are enjoyed by the company as software upgrades are only performed on the server. No need to travel to each far flung branches to upgrade computer software. This means that the company can now focus on its core business and can use cloud computing to reduce the overheads of maintaining systems which are not core to its day-to-day business objectives.
Users of the system can access their business platform from any internet connection in the world. They are not restricted to accessing their system only when they are in the office. Our client can work with their in-house staff, accountant, and branch users as if they were all sitting together. Transaction updates are available to all users the instant they post – no refresh needed. That means everyone has access to the latest, most up-to-date information. No need to copy, distribute and re-merge multiple company files and no worries about using old data.
Ask yourself, why spend thousands on server hardware and software that needs to be configured, updated and eventually replaced? Or on IT services without end? With hosted servers/cloud computing solutions companies pay on a monthly basis. That’s it. There are no up-front hardware expenses, no IT costs, no long-term commitment.
Cloud computing is on the rise and more and more organisations are making moves to outsource their business platforms in an effort to reduce operating costs and increase operating efficiencies.
The benefits of cloud computing are far reaching. Learn more by googling: cloud computing, benefits of cloud computing or define cloud computing.
Neil Padmore is the director of Frampol IT. He lives and works in Harare and is passionate about communication, technology and community.