Cloud to transform SMEs – Nashua Mobile

 ·5 Apr 2012
Tim Walter

Cloud computing will transform the way that small SA businesses consume ICT services within the next two years, said Tim Walter, executive head of marketing at Nashua Mobile.

Walter said the high price and erratic quality of bandwidth in SA are the two of the major factors that have held back cloud computing. But, with the arrival of innovative and affordable data products such as uncapped ADSL products aimed at SMEs, this outlook is already changing.

Nashua Mobile is working to offer a range of hosted products in the second half of 2012, Walter said.

A new global survey, conducted by financial services group KPMG, has found that 65% of consumers already store some level of personal information on a remote server accessible through the internet, or ‘in the cloud’. The survey questioned 9,600 people across 31 countries, including South Africa.

Walter noted that many small businesses are already using some cloud services, such as hosted email; hosted mobile messaging services, such as the BlackBerry service; and cloud storage solutions, like Dropbox – without being aware of it.

According to KPMG, cloud technology has already embedded itself into the popular psyche with almost 13% of 16-24 year old survey respondents saying that they were not aware of ‘web-based services’, versus just 5% of those over 65 years of age.

“This indicates that, while the younger generation use cloud technology on a regular basis, they do not see it as being a unique service offering, but rather an embedded part of the internet infrastructure itself,” the group said.

Interestingly, a third of respondents felt that they had no need for cloud services, apparently content with storing their data and information on local storage devices.

However, Walter believes that in the next phase of the market’s development, SMEs will start moving large and more complex applications to the cloud, as they seek ways to improve efficiency and save money.

Examples may include line-of-business applications and hosted PBX solutions.

“Cloud computing is irresistible for a small business because it turns something that used to be capital expenditure into a running cost, freeing up precious cash for other uses. It can also help them to reduce the amount of money they spend on IT support from internal staff or external service providers,” he said.

Because the applications are hosted on a service provider’s infrastructure, the SME may not need to buy and run its own servers anymore. What’s more, it will be freed of the headache of keeping applications patched and up to date, Nashua Mobile said.

“In many cases, a cloud-based service will be more secure and feature-rich than a system a SME could build itself,” Walter said. The reason for this is that the costs of the infrastructure are shared across the customer base, meaning that the service provider can afford software and hardware out of the average SME’s price range.

“With mainstream software vendors like Microsoft aggressively pushing the cloud, it will be the computing model of the future,” he added.

According to market researcher, IDC, 63% of South African organisations are already investing in some form of cloud technology or plan to do so in the near future.

Nashua Mobile is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the JSE-listed Reunert (RLO).

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