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Power pushes SMEs off-site



Rising electricity costs and the irregular power supply are two key factors that are driving SMEs to move their servers out of their premises into dedicated, shared data centres, writes DEBBIE PRETORIUS.

MWEB Business has experienced a rise in enquiries for its server hosting services following the recent Eskom power supply scare which resulted in a short reintroduction of load shedding across the country.

Server hosting, has become increasingly affordable over the years. Connectivity prices have been on a downward trajectory for some years and now hosting costs are starting to come down too. As a result, more and more businesses are coming to realise that multi-tenant data centres could provide a better and more cost effective option than hosting their servers themselves.

The cost and reliability of the electricity supply is a major concern for businesses of all sizes, and particularly for SMEs as yet another above-inflation hike in electricity prices is scheduled for later this year.

Between 2008 and 2013, South Africa’s electricity prices increased by more than 170 percent. In March last year, the National Electricity Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) granted Eskom an 8 percent per annum tariff increase for the next five years. This next increase is due to take effect on 1 July – but Eskom has meanwhile asked Nersa for more.

Even if Eskom only gets the 8 percent agreed by Nersa, by the time municipalities have added their levies and charges, we can expect to be paying even more for electricity. Businesses are looking at this and concluding that the cost of keeping their servers running in a temperature controlled environment is just too high – particularly when the cost of keeping generators and UPS’s on standby to deal with power outages and surges is taken into consideration.

In addition, the cost of keeping the business’ servers – the heart of any organisation – safe is also rising but businesses cannot risk skimping on these expenses.

It can take years for businesses to recover from the loss of their servers, regardless of the cause of that loss: physical theft, sabotage, fire, flood or a cyber-borne virus.

But by having their servers hosted in a data centre, all these concerns are taken care of. For a fixed monthly fee, the business knows that its servers are housed in a safe, environmentally controlled environment, with a secure power supply. Other services, such as state-of-the-art firewalls and round the clock maintenance could also be included.

* Debbie Pretorius, GM at MWEB Business.

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