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By Matthew Hall, Product Director at Rectron South Africa
In today's ever-changing business climate, small business owners must get what they need right when they need it, whether they're on their computers, tablets, or mobile phones – or in the office, out in the field, or on the road.
With the advent of broadband internet, cloud computing has allowed for many of today's business needs to be handled more efficiently through an off-site server rather than in-house equipment. Cloud computing allows users to access data wherever they have an internet connection.
The pandemic has shifted many small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to a remote work business model with a large focus on digital transformation to enable business agility and continuity. This is changing what an organisation’s network looks like, with greater adoption of cloud services providing greater network flexibility, visibility and ability.
No digital transformation is complete without the support of data centres, which have evolved to support the demands of today’s computing requirements. Their wide range of services are no longer only a reserve of the largest companies but are now easily accessible by all businesses, including SMEs. As the digital age evolves, IT infrastructure and data centres will have to adapt to new demands.
- Security remains key
From accidental deletions to malicious attempts by outsiders to steal information or hold data for ransom, there is no shortage of cyber security threats to businesses. In a recent study by Accenture, there’s been a 31% increase in attacks on businesses in the past year compared to 2020. For SMEs, ensuring the safety of their data when it's stored in the cloud can be a chief concern.
This is why the traditional on-premise data centre is far from obsolete. For many organisations, data centres will continue to exist on-premises in some form. Organisations that choose on-premise applications often feel that keeping everything onsite provides more control and security. On-premises data centres are predictable and controlled infrastructure to house high-risk assets, such as personal information, medical records and financial data.
However, by choosing the on-premise route, the responsibility lies with the organisation for ensuring their system is secure. They will need several security tools and processes, which may result in higher input costs and CAPEX.
- Providing scalability and resiliency
In a typical on-premise ecosystem, SMEs need to build a new system from the ground up as their business grows. Each time they need more storage, new hardware or servers may be required. IT resources need to ensure that the system is configured correctly, often leading to a costly and time-consuming process.
In contrast, cloud providers can typically make cloud computing services for SMEs available at the touch of a button – from collaboration and productivity applications. The vast array of available cloud services also means that organisations can secure the offering they need, from Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Computing-as-a-Service (CaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). The major advantage is in reduced lead times, resulting in lower costs on projects, which can be a major attraction for budget-constrained SMEs.
Another attractive proposition for cloud computing is the downtime and recovery options available today. For SMEs, time is money and every second their system may be down can result in lost opportunities for their business. Cloud providers for SMEs know that being able to offer business continuity is a competitive factor.
- A hybrid approach remains key
To compete in today’s marketplace, all organisations need to leverage cloud applications to a greater or lesser extent. What’s needed is a hybrid approach, a mixture of on-premise and public cloud computing, which incorporates and balances the benefits of both cloud computing and existing on-premise data centres.
The move to hybrid work is based on the continued uptake of cloud technology. This is set to continue this year, with companies migrating their data to the cloud – and even in multi-cloud environments, in some instances. Cloud environments typically come with everything-as-a-service, freeing up companies to focus on their core business.
Within a hybrid cloud strategy, both public cloud and on-premise elements work in tandem to support the entire range of business needs, bringing about the primary advantage of agility. A hybrid data centre architecture allows SMEs to extend data centres into cloud services. This evolution of the data centre enables flexible scaling for network, storage and compute demand surges.