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How to move to the cloud in an emerging market

The majority of businesses in emerging markets are still quite hesitant when it comes to moving their organisational processes to the cloud. This is in part due to the perception that a comprehensive move to cloud-based services is a viable option only for those organisations able to pay for high-quality bandwidth, and partly because companies and their IT departments are hesitant to leave the “legacy paradigm” of their current infrastructure.

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The move to the cloud starts with a paradigm shift from complexity and expensive infrastructure to a cloud mentality focusing on the end-user to ensure satisfaction. Businesses interacting in the cloud have the benefit of saving on complex and costly upgrades. SaaS or “software as a service” is a cloud computing service. The hardware, software and support required to host and deliver the application is the sole responsibility of the SaaS provider, not the end user. Some examples of cloud-based applications include Salesforce CRM, Google Apps, Postini and others. Some familiar cloud applications include social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

There are already a number of companies in an emerging market like South Africa taking advantage of the cloud infrastructure. Cell C, one of the leading mobile network operators in South Africa, has deployed Google Apps across its whole organization. According to Cell C spokesperson, Karin Fourie:

“The objective was to promote an easier way of communicating through the intranet, whilst increasing productivity. The capabilities of Google Sites were investigated to see if it could provide us with the tools to build and sustain a new corporate intranet which was previously on Microsoft SharePoint.”

Another South African company utilising cloud-based services is Bateman Engineering whose biggest challenge was the maintenance of data centres for email as that meant the addition of people and expensive infrastructure plus the focus on change control. Bateman, with the help of a third party, managed to unify their communications and messaging and find a seamless solution including the implementation of Google Apps and Google Message Discovery. This resulted in Bateman saving costs, achieving easier compliance, greater scalability, and the reduction of complexity and operational downtime.

Barak Regev, Head of Google Enterprise Emerging Markets comments:

“More and more leading businesses are waking up to the wider benefits of cloud computing, realizing how the right technology can support business transformation, innovation and new working culture. Going forward, most innovation will happen on the web, and businesses such as Bateman understand this shift and will be best positioned to grow and succeed. Beyond the obvious cost savings, they will see improved productivity, better collaboration that will fuel creativity and greater employee satisfaction.”

Ultimately, the choice between on-premise or cloud solutions doesn’t have to be a difficult case of ‘either/or’. There is a middle ground where companies can start their journey and enjoy benefits of the cloud by utilising a hybrid solution of on-premise and cloud applications without the immediate need to shift completely to the cloud.

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