Beyond the blackout

Issue 2/3 2023 Infrastructure, Security Services & Risk Management, Power Management

It seems like yesterday, and, yet a lifetime ago that we as a technology industry had to deal with one of the greatest crises of recent times – the COVID-19 pandemic.

Overnight, we were tasked with implementing digital systems and infrastructures that would take the core operations of South African enterprises and allow them to function online and remotely. Our clients wanted it to be ‘business as usual’ in the most unusual of times, a seamless transition to the digital transformation both they, and our country needed to have happen.

We made it happen. We found solutions. We had the technology to do so.

But now South Africa is faced with a challenge that dwarfs the pandemic. There is no greater threat to South African businesses than load shedding. It is that simple and that stark. It touches every aspect of us as a nation, as a people and as industries attempting to stabilise and grow the country.

It is the most disruptive challenge of our generation. Just ask the CEOs of large enterprises who have been speaking about how hard they have been hit by the blackouts. Just ask the business leaders who fear for what the greater knock-on impact is across all sectors. Just ask the Reserve Bank Governor who says almost a billion rand is lost every day in South Africa because of load shedding. Just ask economists who estimate almost a percentage point has been shaved off the country’s GDP because of Eskom’s struggles.

As with the pandemic, the technology industry needs to find solutions to the challenges load shedding creates for large enterprises in particular. The silver lining is in the cloud.

The cloud has been the defining trend in technology for some years. Back in 2015, one of the worst years of load shedding with 2003 hours of blackouts, there was already talk about how load shedding was forcing more companies to not only migrate to the cloud, but to take more of their operations there. Eight years later, with load shedding hitting South Africa every day this year, the conversation needs to be less about possibly moving to the cloud but of the absolute necessity to do so to future-proof enterprises.

The basics are that storing and transmitting data is reliant on power. It is estimated that data storage and transmission use one to two percent of global electricity, which is predicted to rise to a fifth of the world’s power output by 2040. If you are an enterprise that hosts your data centre onsite, this puts your productivity, continuity, and security at the whims of a power supply that is under massive strain. The choice is either to opt for significant capex in renewable energy or generators, or to use the infrastructure and back-up that is already on offer from cloud service providers.

That way businesses can effectively pass the problem of load shedding on to the provider, who has already invested in the infrastructure. The big players in the cloud space have their redundant power and back-up systems, and in many cases have invested in renewable energy both to keep their costs down and limit the impact on the climate. With the big players, such as Alibaba, for instance, the data is backed-up to multiple locations around the world, ensuring accessibility despite challenges in particular geographies.

With a constant, safe backup of data, there are no continuity issues or lost data. Work can carry on as per normal during a power outage because the workloads and data are readily accessible. Employees are also able to continue working offline if needed and have their work backed up automatically to the cloud when the power comes back in their location.

The cloud’s benefits are enormous and ever-evolving: agility, resiliency, flexibility, better security, increase in performance and savings in technology spend gives the potential to integrate innovation and expand the enterprise’s capabilities. The cloud is also becoming increasingly cost-effective. The benefits we saw from the forced digital transformation will grow exponentially as companies move more of their workloads and structures to the cloud.

Just as the pandemic accelerated the move to the cloud, so should load shedding provide the necessary impetus for wholesale migration. The question companies should be asking themselves is not whether they need the cloud to help them remain competitive, but how they will be able to function in a digital era without the cloud. It is the silver lining to take us beyond the blackout.

Share this article:
Share via emailShare via LinkedInPrint this page

Further reading:

Navigating the evolving tech landscape in 2024 and beyond
Residential Estate (Industry) Infrastructure
Progress in the fields of AI, VR and social media is to be expected, but what is not, is our fundamental relationship with how we deploy solutions in our business and how it integrates with greater organisational strategies and goals.

Using KPIs to measure smart city progress
Axis Communications SA Residential Estate (Industry) Integrated Solutions Security Services & Risk Management
United 4 Smart Sustainable Cities is a United Nations Initiative that encourages the use of information and communication technology (including security technology) to support a smooth transition to smart cities.

Enhancing estate security, the five-layer approach
Fang Fences & Guards Residential Estate (Industry) Integrated Solutions Security Services & Risk Management
Residential estates are designed to provide a serene and secure living environment enclosed within gated communities, offering residents peace of mind and an elevated standard of living.

Local manufacturing is still on the rise
Hissco Editor's Choice News & Events Security Services & Risk Management
HISSCO International, Africa's largest manufacturer of security X-ray products, has recently secured a multi-continental contract to supply over 55 baggage X-ray screening systems in 10 countries.

iOCO collaboration protection secures Office 365
Information Security Infrastructure
The cloud, in general, and Office 365, in particular, have played a significant role in enabling collaboration, but it has also created a security headache as organisations store valuable information on the platform.

Detecting humans within vehicles without opening the doors
Flow Systems News & Events Security Services & Risk Management
Flow Systems has introduced its new product, which detects humans trying to hide within a vehicle, truck, or container. Vehicles will be searched once they have stopped before one of Flow Systems' access control boom barriers.

Smart mining operations management
Mining (Industry) Infrastructure IoT & Automation
In his presentation at the recent MESA Africa conference, Neels van der Walt, Business Development Manager at Iritron, revealed the all-encompassing concept of SMOM (Smart Mining Operations Management) and why it is inextricably linked to the future of worldwide mining operations.

Cybercriminals embracing AI
Information Security Security Services & Risk Management
Organisations of all sizes are exploring how artificial intelligence (AI) and generative AI, in particular, can benefit their businesses. While they are still figuring out how best to use AI, cybercriminals have fully embraced it.

Do you need a virtual CIO?
Editor's Choice News & Events Infrastructure
If you have a CIO, rest assured that your competitors have noticed and will come knocking on their door sooner or later. A Virtual CIO service is a compelling solution for businesses navigating tough economic conditions.

The TCO of cloud surveillance
DeepAlert Verifier Technews Publishing Surveillance Infrastructure
SMART Security Solutions asked two successful, home-grown cloud surveillance operators for their take on the benefits of cloud surveillance to the local market. Does cloud do everything, or are there areas where onsite solutions are preferable?