Essentials of Cloud Computing While Working From Home
As more of the world is put into mandatory lockdowns – an unprecedented event in recent history – an increasing number of people have been forced to work from home. Many businesses were not ready for such a remote-working environment and the migration of their key digital assets, from customer relationship management systems (CRM) to accounting software or other enterprise platforms is lagging behind. HSC has a proven track record of being able to move office critical software to the cloud. Our secure data center, located in Centurion, Gauteng serves as a basis for this ‘cloud’ and offers essential enhancements that you won’t readily get anywhere else.
Table of Contents
- 1 Essentials of Cloud Computing While Working From Home
Your digital assets are of utmost importance to the running of your business. You need to make sure they are safe from cyber-attacks ranging from inconsequential worms to directed hacks. We provide strategic security solutions through real-time firewalls, antiviruses, and other remote-monitoring features to make sure any threats to your data are dealt with immediately. We employ multiple failover options and back-ups in the form of replicated hosted servers (for automatic failover), and 24-hour cyclic back-ups to an independent HSC partner. We also follow Disaster Recovery best practice and you can be sure that we tick as many boxes as possible with our 99.9% service level agreement (SLA).
Your data can be accessed using multiple devices simultaneously. While the live hosted server is running, any nominated employees have access to the hosted software. Even if there is a fault somewhere, the automatic failover features guarantee smooth transition and continued collaboration. So, there’s no need to worry about business-specific tasks such as payroll or stock-taking coming to a halt simply because employees are not on-premises.
Location is not a factor in terms of cloud migrations. For cloud services, installation costs are negotiable, but they are typically included into the monthly service fee – unless you decide to pay upfront. This helps you reduce costs from the onset. Any cloud application, from CRM, accounting systems, ERP systems to stock management systems – even email hosting – can be hosted on our cloud quickly and without much hassle. VoIP requires a feasibility study. However, for working from home, VoIP telephony is unrelated, and it is the cloud computing which continues to drive your business. HSC is affiliated with 24 internet service providers (ISPs) across the country, meaning we offer a countrywide service with the best value for money, depending on your particular needs. This ‘get it anywhere, anytime’ ability allows us to keep our high service standards and offset any latencies you might struggle with.
Cloud Deployment Models
There are four different types of cloud deployment models: public cloud, private cloud, hybrid cloud and community cloud.
- Public Cloud – This type of cloud deployment supports all users who want to make use of hardware or software on a subscription basis. An example of this Gmail or DataFileHost.
- Private Cloud – This is the infrastructure that is usually limited to one organisation. This is the deployment method most businesses use to control their data and keep it secure.
- Hybrid Cloud – A mixture of public and private cloud deployments. This is usually for companies who need to scale their IT infrastructure quickly and supplement this using the resources offered by the public cloud, such as more space.
- Community Cloud – This type of cloud deployment usually means multiple organisations are sharing computing resources, such as universities or police departments within a country.
Depending on the size of your company, you may choose the private cloud or hybrid cloud. We won’t elaborate on the benefits of the latter, but the benefits of the private cloud are clear.
- Flexibility – You can update and make changes to your hosted applications from anywhere in the country. You can also collaborate and work from anywhere.
- Low Cost – Since you are not hosting the applications on your own servers, you don’t have to worry about hardware upgrades, maintenance, or general overheads such as electricity, associated with having your own servers.
- Security – Every single data breach could do irreparable harm to your organisation. Security is one of the primary features of a private cloud as it is not indexed on the web, to begin with, meaning it is not easily accessible to many. Add to that the sophisticated firewalls and monitoring HSC uses to protect your VPN, and you have threefold security.
- Continuity – Since we offer you a duplicate server environment and then an additional back-up on top of that, having more than one server builds a redundancy environment. We’re able to perform critical system maintenance without affecting operations as there is no downtime.
There are not many disadvantages to private cloud deployment but the few that do exist should be noted.
- Under-utilisation – You need to be able to make use of the resources at hand. Managing and maximizing your utilisation should be your concern because the cloud platform is there to be flexible and efficient for you.
- Platform Scaling – It is tricky but not difficult to move from a small private cloud to a bigger one. However, as noted before, there are hybrid clouds that can help alleviate this, as more resources are made available to you.
A Uniquely South African Solution
South Africa faces its own unique challenges when it comes to implementing and maintaining cloud solutions. All of our customer support is done remotely through AnyDesk or Team Viewer and user issues are dealt with on a case-by-case base using this remote model. This puts HSC in a rare position to be able to help our clients even during the most high-pressure times.
The South African Cloudsphere
If you haven’t moved your operations to the cloud yet, we suggest doing it now. We have done, and are busy doing, a few cloud migrations for SMMEs. Our standard fiber quote for an SMME of between 20 and 40 employees (depending on the fiber-readiness of the area) can be between R2500 and R5500 for a 20 to 50 Mbps line. Most telecom companies choose to focus on clients with 500+ staff where issues can sometimes take hours or even days to resolve. Our approach to targeting smart SMMEs with an eye on high service quality and quick dispute resolution is one of the tenets of our success.
South African ISPs, Load-Shedding & General Connectivity
As we mentioned before, HSC is affiliated to 24 South African ISPs. This puts us in a unique position to provide service across a large-cap of the small and medium business market because we are able to support whichever ISP choice you make. Going with larger ISPs, in terms of connectivity and network-coverage is always ideal. But each business case is different, and your individual needs might be better fitted to a smaller, independent ISP. Either way, we will continue to support your cloud presence and liaise with whichever ISP you select.
The addition of load-shedding also causes many businesses distress seeing as they are not able to continue with business-critical operations. Cloud computing addresses this through some of the features mentioned above, key among them being availability. Because there are automatic failover systems and back-ups of your data, even if all you can get is a mobile signal, you can still access your data using that device, as all you need is an internet connection to access your company’s VPN.
Key Take-aways for COVID-19 Readiness
During this ensuing global crisis, your business will suffer operational losses nobody could have planned. To safeguard people’s livelihoods and continue your business’s longevity, porting your operations to the cloud, if you can, is a must. Our VPN migration steps are so simple, they can be counted on the fingers of one hand:
- We require remote access to your servers. This is usually granted by the existing IT person.
- Once access is granted, we analyse the requirements and create a virtual server accordingly to more than cater for your needs.
- Once the virtual/cloud server is created we migrate the data to that environment for you to test. You will typically need to test interaction speed and stress test the environment to cater for busy periods (usually month-end).
- Once approved, we will set up all required users and normal operations will resume on the cloud server.
One major value-add is that the software environment and feel will be very similar to what you had before – the only real change is how it is accessed. Furthermore, at HSC we prioritise continuity and security, so each hosted cloud environment has a primary host server (for day-to-day operation), we also replicate this host server on a backup server every 24 hours. In the event of a sudden disaster we would immediately switchover to the backup, or if we notice performance has slowed.
Above all, HSC falls under the South African government’s lockdown category for essential services, namely: (13) Newspaper, broadcasting and telecommunications infrastructure and services. Which means we will be continuing to operate all throughout the COVID-19 crisis to make sure that your cloud-based operations run unimpeded.
If a data migration to the cloud makes more sense to you now than ever before, contact HSC Systems for a free consultation to maintain your operations and remain buoyant in these trying times.