Education's lessons point to business needs from cloud service providers
Education's lessons point to business needs from cloud service providers, says Mark Harris, marketing director of XON.
Education institutions are no different from traditional businesses when it comes to many of the challenges they face in today's economy with the effects of digitisation and mobility, says Mark Harris, marketing director of XON.
Its wholly-owned business, Wingu, Africa's first Ubuntu Certified Public Cloud computing platform, hosted an event for educators earlier in the month where they voiced common difficulties in today's business environment.
Their top three difficulties:
* Keenly feel the impacts of pressured revenue streams;
* Fierce competition; and
* The need for greater efficiencies (in educating and delivering education content).
Wingu's cloud platform extends exactly the economies of scale education institutions want. And those precisely suit what businesses need too. For example, Wingu has one engineer who can easily maintain 120 virtual platforms due to DevOps technologies that scale resources, by automating routine tasks. That results in capex and HR opex reductions. Business systems, which consist of servers, operating systems, and software, can be spun up in a few minutes, charged per minute if so required, and charged in rands so customers aren't exposed to fluctuating exchange rates like the services from other cloud service providers.
The digitisation of business has resulted in what education organisations noted is a swelling of IT's HR overhead. Budgets are tight and many are being spent on people before IT departments even contemplate servers, bandwidth, mobile devices, app development, rollout and maintenance.
When they're spending everything they have just keeping the wheels turning there's nothing left for development, progress, innovation - the tools they need to fight competition. And business principals are increasingly squealing for tools to deal with fiercely competitive markets.
Cloud's not new. Everyone worth their monthly salt has long heard of the benefits of cloud, all the way from the extreme optimism (it'll revolutionise your business) to the resolutely pessimistic (your information's at risk, you WILL be hacked, and your reputation will be irreparably damaged).
The truth is that the road to cloud is a migration. Just like the old distributed computing of the '70s, the subsequent migration to client-server, and the return to the distributed model, it's a re-emergence, even if it's one that's been reimagined based on advanced technologies. And the migrations in those decades proved one irrevocable fact: the forklift approach is for suckers, fools, and fearless angels.
So cloud may well revolutionise your business - eventually. It's not going to happen overnight. In the education sector one of the services that's being offered is for students to spin up a server for a project, anywhere from a few minutes to as long as they need, months or years even. They use the resource, get the results, submit their project, assignment, results, and ditch the service when they no longer need it. No contracts, no hassles, no infrastructure capex to recoup.
Similarly, businesses could also easily adopt the tried-and-tested outsourced mail server or Web hosting facility without exposing themselves to undue risk. That stuff's been done a million times.
But organisations are increasingly using cloud services to perform an extraordinary analysis, perhaps testing a new product, gauging market acceptance of a new facility, something non-core. The model's proven to work because of the capex advantages and elastic opex scenario mirroring customer, and therefore billable, uptake.
How does that help them?
* They restrain budgets maintaining existing infrastructure (and therefore continue deriving return on their investment (ROI);
* While eradicating capex and minimising opex to test new products and services in controlled and elastic environments that can be quickly cancelled when unsuccessful or rapidly scaled to grow revenues and profits when successful; and
* Get the rapid efficiencies and flexibilities they need to become the market-driving competitor everyone else is worried about.
Shifting core business processes and functions to the cloud usually follows a protracted familiarisation of working with the model, the service provider, and figuring out the many nuances that we cumulatively call experience. But you can immediately get the advantages I've mentioned above by working with a local expert who understands your needs and is willing to accommodate extraordinary requirements. That's why we'll be hosting more events, for business, like the one we hosted for education organisations to gain the granular understanding of your needs and how we can help you achieve your business goals.