“Our whole company is Cloud-based, we don’t actually have an office!” is something you might hear in a meeting, or read about in an article. Everyone is talking about the Cloud, but what is it actually? The Cloud is a network of servers, and each server has a different function.
Some servers use computing power to run applications or “deliver a service”. Makes more sense now? Right didn’t think so, unless you are part of the ICT-industry. We already use Cloud Services, often without knowing it. If you use any services of Google or Apple, you are using and accessing Cloud technology.
So I would rather say in our world, Cloud is “ICT Services for rent” or a set of technologies which makes specific ICT services available anywhere in a secure manner with guaranteed performance. Whether it is a software application, data that needs to be stored or software programmes (Software as a Service), it’s all possible and at the organisation’s finger tips with the Cloud. The services are available anywhere and anytime through any enabled devices and are totally secure and with an exponentially increased efficiency. Sounds too good to be true, well we know it isn’t. Most organisations and companies across the globe have already embraced completely secure cloud service based solutions.
Imagine applying for your National ID card from the comfort of your home, and if approved have the card delivered to your doorstep. If rejected for some reason, receive the exact response as a Popup Alert or SMS from Home Affairs with a reason/explanation of the rejection. All this facilitated within a timed framework.
This is what the Cloud facilitates and does when services and processes are enabled properly. IT transforms Government services by providing automated interfaces for public services. Reducing queues, cutting down on paperwork, shortening processes and decreasing frustrations amongst citizens and Government employees alike, as services and deliverables are digitized and streamlined.
Cloud-based solutions and Software as a Service are almost without exception part of every country’s overall development plan in terms of public service infrastructure, economic outlook and investment environment. Developing its e-Governance and overall ICT-infrastructure in both the public and private sectors.
Citizen services is only one of the benefits of Cloud computing, there is more to it; for example IT consolidation to reduce costs, and improve operational efficiency i.e. do more with less and more efficiently and quickly. Shared Services allows different government entities to exchange information in real-time enabling fraud detection and prevention for example. Supporting documents from different parastatals are no longer needed when applying for a loan at a bank, as the system used by the Bank automatically queries police records from NamPol and credit score from Bank of Namibia, and can confirm a person’s ID from Home Affairs in a matter of seconds. Government can generate additional revenue by selling these services to the financial institutions and their customers.
The examples above are focused on Government. However, companies and organisations benefit just as much from Cloud and Shared Services and are even embracing Software as a Service. If we do nothing as Namibia, but just stand by and watch this new revolution pass us by, it will cause long-term damage and will create an unbridgeable digital divide compared to other nations which are adapting to this trend proactively. It really makes sense for every business and organisation to use Cloud Services. So what do we do? We need to adopt strategies which will enable us to utilize cloud computing and deliver effective and efficient e-Governance and Cloud Services and software to companies and organisations, no matter their size.
The first step is to make use of local Cloud service providers who have already, or are implementing Cloud Data Centers within Namibia. This is an ideal solution for Government sector as well as companies and is a great way to upgrade your total array of storage, data, software and other ICT-services and make them manageable, cost effective and keep them up-to-date. We have the know-how right here in Namibia to reap the benefits of Cloud-based solutions.
By Llewellyn le Hané, Director, Green Enterprise Solution