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Some cloud solutions to load shedding

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As load shedding threatens businesses and their livelihood by causing them to turn customers away, TRACEY NEWMAN believes that many can turn to cloud-based services to keep themselves operational when the lights go out.

As the scourge of load shedding once again threatens to cause havoc amongst South African businesses by plunging restaurants into darkness during peak lunch time hours and causing clothing retailers to turn customers away during profitable weekend shopping hours, what measures can local companies take to minimise the impact of blackouts on their business?

According to Tracey Newman, SMB Lead at Microsoft South Africa, the answer, especially for companies that cannot afford to adopt green solutions and expensive UPS’s, may lie in the cloud – that is for businesses to adopt cloud-based services.

Besides leaving a business in the dark, power outages also breaks the line of communication organisations have to customers, partners, and service providers. Here, cloud-based services can keep that line open after Eskom closes the power taps. Unlike PABX lines, solutions like Skype for Business will enable a company to make or answer business calls and have conference calls with clients or video calls with employees in the field during power outages.

Staying productive during outages & out of the office

With cloud storage, there is no longer a need to have expensive UPSs running the company’s server during load shedding times since data is stored online and can be access from anywhere, any time, and using virtually any device. The organisation’s crucial business data remains accessible during power outages, since employees only need a connection to the internet like a 3G dongle plugged into a laptop or even a smartphone acting as a Wi-Fi hotspot for instance.

In fact, cloud has advantages for business with UPS’s as well since the network, computing and storage equipment takes around 40% of the power, while 35% is allocated to cooling the equipment, and only 5% goes to lighting as well as other ancillaries. This means that the cloud can offer significant cost and reliability advantages for businesses relying on UPS power during power outages.

Cloud-based services also make it possible for staff to work from home, where they can utilise soft phone (VoIP) capabilities and presence information to answer calls and attend meetings. Companies that are expanding quickly can utilise these services to instigate a telecommute programme for employees who do not need to be office bound all day to reduce office space costs as well as the impact of power outages. The added benefit of initiatives like these is an improvement in employee retention since workers have the flexibility to work from anywhere.

Providing secure access to the data you need most

A common barrier preventing organisations from moving forward with the migration of their data to the cloud is concerns over security and privacy. At Microsoft South Africa, the protection of user privacy and their personal data is as important as fostering innovation. We understand that our customers will only use technology that they trust and that is why we work hard to strengthen privacy and compliance protections for our customers in the cloud.

“Some of the fruits of our labour in this regard includes the fact that Microsoft has become the first major cloud provider to adopt the world’s first international standard for cloud privacy, namely ISO/IEC 27018. This standard was developed by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) to establish a uniform, international approach to protecting privacy for personal data stored in the cloud,” says Newman.

She added that, “Our adherence to the standard ensures that we only process personally identifiable information according to the instructions that customers provide to us. For enterprise customers, our adherence also reaffirms our commitment not to use enterprise data for advertisement purposes.”

NSBC is always connected thanks to the cloud

For an organisation like the National Small Business Chamber (NSBC) being constantly connected to its data and services, even from remote locations is important. The NSBC needed a solution that could support the growing Bring Your Own Device phenomenon amongst its employees and offer mobility as well as access to email as well as documents from anywhere and consequently migrated to Office 365.

To date the NSBC has enjoyed several benefits as a result of migrating its legacy on premise business tools to Microsoft Office 365 including access to unlimited email storage space, which was a constant internal challenge at the NSBC. In addition, the solution automatically backs up the organisation’s information to a remote location, keeping data safe in the event of break-ins or fires.

The move to the cloud has become imperative to the survival of the SMB, not just because of the resulting isolation from the effects of power outages, but also because it is secure and provides flexibility for employees who are empowered to be productive for their company from wherever they find themselves.

* Follow Gadget on Twitter on @GadgetZA

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SA gets gaming awards

Reed Exhibitions Africa recently announced that the inaugural South Africa Gaming Awards will be hosted at Comic Con Africa 2019.

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The South Africa Gaming Awards is set to become a key feature of Comic Con Africa and has been established to celebrate individuals, teams, developers, streamers, journalists and the like in the gaming industry. Categories and submission details will be announced early in 2019 for the awards which will take place in September.

Carol Weaving, Managing Director of Reed Exhibitions states: “On the back of the roaring success of the inaugural Comic Con Africa earlier this year we came to the realisation that there is no platform of this nature on the African continent where those who are excelling in the gaming industry have an opportunity to be acknowledged. We want to bring peers and like-minded individuals together to celebrate this industry and build this community across the board. To all future entries: Game on!”

Comic Con Africa 2019 will take place from 21 – 24 September 2019, at Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand.

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What tech’s 3 wise men tell us to expect

Advice from three wise men will lead SA into the 4th Industrial Revolution, writes ANDRIES BRINK, CEO of Andile Solutions

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Over the past 50 years, 3 wise men made predictions that have become definitive in our time. Gordon Moore said data processing would double in capacity every 18 to 24 months, Mark Kryder predicted that data storage would expand at about the same rate, and George Gilder said the bandwidth connecting different nodes would double at three times that speed. Like the sages from the biblical story, they saw a massive star rising ahead of them.

Today we stand in the radiance of technology’s sun. My consumer grade phone is more powerful than most corporate data centres at the turn of the century. It has 200,000 times more memory than Voyager 2, which just left our solar system. In lockstep with this progress, today’s data centres produce decentralised processing power at incredibly cheap prices. These have found their way to humanity and are delivering on the promise of a new dispensation. Maybe LOCNVL had a point when they sang in 2010 that they had a sun in their pocket.

Let’s change our focus, for a moment, to Africa, which despite having nearly a billion people still only produces roughly $3.5 trillion in GDP. Apple, Alphabet, Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook have a collective market capitalisation of the same amount, yet do so with 0.08% of the number of people. To say Africa is missing out on the technology sun is an understatement. While everyone can benefit from this change, only a few will be positioned to lead it. It’s a fact quite visible wherever you look.

Andries Brink, CEO, Andile Solutions

Over the centuries, we have learnt that only four composers (Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Tchaikovsky) wrote almost all the music played by modern orchestras. Similarly, just a handful of authors sell all the books (of 1,5 million books published each year, only 500 sell more than a hundred thousand copies), and of the few scientists that actually publish papers that are accepted, only a very small percentage are then actually referenced by their peers. Business majors will note that this phenomenon was captured eloquently by 18th century Italian polymath Vilfredo Pareto and his 80/20 principle.

The question we should ask ourselves is: how can SA be part of the 20%, the mavericks that change the world instead of the 80% who end up as followers? For the answer, we need not look further than Lesetja Kganyago, the governor of our Reserve Bank:

“Lasting wealth… isn’t in a country’s soil but in its citizens’ heads. Countries get rich because people develop specialised skills, and because they find ways to cooperate so they can do things much too complex for any individual to do alone. To handle all this complexity and specialisation, people gather in firms, and firms interact in markets.”

He warned that when a state declares war against market mechanisms and wealth, it kills off investment and scares skilled people away. Natural resources don’t get used effectively, no matter how abundant they are, and the economy doesn’t develop other kinds of industries either.

It’s not hard to back this view: the mess in the DRC, the collapse of Zimbabwe, and the unbelievable accumulation of debt by Zambia reveal how disdain for market principles have hobbled what should be highly productive nations. Neither is it hard to find positive examples: India and Singapore have transformed their economies thanks to very business-friendly environments, and they have reduced poverty as well. The rise of the Asian Tigers had a lot to do with using market mechanisms effectively.

This brings us to the saviour part.

Minister Rob Davies recently declared that “there would be serious winners and losers due to the 4th industrial revolution (4IR).”, sounding vaguely familiar to a disturbing passages from the Holy Bible, a book that we can be certain the Minister did not mean to reference. In Matthew 13:12, Jesus says that:” For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.” (The reader should be aware that economists often refer to the Pareto principle as the Matthew principle in relation to the above)

A significant number of things have been taken away from South Africa during the Zupta era. Yet South Africa still has an incredible opportunity here:

Yes, since 2008 SA has plunged 22 spots from 45th position. Yet we are still in the game and can reverse the trend, particularly if we harness 4IR beyond mentions in speeches. To me the opportunity is obvious. We have the finance system, market size and innovation capability to create a hotbed for 4IR-fueled progress. Looking at my industry, we should find ways to bring the smartest fintechs to South Africa.

Therefore, during this festive season, let us listen to our favourite devices streaming Mozart and Beethoven whilst we study and embrace the wise words of Pareto and other trusted saviours. The governor has confirmed our course. If SA Inc. could open doors for that 0.08 % of innovators and give them a reason to bring their wealth and knowledge here, we can accomplish amazing things as a nation. The three wise men have shown us a great rising star that everyone, even our most Marxist ministers, can see on the horizon. In 2019, let’s hope, and pray, we can converge on the opportunity.

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