Many people have asked this question as we evangelize across Africa trying to bring awareness on the benefits of Cloud Computing to an emerging African economy of $2.5 trillion.
The question I most often get is this: How can cloud computing boost the African economy and a country’s GDP.
Here is to this intriguing question:
Cloud Computing in easy terms is the storing and accessing of data and other programs over the internet instead of storing these in a computer’s hard drive. This means that the terms “Cloud Computing” are used in a metaphoric way to describe the fact that data is stored on the internet which is out there in the skies or cloud. It reduces digital-divide, giving more African countries access to technological resources.
Studies from companies have shown that cloud computing enhances organization activities. For instance, 47% of respondents say they use cloud computing for mobility/remote working, 27% utilise it to get access to technical expertise and 38% believes cloud computing reduces operating costs. However, the benefits in cloud computing are endless as its effectiveness is based on the proficiency of users. This is the gap Primus Cloud Solution is filling.
According to AWS (Amazon Web Services), “Cloud computing is the on-demand delivery of IT resources over the internet with a pay-as-you-go pricing. Instead of buying, owning and maintaining Physical data centres and servers, you can access technology services, such as computing power, storage, and databases, on an as-needed basis from a cloud provider like AWS”
From the above definition, we note a few very interesting facts:
On-demand delivery of IT resources: This means that IT resources are made available to the user as he needs them. If the user needs just 20GB of storage, he requests just for 20GB. He doesn’t need to buy and keep idle resources waiting to use in the future. In this case, emerging African small size businesses can demand the resources they need to test their concepts, once done, they tear them down without incurring huge sums of money. If their business ideas are successful, they can easily scale up resources according to what their business needs dictate.
Pay-as-you-go Pricing: This is a payment model which allows you to easily adapt to changing business needs without overcommitting budgets and improving your responsiveness to changes. With this model, you can adapt your business depending on need and not on forecasts, reducing the risk of overprovisioning or missing capacity. This is intimately related to the first point discussed above. This will save idle infrastructure cost, and permit businesses to rather scale their businesses or reduce losses in a case where users could have missed out on correct capacity. This is a simple but very effective model that will allow businesses in Africa, optimize on their infrastructure spending and hence growing their businesses effectively.
Owning and Maintaining physical Servers in Data Centers: The last time I checked at the pricing models for physical servers I was shocked. Many small-sized businesses in Africa will find it hard spending large sums upfront for servers and or data centre costs. Cloud computing opens them up to being able to create virtual servers with flexible capacity that suits their needs. They pay for just what they use and no need for upfront infrastructure cost. This is a great opportunity as those who could not raise large infrastructure costs can now afford to bring their business ideas to light. All they need is a web browser, an email account and their business ideas can be tested even through the free tier opportunities provided by AWS, Azure, Google and many other cloud providers.
In effect, the time is now, and African businesses need to begin leveraging the advantages Cloud Computing brings to the table. Cloud Computing can essentially boost African’s economy as well as up the GDP of African countries through sustainable digital transformation and innovation. When we talk of cloud computing we immediately think of the following:
1. Reduced IT costs: Moving to cloud computing may reduce the cost of managing and maintaining your IT systems. A lot of the work that was manually done by system administrators could be managed by these cloud platforms depending on the migration model chosen. A quick look at the diagram below shows the various infrastructure management models:
1.1. On-premise model where everything is manually handled by the IT admins. There is a lot of manual intervention here as the OS, networking, storage, servers, middleware, runtime, data and applications are all managed by the system admins.
1.2. Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) is a form of cloud computing that provides virtualized computing resources over the internet. This model is based on a pay-as-you-go basis. IaaS enables end-users to scale and shrink resources on an as-needed basis, reducing the need for high, up-front capital expenditures or unnecessary “owned” infrastructure, especially in the case of workloads that are very dynamic. How will this help in boosting the African economy and GDP of countries? Well, more businesses mean more income and improved GDP.
1.3. Platform as a service (PaaS) In this model, developers essentially rent everything they need to build an application, relying on a cloud provider for development tools, infrastructure and operating systems. This is one of the three service models in Cloud computing.
1.4. Software as a Service (SaaS) allows users to connect to and use cloud-based apps over the Internet. Common examples are services like email, calendaring, and office tools such as Microsoft Office 365. SaaS provides a complete software solution that you purchase on a pay-as-you-go basis from a cloud service provider.
These are the four models represented in the diagram below.
2. Scalability: Once you have a well-architected infrastructure in the cloud, you can easily scale up or scale down depending on your business needs. This flexibility will positively bring value to your business as you can scale up when traffic increases or scale down when traffic reduces.
3. Business continuity: An emerging viable tool for disaster recovery is the cloud. Because cloud computing relies heavily on hardware-independent virtualization technology, it enables enterprises to quickly back up data, applications, and even operating systems to the cloud.
4. Collaboration efficiency: Cloud collaboration tools, on the other hand, increase employee efficiency and productivity. It empowers employees to more effectively and freely interact with each other, enhancing team communication. These applications also improve teamwork and innovation, as ideas are exchanged more easily.
5. Access to automatic updates: With Cloud computing, most of the services offered are automatically updated and you do not need any manual intervention.
All these benefits will help in digital transformation, innovation and the implementation of cutting-edge technologies that add a lot of value to businesses as they grow towards maturity. Cloud is the foundation for this new agile business Africa. It’s the platform for enabling agile application development. Cloud-based infrastructure is key to delivering flexible, on-demand access to the resources underpinning these new digital business offerings. It allows organizations to scale infrastructure as needed to support changing business priorities while reducing the risks of wasted IT resources that inhibited past investments in new digital services. It is time we take the leap of faith and enhance this transformation that we really need for an emerging Africa. With the advent of the Internet, then the mobile explosion, and, now, the big data analytics revolution, companies must dedicate more IT resources and staff to the creation and continual development of systems of engagement, insight, and action that improve the customer experience rather than focus on infrastructure management. This means that the cloud adoption framework is what is currently needed for business across Africa. They must also make sure that existing applications and these new digital services are consistently managed in terms of security, reliability, and scalability and these are perfectly achieved through the robust systems provided by the various cloud providers.
We realize that there are some disadvantages presented by adopting cloud computing. We, however, set out in this article to present the value it can bring to businesses across Africa. We shall in another article present some disadvantages that come with cloud computing and how these could be handled to get a seamless experience in the cloud.