Greg VercellottiGreg Vercellotti

Cloud and virtual models have done much for changing perceptions around the use of applications

According to , pre-sale systems engineer, at Kaseya Africa, software-as-a-service (SaaS) models are bringing about a step change in consumer perceptions to computing. “Cloud, rather than a drastic shift in technology, has brought about a change in delivery, consumption, and, especially in SMEs, attitude towards software, as well as hardware purchase.”

, GM of technology and infrastructure at Business says, “Traditional proprietary software has not changed in light of SaaS models. The outcome that has occurred due to SaaS models is that more pressure is being placed on traditional proprietary software vendors to enable their software to be time-based.”

Many of the major software vendors have transformed their own environments and their proprietary software to fit in with the SaaS model, explains Jonathan Clarke, alliances manager at EMC Southern Africa. “Until now, software licensing has all been based on the customer’s physical infrastructure,with fairly complex variations depending on the individual environment. With the SaaS model, that is no longer appropriate, so one of the crucial issues affecting proprietary software and its transformation to the cloud has been a major shift in the way licence models are defi ned,” he says.

Smith attributes a shift in consumer perception to three main catalysts. “The first catalyst includes an increase in bandwidth to the end-user. While not yet a reality in Africa, the US and Europe enjoy 10Mb to the home – and this has brought about change in the way the end-user interacts with software. Secondly, the massive increase in procurement of smartphones and tablets has forced software vendors to consider mobility. Thirdly, there has been a growing need for software to be hardware agnostic – a big driver for a cloud model.”

, executive director at Dariel Solutions believes that every organisation is unique and as such, the needs for such applications vary. “However, despite the difference, similarities can be found in challenges that occur,” he says. These, according to Vercellotti, include network reliability, response time and latency, lack of flexibility in administering and controlling the application, and limited ability to customise the application cloud concerns.

“There is still a misconception that moving processes into the cloud is a less secure approach over traditional approaches,” Thompson states. “However, with infrastructure development continually occurring, where high broadband speeds are being made possible, the move towards services in the cloud is becoming more realistic and with that, there is ample opportunity to reap many business benefits.”


On a local level, the applications currently being developed are, in most cases, a hybrid model or alternatively focused solely on the cloud due to certain business requirements that can take advantage of the benefits that a full cloud solution has to offer, Thompson explains.

According to Smith, most software vendors are providing SaaS bundles locally. “Kaseya signed up over 18 000 new customers in one year, since its inception of cloud models less than two years ago. Similarly, local interest in cloud is gaining momentum. It’s different in South Africa – we have bandwidth constraints in terms of both availability, reliability, and cost, which is without doubt stalling uptake a little, but we’re seeing it pick up. And as bandwidth speed and penetration increases, so the viability of cloud solutions increase,” he says.

“Although South Africa is a slightly slower in terms of SaaS applications than our global counterparts, local service providers are starting to pull solutions together to offer in the cloud,” Clarke explains. “In fact, most of the service providers are gearing up for this, and some have made considerable progress down this road. The first applications likely to gain acceptance as SaaS offerings are CRM, office in-a-box, software development tools and desktop productivity tools.”

Christopher Lucier, managed services lead for Global Services says leveraging private cloud computing for more -rich desktop virtualisation is something that many clients are now seriously looking at. He says that for many organisations, the desktop remains among the most visible, most used components in their IT infrastructure. But it’s also the most expensive to deploy, refresh and support. “As end users move toward greater workplace mobility, their need for secure, anytime, anywhere access to corporate applications and data grows.

Smith says for enterprise-size organisations entering into a cloud model, virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) provides the best of both worlds. “With VDI, a user’s entire desktop is delivered to their device, but it’s virtual, allowing for productivity at any workstation. This model has taken off in the healthcare industry, as staff, especially in a hospital environment, are seldom in a single place for a long time. VDI can be seen as a different layer in the cloud stack – with SaaS accounting for a layer, IaaS as a layer, and VDI joins the platform as a service (or PaaS) layer,” he concludes.