‘Cloud aids collaboration in business environment’
Cloud computing is expected to be the next big thing in the ICT space. The Internet, or aptly put, broadband connectivity, will help to process, manage and store data on remote network servers. eT Edge News, MARTIN EKPEKE and ANSELM MICHERA spoke with Dele Nedd, managing director of Descasio, a cloud services provider, on the challenges and prospect of offering cloud services in an under-infrastructure environment. Nedd is happy with the adoption rate of cloud computing among Nigeria companies and sees rapid market expansion for this new service.
Cloud is a relatively new concept. As a company that provides cloud services, how will you rate the adoption of cloud services in Nigeria?
It is hard to give percentage but the adoption rate has actually been pretty good and I think our approach to cloud has actually helped. We don’t just go to an organization to say adopt our cloud solution. We go into an organization and understand where they are technology-wise; look for where there are challenges; understand the current solution and the pricing model, and based on that we proffer a cloud solution. Our core area is around messaging and collaboration. A simpler way to put it will be to say email related challenges and collaboration. Many organizations in Nigeria have some email solutions or some messaging platforms while some still don’t. Those that do have cumbersome difficulties to manage the solutions and prefer ours against what they currently have. There are people who are still very skeptical cloud because they want to be able to see their server and touch it. They feel they are more secured that way which is not necessarily the case.
Why do I have to move my existing services to the cloud, what are the benefits?
You don’t have to, but there are several reasons for cloud adoption. Among others, there is a good return on investment. There is ease of management. You find a lot of work environments where IT staff are burdened with managing on-premise solutions when they can actually be working on other productive tasks. You have a product and a messaging solutions on-premise and members of staff are constantly calling the IT department, my email is broken; I sent an email, it didn’t go. The on-premise IT staff must attend constantly to server related issues, including memory on the server, and the need to have the server restarted, etc. With cloud solution, these issues are generally easier to manage because the management of it is via web, so you are not burdened with recycling or restarting a server. There is ease of management. Another one is cost; cloud solutions are generally cost effective when you have to look at it from the total cost of ownership perspective. This means you look at the staffing for your on-premise solutions, you look at the hardware cost and the depreciating value of it as well as other additional hardware. You also look at storage, dealing with virus and spam related issues. The total cost of ownership for cloud solution cannot be overlooked. The edge our solution has is that it increases team collaborations. We all work in an environment of multiple people and we are sharing documents all the time, our cloud solution actually aids collaboration within the business environment and enterprise.
You have been deploying Google’s apps, are you working with local apps developers to increase their capacity?
Yes! We have been doing that and internally we also have developers, though, our core has been the Google apps environment so far. The Google apps can actually be extended, so we have written local applications. We actually look out for local developers. We were part of the just concluded Google Apps Developer‘s Challenge that Google organized. The goal of it was to aid and have an increase number of people that are developing and extending the Google Apps platform, from writing financial applications to workflows: things that can sit on the Google Apps that can be resold in the local market.
Who are your clients? Are you looking outside the shore of Lagos to other parts of Nigeria?
Our clients are in every industry: financial, legal, retail, marine, government, etc. We have done business with clients in all of those industries. There are a few clients listed on our website. We have got clients having a very small number of users like five users and clients who have up to a thousand users and more. The platform allows for easy scalability. Because of the cloud nature of our solution, we have been able to have clients we have not even seen. We are not an old company in Nigeria so we haven’t spread our wings across Nigeria but we are hoping to be able to do that.
Is the bandwidth connectivity challenge in Nigeria not affecting your ability to deliver cloud services?
Bandwidth has never been a challenge for us to deploy to a client as most people have internet and 95% of the clients all have personal account where they access their yahoo or Gmail accounts, Facebook, etc. As long as you can do some of these basic things you can leverage on our cloud solution. We have actually had maybe one or two clients that their internet was very slow and of course we made recommendations to them to upgrade their internet first. The platforms are optimized for your general maintenance, and if you look at where internet is today compare to five years ago, internet is a lot better today. Most of us today also have a blackberry or Android devices. If for whatever reason the internet goes down, I use one of my mobile devices to access my email or my documents via Google Drive which is where documents are stored and shared. So as long as I have my Android device phone, my tablet or my IPad with me, I have access to all my company’s documents that I work on all the time.
There is a public and private cloud. Which of these best serve a client?
The public and the private clouds are clearly two different things. The public cloud basically leverages on group of public IPs where your service is collocated in a data centre somewhere. The private cloud is organization specific; let use an example of a bank or an insurance company that have multiple branches, they can build or outsource a third party to build and manage a private cloud just for them. There is no one that is necessarily better; it is based on the needs of the organization and what they are doing. In addition to public and private cloud, you also have what they called hybrid type of cloud, which is a mix of the two. There is a cost difference between the two, but for either ways, it is still the cheaper option than what is currently obtained in the industry. We extend an SLA to all our clients from our service providers that guaranties data protection and safety.
Have cloud services impacted on current market, and what are the future opportunities?
I wouldn’t want to use the word from an impact point; technology has really evolved and will continue to evolve. Several years ago we didn’t have mobile phones, we only had landlines, and then somehow telecom companies came in and they have evolved and changed the market space with the way we communicate in Nigeria. Several big and small telecoms providers now exist in the market and thousands of new jobs have also been created. As more organisations begin to leverage on cloud, it will create a further market within that technology space that would create new jobs. But more importantly, it will allow organisations to be lot more efficient than they currently are. One of the biggest things we say about our cloud solutions is that you don’t need to be in your office to access your file or work. You can be out, on the road, and still be efficient. Before now, technology was not mobile. Once you leave the office, you can’t work. When you go to meet a client and do what you have to do with the client, you have to get back to the office before you type the outcome of the meeting into your local system. Today, things have changed.
There are people who are still very skeptical cloud because they want to be able to see their server and touch it. They feel they are more secured that way which is not necessarily the case.
The edge our solution has is that it increases team collaborations…our cloud solution actually aids collaboration within the business environment and enterprise.[Cloud] will allow organisations to be lot more efficient than they currently are.