As a small to medium-sized business in South Africa, you need to think strategically about your long-term success. You need both physical and digital infrastructure to support your growth and be prepared to overcome new challenges as they appear.
On the digital side, the foundation starts with the easy access and safe storage of your business data.
One modern solution is the cloud. A survey in 2019 found that 77% of businesses across South Africa are currently using cloud services in their IT department. Whilst globally, businesses of all sizes worldwide are shifting their data and IT infrastructure to cloud storage.
However, moving to the cloud isn’t an easy decision to make.
In this guide, we will take you through several benefits and precautions to keep in mind when considering cloud storage for your South African business.
What is Cloud Storage?
The cloud is not a physical entity but an expansive network of separate, connected servers that operate as a single data ecosystem. These cloud servers are located worldwide, and companies like yourself don’t have to worry about managing or monitoring them.
Cloud storage enables businesses to save their data online securely. The data can be easily accessed from any location globally, and the business maintains control of who can access it.
For a recurring fee, there are multiple cloud storage service providers to lease from, such as Microsoft, Amazon, and Google. This is in contrast to traditional storage methods where physical servers and infrastructure, usually located on your premises, are purchased, owned, and controlled by your business directly.
The Pros of Cloud Storage for Small Business
Easy Data Backup and Recovery
Gone are the days of setting reminders to save your work and dealing with endless hours of downtime for server backups and maintenance.
Without any disruption or distraction to the workday, cloud storage automatically syncs, backups, and secures your data across multiple sources and devices company-wide.
And if data loss or ransomware grinds your business to a halt, cloud storage ensures rapid and comprehensive recovery. Because it operates virtually and in conjunction with on-site infrastructure, your IT team can use the cloud to restore business operations within minutes – and not in the range of hours or days.
In short, cloud storage is the foundational safeguard for business continuity.
Ease of Access
As long as there’s an internet connection, you can access the cloud from anywhere at any time on almost any device.
Employees will have total and immediate access to the files they need even when out of the country. Similarly, they can upload files directly to the cloud for sharing and collaborating on projects remotely.
Your business will experience reduced downtime by supporting remote workers with the cloud. Lockdown restrictions, work-from-home setups, load shedding, and business trips make seamless remote work a must for any South African business serious about maximining employee productivity no matter the circumstances.
Scalable with Rapid Deployment
Storage capacity on the cloud is essentially limitless. If you decide to expand your business and scale-up, you don’t have to worry about running out of virtual storage or real-world limitations, such as an office building with no physical space to expand the server room.
With the cloud, simply pay for how much space you need right now and upgrade (or downgrade) as your needs change.
Your business opens a new branch and adds twenty PCs to your network. Traditionally, you would invest in new server hardware to handle the added storage requirements. This takes considerable time and money for the purchasing, installation, and configuration processes. On the other hand, the cloud makes it quick and easy to change your storage capacity within minutes with literally just a few clicks.
The Cons of Cloud Storage for Small Business
Internet Speed Limitations
Effective use of cloud storage depends on a healthy internet connection. If your business experiences slow or limited connectivity, cloud storage is likely unfeasible as it will lead to downtime and delays.
This is a limiting factor for many small businesses in South Africa. Consult a local managed IT services provider to determine if your internet connection can effectively support cloud storage.
Security and Privacy Concerns
Always remember that cloud service providers are third-party to your business. With your data in the cloud, you might experience a lack of privacy because it’s never fully within your control.
And in the event of a cybersecurity attack, it is the cloud provider that has the direct power of monitoring, mitigating, and managing any threat to your business data. This means your business leadership and IT team have even less ability to take control if things go wrong.
Learn more about data theft and small business:
Once your business migrates to a specific cloud service provider, it’s particularly difficult to change to another.
This is defined as ‘vendor lock-in’, where a business is forced to continue using their current cloud provider because moving away poses substantial financial, configurational, and/or operational impacts.
Vendor lock-in is a major concern as businesses risk being stuck with a provider that undergoes a decrease in quality, support, uptime, inordinate price increases, or a change in product offering entirely. These risks obviously weigh heavily on the limited budget and operational capacity of a small business.
This makes it important to consult with IT experts who are experienced in vendor management before choosing a cloud service provider.
Thanks to the cloud, the ability to access your business data anytime and anywhere is a crucial step towards increasing both business continuity and employee productivity.
Despite some inherent drawbacks, cloud storage offers a great return on investment and ensures effective data backup and recovery, support for remote work, and rapid scalability.
Take the Next Step with iSite Computers
Organizations in South Africa and across the world use cloud solutions to add value to their business and stay prepared for what’s to come.
Here at iSite Computers, we help small to medium-sized businesses in South Africa with everything they need for effective cloud storage.