The ideal road to competitiveness

Although internet or cloud services offer all types and sizes of organisations the means to increase the advantage they get from technology, while simultaneously reducing the amount of technology they own, it gives small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) the additional edge of accessing technology they could not otherwise afford.

This is according to Michel Isnard, vice-president for Southern Europe, Middle East and Africa at Red Hat. With traditional software, companies are often restricted by user licenses and require patches and upgrades to perform optimally. This model requires upfront and on-going payments and has not always suited SMMEs that need to use their resources elsewhere.

“Cloud computing has changed the way business buys software because they only pay for what they use. Capex is limited to the technology needed to connect securely to the cloud. And, they require little in the way of in-house IT resources. 

"With the cloud, SMMEs can go immediately from an almost zero technology base to being able to access world class functionality for every aspect of their business — whether that’s as comprehensive as enterprise resource planning, business analytics, and customer relationship management or narrowly focused solutions such as payroll and procurement. By contrast, large organisations have to work around or adapt their own existing, usually substantial IT infrastructure.

"So they achieve the benefits of the cloud incrementally, by first moving to the cloud the parts of their business that would most benefit and gradually assessing the need for extending their use of the cloud to the rest of the organisation.

“Large organisations get from the cloud the same benefits of near-limitless scalability, improved speed to market, increased agility, reduced costs and reduced operating risks that SMMEs do, but not across the full spectrum of their operations and not as quickly,” says Isnard.

“For SMMEs, the cloud immediately puts them into a different league. To their clients, they look like a big business.”

Isnard points out, however, that not all cloud services are equal and that every business, large or small, must do some planning before making decisions. “A key consideration for most SMMEs looking to move to cloud is the cost, reliability and speed of these technologies” says Isnard.

The data and applications are hosted remotely so there is no longer the on-going cost and burden of hardware and software acquisition and maintenance. SMMEs have a choice between private or public cloud services depending on how accessible they want their data to be. However these models also introduce concerns around complexity, interoperability and security.

The adage, every cloud has a silver lining does ring true here as the “hybrid cloud” is emerging as a way to mitigate those concerns by providing the right internal controls and to meet business demands. The cloud is emerging as the panacea for SMMEs’ technology headache. It enables them to focus on business without the hassle of worrying about the supporting technology.

“It’s also important to remember that the cloud works best when it combines the best of people, process and technology. Which is why it is important to have a consultant help you,” Isnard concludes.

This article has been made possible by the Mail & Guardian’s advertisers. Contents and pictures were sourced independently by the M&G’s supplements editorial team.

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