Posts Tagged ‘Computing’

Cloud Computing set for massive growth in SA & Kenya

September 12th, 2014

Rapidly expanding bandwidth capacities, following the landing of undersea cables, have led to the proliferation of data centres and established a solid platform for the development of cloud computing services in South Africa and Kenya. Enterprises are steadily embracing outsourcing and managed services for various business and technological benefits, further driving migration to cloud computing.outsourcing42

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, Overall Cloud Computing Market in South Africa and Kenya, finds that the market earned revenues of $114.6 million in 2013 and estimates this to reach $288.0 million in 2018. Software as a Service will become the most popular cloud computing platform.

Despite widespread awareness and the fact that cloud has been around for a couple of years in Kenya and South Africa, enterprises have understood and embraced cloud computing to varying degrees. By and large, actual adoption of these services continues to be dependent on sector, and more pertinently, on enterprise size.

“While private cloud services have been the main focus of tier I competitors in the large enterprise sector, the move towards public cloud is slowly gathering pace in both countries,” said Frost & Sullivan Information and Communication Technologies Research Analyst Lehlohonolo Mokenela. “Small and medium enterprises, in particular, are turning to cloud computing motivated by the availability of affordable and convenient public cloud offerings.”

However, security concerns and the lack of trust in third parties to manage internal IT systems are dissuading some enterprises and governments from employing data centre services. This outlook is especially prevalent in conservative verticals, such as the financial services and healthcare sectors, where security and compliance are critical to business operations. Nevertheless, insurance companies and banks are beginning to move their less critical applications to the cloud to reduce costs.

“Non-core applications, such as email and customer relationship management, will be the most commonly migrated solutions as organisations look to test the reliability of cloud services,” noted Mokenela. “It will be crucial for service providers to demonstrate the security of their solutions in order to allay consumer concerns and boost uptake in the South African and Kenyan cloud computing domain.”


The benefits of cloud computing for small businesses

February 3rd, 2014

If you are running a small to medium sized business, you will have probably heard of cloud computing.

Cloud computing means moving or extending your business IT systems over the internet, in order to increase the current capabilities, and improve efficiency.

More than just a passing trend, cloud computing has a large number of benefits if you want to manage your IT processes more smoothly, reduce your costs, and safeguard your business against unforeseen disasters.


Here are some of the advantages of using cloud computing technologies:

Time saving

Cloud computing is a time efficient way for small businesses to manage IT. With cloud technologies, you can keep track of what is happening with your business from anywhere, at any time. You can hold virtual meetings, and manage remote employees. Small businesses are increasingly turning to outsourcing to expand their business operations, and keep their costs down.

Cloud computing allows outsourced and remote employees to share files, collaborate on projects and maintain close contact, which can improve team efficiency and help team members work together more effectively. This means more time to spend working on your core business activities, and less time spent managing logistics and dealing with staff IT issues.

Cost effective

With cloud computing, businesses can save on the costs of purchasing (little capital outlay) and maintaining servers, having dedicated IT staff on the payroll, and upgrading software. It’s also a way of accessing the most up-to-date software and applications, programs that you might put off installing due to the cost. The other major benefit of cloud computing is that it is scalable.

If you need additional resources to cope with a busy period or sudden growth, these are available and can be accessed as required without the need to upgrade your entire system in order to cope with the additionalworkload. Accessing cloud services simply requires a stable internet connection, and a monthly subscription.

Speed and convenience

Because working in the cloud means accessing applications via a web browser, it’s easy and fast to set up. There’s also generally no need for detailed training for your employees.

Data storage

One of the most advantageous aspects of cloud computing is its capacity for large amounts of offsite data storage and file backups. Work can be instantly backed up to offsite servers, which means that if there is a technical failure or other problem at your business premises, valuable data is still accessible. Using the cloud can also mean having a greater level of security for your data, depending on your current security system.

Cloud computing has many benefits for all businesses, but it can be particularly beneficial for small and medium sized businesses. Using the cloud can save you time and money, and give you the advantages of increased data security and the ability to scale your IT services up and down depending on your current circumstances.


Is cloud computing almost too good to be true for banks?

January 7th, 2014

Banks are built on massive IT infrastructures that process huge volumes of data on a daily basis. The cloud’s most obvious benefits will enable banks to keep up with technology changes while reducing costs.outsourcing26

The digitisation of services is making it difficult for banks to ignore the cloud.

But concerns over a potential loss of control, availability and data security make moving to the cloud a massive leap in a heavily regulated sector.

At a recent meeting at the Financial Services Club (FS Club), Chris Skinner, chairman at the club, said the cloud is still misunderstood, despite it being a talking point in financial services for years. In 2009 the FS Club hosted a meeting about the cloud in financial services and 165 people attended.

“Cloud computing in financial services has been a hot topic for some time and you would think we would know what cloud is all about but we don’t,” said Skinner. “We still have a lot of misunderstandings and ambiguities.”

Legal aspects
Paul Hinton, commercial technology partner at Kemp Little, talked about the cloud in the legal sense.

He said the cloud is diverse and constantly evolving. No sooner do legal terms get to grips with one aspect and they must move on to the latest cloud trend. “SaaS is so commonplace we now understand how to do it and what it should look like from a legal perspective. But the cloud is much more than this.”

Utility computing is the next phase for the cloud with services being bought in a similar way to electricity, according to Hinton. “But banking and the things we buy through banking, from what I understand, are nowhere near that stage yet.”

There are lots of different pieces of legislation that can apply to the cloud, but there is nothing specifically about the cloud, said Hinton. “From a legal point of view the same rules apply to cloud outsourcing as outsourcing.”

He said there are common concerns among businesses. “These are potential loss of control, availability and access to data, data security, data location, auditing and exits.”

“There are a lot of efforts to create [legal] standards and hopefully we will have them soon. This is good but they are not here now and may not be for a while,” added Hinton.

A spokesperson at a major cloud service provider then talked about what it is doing in financial services.

He said there is a lot of ambiguity around the cloud but summed up what it meant to his company.

There is no reason why today banks should not be using the cloud in some way
“A cloud service should be something available over the internet, no up-front costs, pay as you go and with no long-term commitment.”

There is no reason why today banks should not be using the cloud in some way, he said.

“I do not see a huge difference in how financial services companies adopt the cloud they just have a different approach.”

He said when it comes to highly regulated services with customer data it takes a long time to move to the cloud. But he said there are many areas finance firms can start using the cloud easily.

“We look for the low-hanging fruit, not the most sensitive data. Finance firms can start to benefit from features, such as development and testing, because they don’t host sensitive data.”

“High-performance computing is another option because it normally involves systems that encrypt data. This means results can be delivered quicker,” said the spokesperson.

He added that developing new services can be done in the cloud faster and more cost effectively because the cost of failure of a new service is reduced. “With new lines of business you can test it out and if it doesn’t work you turn it off and there are no assets costing money.”

He said that the suppliers can become compliant with regulations so every company using it is also compliant, when using it.

The next speaker was from a large payments processing firm. He said maintaining trust and delivery to customers is vital.

He said customers expect their money when and where they chose.

“If you are running retail financial services you have to put the customer first. The customers get the cloud and they have certain expectations for service delivery,” he said.

He agreed that the cloud enables effective development alongside cost cutting.

“The cloud is a huge layer of facilitation for new services. Banks also need to manage costs more effectively, the cloud is faster to implement and cheaper so what is there to hate about it?” said the spokesperson.

The next speaker was from a small next-generation cloud-only financial services firm.

The company is a totally cloud-based financial service. It has taken a small piece of the banking chain, in this case international payments, and put the entire process on a cloud platform to offer to banks.

The cloud is just another form of outsourcing
New customers, which are financial services firms, only take two weeks to set up.

“We take a huge amount of cost out of the process,” said the spokesperson.

The company makes 10,000 transactions per day. “Using the cloud is no different from outsourcing. Offshore companies in India have customer data and there is uncertainty about security.”

He said there is still a “not invented here” attitude holding cloud uptake back. “Technology departments at banks want to build their own systems. It is not a rational debate but an emotional one. Some of these IT departments do not even use Agile methods and still use Waterfall techniques.”

He said you have to get these people to accept change and not fear the worst.

Former Accenture executive, Jim Odell, now a consultant at Kemp Little, then talked about hybrid IT departments and how organisations have to have a mix of in-house and outsourced IT.

“The cloud is just another form of outsourcing,” he said.

His advice to finance firms considering the cloud was: never outsource things that are not already fixed, make sure you know how to manage suppliers, don’t put everything in the cloud it can be expensive, and plan to leave when you sign a now contract.


Cloud computing business models ‘will need to alter’

October 10th, 2010

The shift towards outsourced cloud services and changing customer expectations will require providers to radically modify their current outsourcing business models.

So says analyst firm IDC, which issued a report suggesting demand for access to new delivery models, such as the cloud and software-as-a-service, has become increasingly important for businesses.

With this trend, customers will expect higher levels of performance from providers and thus the relationship between the two sides will shift, IDC said.

In particular, “traditional” providers such as IBM, HP and Capgemini will need to drastically change their current outsourcing business models.

To be a successful provider in the outsourced cloud services market, competing companies will need to create “robust road maps” looking at how customers are planning to deploy services.

“Perhaps the greatest lesson of the Great Recession is the need for companies to be much more adaptable to changes in the market,” said David Tapper, vice president for outsourcing and offshore services market research at IDC.

“This fundamental need is a major force driving considerable shifts in the outsourcing industry – shifts that not only involve provisioning more targeted and innovative solutions – but also involve the transformation of the outsourcing industry from a labour-centric model of service delivery to more asset-based services involving cloud-based outsourcing.”

Talking about where businesses will head to for their cloud computing needs, Gartner analyst Rene Millman suggested many will initially look to the providers they have used for other IT services in the past.

“Many organisations will stay within their own levels of comfort,” he told IT PRO. “They’ll probably try to get cloud services from the people they have been to before.”

“If you’re happy with the relationship with your current suppliers it is probably going to make more sense to stick with them. But if [their services] are not fit for purpose, you’ll have to look further afield.”

Traditional software vendors working in the sphere would also need to stay relevant by developing apps for use across both the public and private cloud, Millman added.


Cloud computing adoption among SMBs following outsourcing trends: survey

October 5th, 2010

Adoption varying by size of the business

Adoption of cloud computing services among SMBs is varying by size of the business and is following previously observed pattern related to adoption of outsourcing trends, a new survey by Techaisle revealed.

The survey found that the adoption of cloud services rises and falls as businesses first use these services and then as they grow they attempt to bring solutions in-house and use cloud services again in order to support growth.

The survey also found small businesses with 20-99 employees typically expand their use of cloud services and appear to maintain that level of usage until they hit 250 employees.

At this level, SMBs begin to bring services back in-house as IT investments rise and adoption of Cloud services rises sharply again as SMBs exceed 500 employees.

The report said that SMBs when looked at as a single group, are adopting some core infrastructure applications and applications specific to their industry.


Techaisle survey finds cloud computing adoption among SMBs is following outsourcing trends

October 5th, 2010

Techaisle’s recently completed comprehensive survey of SMBs shows that while use of Cloud services varies by size of business, the pattern of adoption appears to follow a previously observed pattern related to adoption of outsourcing. In both cases, rather than seeing greater adoption with business size, adoption rises and falls as businesses first use Cloud services then as they grow they attempt to bring solutions in-house and use Cloud services again in order to support growth.

The survey also found that the inflection point for adoption occurs at 20 employees. Small businesses with 20-99 employees typically expand their use of Cloud services and appear to maintain that level of usage until they hit 250 employees. At this level, SMBs begin to bring services back in-house as IT investments rise. Adoption of Cloud services rises sharply again as SMBs exceed 500 employees.

When looked at as a single group, SMBs are largely adopting some core infrastructure applications and applications specific to their industry. Security and additional storage appear to be the most popular applications along with industry specific applications and hosted email. The picture is substantially different for MBs (100-999 employees) and SBs (1-99 employees) taken separately. Mid-market businesses display a greater willingness to adopt hosted infrastructure and platform solutions than small businesses. Very small businesses’ (<10 employees) use of Cloud services is characterized largely by Industry specific applications and Cloud storage services.

The US SMB Cloud Computing report is now available for purchase. Surveys were also conducted in the UK and Germany


Demise of enterprise IT departments A pending crisis point

September 25th, 2010

In ZapThink’s deep conversations with CIOs and other IT decision makers, we find that there’s broad agreement on the multitude of forces conspiring to change every aspect of the way the enterprise does IT.

Yet at the same time, everybody’s in denial that these changes will happen to them. For us as outsiders, it certainly looks like many enterprise IT decision-makers acknowledge that the world is changing — but deny that they are part of that same world.

Of course, such executives simply have their head in the sand. If change is to occur, it will happen to the vast majority of enterprises, not just the minority.

This realization drives the Crisis Points of the ZapThink 2020 vision. However, ZapThink is not advocating that organizations should adopt any of the crisis points. Rather we are observing that these crises are coming, whether or not companies are ready for them.

In particular, we believe that companies will reach a crisis point as they seek to outsource IT. However, we aren’t advocating that companies outsource all their IT efforts. Rather, we are observing that siren call of offloading IT assets in the form of cloud computing and outsourcing is a significant trend that is leading to a crisis point.

And without a strong rudder, many companies will indeed be dashed on the rocks. This ZapFlash blog post provides greater detail on this particular crisis point: The pending demise of the enterprise IT department, or what we’ve called in previous ZapFlashes the Collapse of Enterprise IT.

Outsourcing and cloud computing:
Different parts of same story

Part of the reason for the visceral response to our Crisis Points ZapFlash is that there’s inherent fear when talking about outsourcing IT functions. Part of the fear comes from the fact that many people confuse outsourcing with offshoring.

Outsourcing is the purchasing of a service from an outside vendor to replace the performance of the task within the organization’s internal operations. Offshoring, on the other hand, is the movement of labor from a region of high cost (such as the United States) to one of comparatively lower cost (such as India).

People fear the latter because it means subcontracting existing work to other people, thus displacing jobs at home. However, the former has been going on for hundreds of years. Indeed, many companies exist solely because they are completing tasks that their customers would rather not undertake themselves.

Almost six years ago, we talked about how service oriented architecture (SOA) and outsourcing go hand in hand, for the simple reason that SOA requires organizations to think about their resources, processes, and capabilities in ways that are loosely coupled from the specifics of their implementation, location, and consumption. Indeed, the more companies implement SOA, the more they can outsource processes that are not strategic or competitive for the organization.

But it’s a mistake to assume the collapse of the enterprise IT department is due entirely to outsourcing the functions of IT to third parties.
Furthermore, the more companies outsource their functions, the more they are motivated to implement SOA to facilitate the consumption of the outsourced capabilities. So, therefore it should be no surprise that the combination of SOA and a challenging economic environment has motivated many companies to see outsourcing as a legitimate strategy for their IT organizations, regardless of whether they move to offshoring.

But it’s a mistake to assume the collapse of the enterprise IT department is due entirely to outsourcing the functions of IT to third parties. Outsourcing is a part of the story, but so is cloud computing. In much the same way that third-party firms can offload parts of IT in the outsourcing model, cloud computing offers the ability to offload other aspects of the IT department. Cloud computing provides both technological and economic benefits for distributing and offloading resources, functions, processes, and even data onto location-independent infrastructures.

While many enterprises are currently pursuing a private model for cloud computing, there are far too many economic benefits of the public model to ignore. Most likely, we will see hybrid cloud approaches, where organizations keep certain mission-critical features behind the firewall on the corporate premises while they shift the rest are to lower cost, more agile, and less costly third-party locations. The net result of this shift is continued erosion of the scope of responsibility for internal IT organizations.

The holistic perspective of the five supertrends

The demise of enterprise IT crisis point emerges from the fact that companies will rush into this vision of outsourced IT without thinking through first the dramatic impact that this transition will have throughout their organization.

For such organizations, the value of our ZapThink 2020 vision is that it pulls together multiple trends and delineates the interrelationships among them. One of the most closely related trends to the demise of the IT organization is the increased formality and dependence on governance, as organizations pull together the business side of governance (GRC, or governance, risk, and compliance), with the technology side of governance (IT governance, and to an increasing extent, SOA governance). Over time, CIOs become CGOs (Chief Governance Officers), as their focus shifts away from technology.

As the enterprise owns fewer and fewer of the organization’s IT assets, the role and responsibility of enterprise IT practitioners will be less about the mechanics of getting systems to work, integrating them with each other, and operating them, and more about the management of the one resource that remains constant: information. After all, IT is information technology, not computer or systems technology.

If you can successfully tackle these questions with a coherent, holistic strategy, then you have defused the risk inherent to movement to outsourcing and/or cloud computing.
With this perspective, it’s essential to view the shift to outsourcing and cloud computing holistically with all the other changes happening in the enterprise IT environment.

For example, the move to democratization of technology means that non-IT practitioners will be utilizing and creating IT capabilities and assets without the control of the IT organization. How will IT practitioners manage the sole enterprise IT asset (information) given that they cannot manage the systems in which that asset flows? As organizations realize the global cubicle vision of IT, how will enterprise IT practitioners and architects enable distributed information without losing GRC visibility?

As systems become increasingly interconnected with deep interoperability despite their increasing distributed nature, how can enterprise IT practitioners make sure the systems as a whole continue to provide value and avoid chaotic disruptions despite the fact that the organization doesn’t own or operate them? As organizations move to more iterative, agile forms of complex systems engineering where new capabilities emerge from compositions of existing ones, how will movements to cloud computing and outsourcing help or hurt those efforts?

If you can successfully tackle these questions with a coherent, holistic strategy, then you have defused the risk inherent to movement to outsourcing and/or cloud computing. On the other hand, if you rush into cloud computing and outsourcing strategies without thinking through all the issues we’ve discussed in this ZapFlash, you’ll be sunk before you know it.

The ZapThink take

Just like the Sirens calling to Odysseus in Homer’s Odyssey, the call of outsourcing and cloud computing will lead many enterprise IT ships to wreck on the rocks unless they can lash themselves to the masts of a holistic perspective of where the industry as a whole is heading. More importantly, the broad shifts in the industry that ZapThink’s 2020 vision of enterprise IT illuminates compels companies to think more broadly about their constant enterprise IT asset: information.

If it no longer matters where your IT is physically located and whether or not you actually own or operate the IT systems you depend on, then what IT department do you really need and what are they really doing? The answer: less hands-on technology and more governance, a sea change that represents the demise of the enterprise IT organization. Whether or not this transition develops into a full-blown crisis is entirely up to you.


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