Some ideas are ahead of their time. For example, in 1891, William Morrison built the first-ever electric car. However, it took 117 years for the first legal road-worthy version to appear in the form of the Tesla Roadster. By contrast, technology has changed significantly over the last twenty to thirty years, and some ideas, like cloud-based solutions, get adopted at a much faster pace than others. And while that uptake has been slow in some industries, the change has been incredibly fast in most cases, especially since the onset of the global pandemic.
First established in the late 1990s, cloud data centers (or DCs) allow companies to lease infrastructure and access resources or systems over the internet. Twenty years on, a report by the global research group, Synergy, which provides quarterly market tracking and segmentation data on IT and Cloud-related markets, shows the total spend on cloud services reached $178 billion in 2021. The market grew by 38% in Q4 alone.
So, what caused so many companies to make the transition to the cloud?
It was a necessity for some, and for others, it was an inevitable change where the benefits far outweighed the alternatives. A massive catalyst for this jump was the global pandemic. Lockdown disrupted supply chains, resulting in businesses finding new ways of working and adapting quickly and efficiently to varying circumstances.
Compounding matters have been political unrest, accompanied by damage and looted servers to name a few. Add on to those various power failures and natural disasters, such as the flooding we have recently seen in some parts of the country, and businesses have been left with little choice but to reconsider their options for more robust and resilient alternatives. And then, of course, there is the question of costs, both obvious and hidden.
Furthermore, customer expectations have increased significantly, pushing businesses to digitally transform faster than they had initially planned.
Route of least resistance
There are several possible approaches to consider when it comes to cloud technology. Whether or not an ERP system is required is no longer in question; it’s an absolute necessity. The predicament is more around which route you’ll be taking. Most distributors and wholesalers choose to host their ERP or business management systems in the cloud. While doing that, they look at outsourcing the service, rather than managing it internally.
Outsourcing your hosting has many benefits and can help weather the storms when issues like power failures, theft, and natural disasters come into play.
Resilience in the face of power outages
Resilience is key, and we most certainly encounter enough challenges to help us withstand adversity, and where we can’t, there are ways and means around it. For example, let's say a distributor has its own server room on-site. They will undoubtedly be affected by power outages. Hopefully, they’ll have backup power sources and so forth in place. And if they don’t, their servers could cease to function. Of course, this could be catastrophic, both in terms of trading capacity and lost data. Backup power supplies are always an option, but the costs needed to maintain and run these can often be significant.
By contrast, IT services in the cloud run on a network of data centers positioned across geographically diverse locations. In addition, they have their own power generators. So, should a power outage affect one area, IT services still run through an on-site generator. And if that instance of the server fails to execute, the job can be transferred to another server instance. This resilience gives businesses multiple redundancies should the worst happen, which, in turn, provides confidence to weather any outage or storm.
Have you considered ALL the costs?
Cost is another factor that might not always be clear upfront. Service providers, who manage your hosting on your behalf, will have generators in place, which means you don’t need to worry about the additional power for your servers which also affects cost. Space won’t be an issue either as you won’t need a dedicated server room, which again affects cost. Not to mention that you won’t have to worry about the added electricity bills to keep your server room cool at all times.
Reducing your costs amid spiraling prices
Energy prices have skyrocketed. However, hosting through the cloud means that businesses pay a fixed monthly cost. So, companies that use the cloud are essentially hedging against rising electricity and hardware prices in the future. In such turbulent times, such certainty is a huge benefit. And when you think about the constant supply of electricity that servers need, companies managing the hosting on-site will undoubtedly see a considerable rise in bills.
Naturally, if a distribution or merchant company runs a server on-site, the IT maintenance, upgrades, backups, and security protection required means that they will also have to pay for a team of experienced and dedicated professionals to carry out these tasks. Unfortunately, such an overhead often varies wildly, making it hard for companies to plan effectively. Additionally, concerns about these costs can prevent businesses from completing future updates and integrations, leaving them less secure and more inefficient.
However, transitioning to the cloud means that your service provider looks after your infrastructure for you. So, there's no need for complicated and expensive hardware maintenance and upgrades. Backups run for you, and disaster recovery plans are already in place. Even better, the cost of all these overheads consolidates into one monthly fee that's affordable and predictable. That way, companies of all sizes can scale and grow as needed—all without the need for expensive upfront investment.
If your ERP or business management system currently runs on an on-premise server, moving it to the cloud is not a big issue. Making the switch doesn't have to come at a massive cost either, nor is it as time-consuming or disruptive as you might think. In fact, with the right provider, the process could be seamless and take place over a weekend. But, of course, it's always worth discussing this with the experts if you have any concerns about disruptions.
With all these benefits, it's important to remember that not all cloud services are equal. For example, let's suppose you run your IT system on a cheaper network. In that case, you'll experience many unexpected challenges, which, could pose a severe threat to the operation of your business in the case of data security and the likes.
Give your business IT operation an enhanced layer of protection
Kerridge Commercial Systems (KCS) are well-seasoned in implementing cloud-based ERP or business management solutions. We deploy all the necessary security measures, and we adopt best practices that are in effect at all times. Additionally, we maintain network resilience with more back-ups and faster recovery times.
The ongoing headache of disk space will no longer give you worry either. Plus, our dedicated teams check your infrastructure and adapt to any changes as appropriate. So, in most cases, this will be a more comprehensive service than if you were to do it yourself.
Face the future with confidence
Like with anything in life, there will always be risks. Consequently, cloud computing is not one hundred percent guaranteed to be free from all problems. But in most cases, our cloud network will optimise your system performance. As importantly, enhanced layers of protection will surround your data. With K-Cloud from Kerridge Commercial Systems, you can run your business safely, forever assured that a professional level of security protects your system. Best practices are always in place, and we continually monitor your system to keep you as secure as possible.
Admittedly, it's comforting to see all your data in a room or ‘safely’ in a physical box in front of you. It's tangible, you know where it is, and you feel in control. But it's vital to examine the detail and assess how much running your network will cost, especially in these uncertain times, and assess how you can future proof your business.
Indeed, as a technology and an idea, the time for cloud computing is now. It offers businesses improved performance, security, and convenience. And all for a price that's more affordable and that’s almost certainly more predictable.
If you'd like to learn more about the benefits or have more questions, please contact us to discuss how our cloud-based ERP solutions might work in your business.
Find out more about Kerridge Commercial Systems' innovative solutions at kerridgecs.co.za.