By Louis Koen

Published 6 December 2018

Ethiopia was experiencing such a dreadful famine roughly three decades ago that the whole world came to their aid. The east African country overcame that part of their history and for the past 10 years have managed to maintain economic growth of around 8 – 10%. In comparison, South Africa announced GDP growth of 2.2% during the third quarter of 2018. And although it’s an improvement, let’s be honest, with second quarter figures being a lowly 0.4%, we don’t really have reason to celebrate.

Add into the mix, the additional strain of Eskom doing load shedding and the outlook is looking very bleak for SMBs who are battling the bulge of growing bills.  And while employees are happy to relax while Eskom switches off the power, to do their maintenance, business owners are lying awake at night worrying about the effect load shedding is having on their financial statements.

SMBs in the professional services industry have a few options to dramatically minimize the effect that load shedding has on their productivity.

  1. Dust off, or buy/rent, a generator

If you did purchase a generator a couple of years ago, check whether you still have the petrol stash you kept on standby. Since petrol evaporates, you might have a lot less than you remember. The alternative is to spend a couple of thousand Rands worth of capital on a generator of your own. You can rent one, but by the time you’ve organized it, the power could be on again.

  1. Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS)

Desktop users will benefit from having a UPS in the office. It’s difficult to say, without detail such the capacity of the UPS vs the load it experiences, for how long the PCs will stay on. Companies that did purchase UPSs, should remember that UPSs are essentially massive batteries and just like a cellphone’s battery, they become less effective over time. Test your UPS to ensure it’s still effective in getting you through your allotted power cut. UPSs, although effective in short burst of power outages, are a capital outlay that most SMBs won’t appreciate.

  1. Subscribe to Office 365

If your company subscribes to Office 365, clients no longer need to hear the explanation that something couldn’t be done because the electricity was off. This product from Microsoft is easy to access from any device if you have an internet connection, whether it be ADSL, Fibre or a cellular network. You can access your email and documents either via a secure web browser, or, on one of the five devices you installed the application on. It means employees will always have a way to continue working. It might not be on the device they are accustomed to, and it might look a little different, if they are using the web browser, but everything they need will still be there so that life can go on.

  1. Implement Azure Site Recovery

SMBs who have multiple branches and access their own data centre have a problem that is two-fold: they must consider load shedding at the branch and the location of the data centre – a double whammy that decreases productivity further. Azure Site Recovery (ASR) replicates your on-premises data in the cloud allowing you to access mission critical data and applications while a power cut is happening. It takes minutes to spin up the recovery server so that you can continue as if nothing has happened. ASR takes redundancy to the next level. Your data is stored in a region of your choice (Microsoft’s SA data centre opening is imminent), you’re only paying for the service while the server is switched on, and it’s a cost-effective solution that allows for the servicing of clients while your competitors are twiddling their thumbs.

Most SMBs want to avoid capital expenditure on items that won’t see an increase in the value of the item. With Office 365 and ASR, you won’t be spending capital, you’re only paying for what you need right now and it’s a secure solution that better protects who can view company critical information.

Microsoft has always made use of partners to sell to and service their customers. With the advent of the cloud, SMBs should look for Microsoft Partners who has gold status in competencies related to the cloud such as Small and Midmarket Cloud Solutions. These partners will have resources available to guide SMBs through this relatively new way of handling Microsoft licensing and site recovery.

If you’re been thinking about migrating to the cloud, but have some concerns, Crimson Line will share our knowledge with you, or your IT team, to ensure the success of the project. Perhaps Eskom is actually doing SMBs a favour by forcing them to consider a different way of working?

As a side note, do you know what the crimson line is? It’s the line that appears on the horizon of the earth at dawn when looking at earth from space. Our name encapsulates an ethos of foresight and optimism. We were established in 1998 and have been servicing clients in the professional services industry for 2 decades. We’ve also done over 4000 user migrations for Western Cape and national clients.