The three things you need to know about using business cloud services
Large organisations have been reaping the rewards of cloud services for several years already but the specific benefits for small business, especially in the developing economies of Africa, have been harder to prove.
Now, as the marketplace of cloud vendors and service providers matures and market leaders and trusted brands begin to emerge, it becomes easier for CTIs and IT managers of SMEs to make enlightened decisions about improving business operations using the best available solutions.
There are three main benefits SMEs gain by moving to the cloud.
Cloud services bring cost-cutting and capex savings at several levels of the small business. Where the IT department would traditionally have to deploy servers and software licences projecting for business success and growth. Now this increase in IT capacity: both processing power and the handling of many more simultaneous users, can be purchased on demand from the cloud provider. And the capacity required can slide dynamically up and down as business demand fluctuates, with no risk to the business.
Also, the time and technical resources required to deploy equipment and also the recruitment of additional staff to handle the increased processing capacity internally is now offloaded to the cloud service provider. The questionable value of IT departments provisioning and operating non-core assets and other systems goes away when these systems move to the cloud, and business efficiency improves.
Finally, the move to cloud services makes the SME more competitive. As SMEs grow their footprint and enter more markets, deliver new products, or set up shop in other countries, they need to rapidly deploy their standard business applications to users in these new locations. The speed of adding more server capacity and new services, or for replicating company data to the new locations is the strength of cloud services. The agility brought to the small business through cloud services means the SME can deliver their products and services to the market sooner and gain a significant "early mover" advantage over competitors.
MTN Business offers a wide range of SME cloud services across Africa, from data warehousing and backup services to application and database hosting and administration, and all serviced by its enterprise-grade network.
Data warehousing and the migration of large data sets from one location to another is particularly important in Africa.
There are two specific scenarios where MTN provides a unique solution. For SMEs looking to grow their footprint from one African country to another MTN Business offers a continent-wide network of cloud services available across 10 high-growth African countries with more than 15 physical data centres hosted throughout the continent. Opening a branch office in another African country is thus seamless with company data shared across the MTN enterprise-grade network. Another real concern in Africa is data security and here MTN provides a facility to safely move and warehouse data outside of politically unstable areas.
For data backup services MTN Business has partnered with world-leading service provider EMC and backups can be extended from server and database level down to individual desktops, including remote workers using laptops.
MTN Business looks to empower SMEs for growth by offering flexible solutions such as gradually increasing server capacity for a growing customer base or increase in staff count, and hosting of applications through the industry-leading Microsoft Azure cloud service. Also SMEs won't suffer the hassle and cost of hiring administrators for databases and other hosted applications when these can be provided as a part of the cloud service.
Some hosted applications include management of MacAfee security software, where licensing, updates and notifications can all be centrally managed through cloud services, and the Sage One accounting system which is popular amongst SMEs.
Finally, MTN Business is best positioned to offer end-to-end service level agreements for its customers as it carries data from point to point on its enterprise-class network, from customers to data centres around the continent.