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South Africa: SMEs can benefit from Cloud Services
Source: Posted by IT-Online
Source Date: Friday, October 31, 2014
Focus: Electronic and Mobile Government
Country: South Africa
Created: Oct 31, 2014

By hosting a cloud server with an ISP, SMMEs can dramatically reduce the expense of expensive captital hardware items and the associated software, he says. “On top of the expense and risk of hosting your server on site, it is often a data compliance audit requirement to back data up with a third party such as an information and records management partner. Alternatively, using cloud computing services, the ISP can host a secure cloud server for the business at as little as R360 per month and the responsibility of maintaining these servers fall on the ISP itself.”

When using cloud servers, the data is stored in secure server farms, which are usually supported by trusted brands such as Microsoft and Apple, minimising the risk for business owners, explains Wesselink. “The server farms are also supported by load balancers and fire walls as well as a snapshot-backup system, which means the state of a system at a particular point in time is continuously duplicated and stored. The only security responsibility that falls on the business owner is the implementation and maintenance of strong alpha-numeric passwords and running of regular updates on anti-virus software.”

Hesays it is good housekeeping for companies to update passwords regularly to minimise the chances of a data hack, though most cloud servers are fairly robust – running on unix operating systems- and are thus less susceptible to intrusion. “It is only machines that have holes in the code (exploits) and that do not run the latest security that can be taken over by hackers for criminal activity such as spam or data capturing, though the regular use of the snapshot-backup system render the loss of data virtually impossible.”

While cloud technology can be used for several functions, such as real time hourly tracking of projects – which supports the billing and accounting function – it is mostly used for the backup and distribution of information. “When editing a document on the cloud, the document is instantly updated for all users involved; meaning several team members in different locations can access and edit documents instantly.”

Wesselink points out that a stable and uninterrupted internet connection is a key aspect to ensure business continuity when relying on cloud technology. “Businesses that rely on an ADSL connection must ensure a level of redundancy exists, for example a back-up router, to maintain ceaseless access to data. However, it is important to be aware that neither the ADSL infrastructure provider (such as Telkom), nor the ISP will enter into a service level agreement that ensures uninterrupted connectivity partly because of the co-dependant relationship between the infrastructure provider and the ISP.

“Another benefit of cloud computing is the option to use cloud systems as a developmental portal, users are able to test system architecture before committing fully and if need be, users can revert back to previous snapshots which minimises risk and saves time.”


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