Loadshedding killed the on-prem star

  • Loadshedding’s persistence means that SMEs with on-prem solutions need to invest in backup power or move to the cloud.
  • However, international services can rack up costs quickly and connectivity issues can leave your business hanging.
  • Local investment into cloud computing means there are other options for business owners that are affordable and more cost-effective than the aging servers they may be running.

Before connectivity improved to a point where working on a cloud platform was comparable to working on a local system, many businesses had no choice but to use on-premise servers and infrastructure.

To this day many companies opt for this solution, but according LNX Solutions, the energy crisis brings with it complexity to on-prem solutions.

“Keeping the lights on is now an affordable non-issue for SMEs,” says Matt Feinstein, CEO of Cape-based LNX Solutions. “It’s the need to maintain diesel-powered back-up cooling systems in on-premises server rooms, in particular, that is seeing us receive at least half a dozen enquiries a week from small firms that can no longer afford to power and cool their own servers during loadshedding. Cooling with fossil fuels does not come cheap in a country famed for its sunny skies and lack of oil reserves.”

While solar power may help to keep the lights on, servers and server rooms require a large amount of electricity which solar can’t maintain unless its at a scale that many SMEs can’t afford. As an example. Teraco recently reached an agreement with Eskom to wheel 120MW of power generated at a solar power facility in the Free State. We’re not convinced most SMEs can absorb the cost of that sort of solution.

It seems obvious then that cloud is the best choice for most SMEs given that all the power they’d need is – as Feinstein says – for “keeping the lights on”.

However, not all cloud solutions are created equal, and as the internet woes last week showed, when international connectivity goes down, operations grind to a halt.

While the likes of Google, AWS, and Azure are generally very reliable, these platforms do experience downtime as Azure experienced last week. This is where locally hosted services have a role to play. These service providers are also incredibly important for businesses that handle sensitive data that needs to remain within South Africa’s borders.

“While cross-border hyperscalers offer potentially massive computing performance, which most SMEs don’t need, there is a definite sense of comfort for local SMEs in knowing an easily-contactable South African company hosts their off-site server in an identifiable location while understanding the unique needs of local firms,” notes Feinstein.

There’s also the matter of cost. Consistent investment into the cloud computing space means services are only getting cheaper. According to an Access Partnership study, increased cloud uptake will generate an economic value of up to R185.9 billion between 2023 and 2030.

There are many choices when it comes to local cloud and everything-as-a-service providers. There is also growing investment in local ICT infrastructure from the likes of Google, AWS and Azure, all of which offer cloud services hosted locally in some capacity.

This abundance of choice does mean that SMEs need to take care when choosing a service provider. We always recommend a provider that is platform and solution-agnostic. Ideally, you want a provider that tailors services to your needs and helps enhance your business processes.

Be careful not to overspend though, it doesn’t help if you end up spending as much on cloud services as you would have on backup power for an on-prem solution.

[Image – Julia Joppien on Unsplash]


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