SMEs in the hosted cloud
Gareth Smith, Solutions Architect at Sizwe Africa IT Group.
The hosted cloud isn’t just for big businesses – small businesses and even individuals all need certain cloud services. Services like web hosting, email hosting, backup services, and the like are always too expensive for small operations when purchased as business services. What is needed is a lower cost solution specifically for this market, says Gareth Smith, Solutions Architect at Sizwe Africa IT Group.
Why a solution specifically adapted to SMEs? Well, small operations have different requirements than a business’s requirements, Smith explains. For example, enterprise solutions always come with higher overhead costs due to solution versions, expensive enterprise hardware underneath, and the expertise to support them. With smaller cloud offerings, overhead and end-user costs are lower, and support teams are bigger and more streamlined to support the pint-sized guy.
He adds that the advent of COVID-19 has accelerated the drive to tailor offers specifically for small businesses and working from home. “We are seeing an increased demand for flexibility and monthly contracts, where previously annual contracts were standard. Today’s businesses don’t know what’s going to happen in the next 12 months and find it difficult to plan this far ahead. “
The pandemic has had and will continue for the foreseeable future to impact the functioning of individuals and businesses. The majority of small businesses benefit from a work-from-home (WFH) strategy and the hosted cloud gives these small businesses the option of monthly services without long-term contracts. This gives the SME the autonomy to choose the services it needs right now – and to expand and contract as needed.
Smith goes on to list the types of cloud-hosted services that SMBs can benefit from, explaining that cloud hosting is categorized into several aspects:
- Web hosting
- Email hosting
- Backup as a service
- Server hosting
- SSL certificate services
- Cybersecurity Antivirus
- 24/7 ticketing system
- Low-cost, enterprise-class server infrastructure.
It is essential that SMBs choose cloud services that are always available, backed up and secure. All data on the hosted platforms must reside in South Africa and if some is not, must meet POPIA / GDPR, data governance and compliance requirements. There should be a ticketing system for the customer area, available 24/7, with emergency assistance services.
Smith advises looking for other aspects, including a choice between Linux or Windows web hosting. Email hosting should offer a clean and manageable experience, offering larger limits in mailbox size, an easy-to-use mail management platform, and be highly available. Backup as a service should include a choice of desktop backups, server backups, and Office 365 backups.
When it comes to SSL certificates for your website, look for a choice between standard, generic, and multi-domain (SAN) SSL certificates. “You also want hosted and dedicated servers to run your applications in the cloud, a user-friendly cloud portal to manage your servers. Cyber security endpoint protection should be offered at an annual or monthly cost. “
It has been incredibly easy for SMBs to procure hosted cloud services, much like any online purchase. All they have to do is visit a cloud marketplace Website, choose the product they want to buy, register their details and check their shopping cart. They will receive an email with their portal login details and they can immediately start using the service.
Smith concludes, “By using hosted cloud services, SMBs can quickly and efficiently enable remote workforce to collaborate without having to invest in the infrastructure or technical skills required to set up their own cloud. They can scale up or down as needed and add or remove features as their requirements change, virtually overnight. Naturally, this goes beyond the cost savings inherent in using hosted cloud services. “