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Cloud in a time of crisis

When a global health crisis threatens the viability of business operations, cloud-based solutions can be powerful tools in enabling business continuity, writes KABELO MAKWANE, cloud boss at Vodacom Business

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It’s a scary scenario for any business – being caught without a relevant business continuity plan for an event that seemed previously almost unthinkable. In today’s always-on mobile-centric business, we operate in a world where access to data services is vital to keep businesses moving forward.

In recent times, companies have had to confront the stark realities of a global pandemic and its significant and potentially lasting business impact. Cloud computing offers a lifeline to mitigate the deleterious effects that a pandemic of this magnitude will undoubtedly bring. Without succumbing to panic, it’s a prudent time to confirm or re-evaluate contingency plans and assess business’s risk management and IT infrastructure readiness.

When deploying a cloud solution it is essential to make sure that it is built out in a secure manner, with layers such as multifactor authentication to ensure that you maintain the integrity and security of your environment.

Employees do not require extensive retraining for the shift and to get them up to speed in adopting cloud-based services that will be deployed because they would use the same familiar user interface, albeit the back-end infrastructure platform has moved to the cloud. Businesses just need to ensure that their employees can access data; business applications; and communication and collaboration capabilities like phone, email, calendar, address book, instant messaging, teleconference, and videoconference, to ensure business continuity.

Cloud servers can host mission-critical apps without the requirements for a large administrative and support team which means local resources focus on supporting user enhancement and functionality, which also negates the need for investing in building datacentres to house servers, storage, networking appliance, power backups, cooling and various devices needed to run a data centre. Similarly, voice and video communications — critical tools for maintaining communication outside of the office – but also tools that can put a large strain on resources, can also be consumed natively as cloud services.

For the remote worker, cloud-based solutions mean the convenience of accessing services from anywhere, anytime, from any device. Document sharing and workflows can be pushed out easily and securely to enable dynamic collaboration in work group and to effect business transactions. As long as there’s power and internet access, cloud makes it possible to ensure the continuity of the business, whether from an office hub or in a situation where employees are compelled to remote working.

There are a number of different types of cloud computing services with a wide range of technologies and products to choose from. Businesses using the cloud effectively will benefit by quickly leveraging the ability to create resilient and disaster-tolerant systems protecting data and business application integrity, as well as support an increasingly remote workforce.

The cloud software, platform and infrastructure services are relevant to both large enterprise and SME’s alike. SMEs need to be flexible and as a result could also see great productivity gains from using cloud based productivity tools without the need for specialist skills. Storing files in the cloud enables staff to access files from anywhere, on any appropriately secured device.

Collaboration on projects is considerably easier with cloud solutions that facilitate file sharing from remote locations. When files are stored online, project teams can work together and update documents in real-time. This provides more convenience for employees on the road or those who have chosen to work from home.

Vodacom Business’ cloud-computing services take businesses continuity needs into account and help minimise service interruptions:

  • By offering a wide range of tools located outside the company, such as storage, computing capacity, communication, and collaboration capacity, it speeds up business recovery.
  • Files can be shared and backups done via the internet making them accessible to all employees, whether they’re at the office, on the go, or even at home, from a computer, tablet, or mobile phone.
  • The use of remote data centres makes it possible to be operational again more quickly in the event of a regional or global event.
  • Sharing files and syncing multiple devices enhances the quality of operations and improves user experience.

As companies position themselves to maintain productivity, pushing the corporation into employee homes, and evaluating what to do in general when unanticipated challenges present themselves, it is imperative to rethink disaster recovery plans and explore cloud offerings as mitigation on the effects on business.

Vodacom Business has adopted a practical approach to cloud. Every customer’s journey will differ — a ‘one size fits all’ approach cannot address elements that are unique to each environment, which is why, in collaboration with our industry-leading partners, Vodacom Business engages uniquely in a transformational journey with each customer.

Cloud computing provides solutions SMEs cannot afford to ignore. Technology, especially telecommunications technology and cloud-computing is a viable solution to keep businesses going in these globally challenging times.

* Kabelo Makwane is managing executive for cloud, hosting and security at Vodacom Business 

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