Burgeoning cloud ecosystem provides a niche for every company
South Africa’s cloud-based infrastructure is growing rapidly, aided by a wave of new infrastructure providers targeting resellers.
This means, said Cloud on Demand Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Kropf that cloud-based solutions are now a viable option for businesses of all sizes.
“At the enterprise level most businesses have the resources to manage their own cloud-based infrastructure,” said Kropf, “but IT departments in small and medium enterprises are running thin in terms of resources and skills.
“At Cloud on Demand we’re building a cloud platform that resellers, who know their own clients best, can use to build and offer solutions that fit the specific needs of their own market.”
Warren Olivier, South Africa regional corporate account manager for virtualisation backup solution provider Veeam Software, said the move is in line with a broader shift in the role of distributors and resellers.
He said: “It’s increasingly clear that just selling hardware and software is no longer a viable business model. The box-dropping era is over. The reseller’s biggest asset is now their relationship with their customer, and their ability to function as a trusted advisor.”
The advisory role is especially important because moving systems into the cloud requires specific skill set, added Olivier.
"Moving into the cloud is not a one-off action -- once you've moved you need to pay attention to ongoing maintenance, support, management and optimisation, and this is where distributors and resellers can add real value," he said.
Kropf said this is exactly the market Cloud on Demand is targeting. “Two years ago it was all hype and wouldn’t have made sense, but things have moved very fast,” he said.
“The cloud is now a reality and resellers need to adapt. But most of them are not in a position to build their own data centres, and they shouldn’t have to – their core skill is in crafting solutions for their customers, not running servers and storage networks.”
Cloud on Demand provides all the physical and virtual infrastructure resellers need to build tailored cloud solutions for their customers, said Kropf, including Veeam Backup and Replication.
“Veeam helps our clients take full advantage of all the benefits of cloud computing,” said Kropf. “It’s more reliable, because every backup is fully tested and files or even entire servers can be restored instantly.”
In future, said Kropf, Cloud on Demand will also take advantage of Veeam’s ability to create “lab on demand” sandboxed development environtments.
“It’s one of the biggest unintended benefits of Veeam backups,” he said. “You can use a Veeam backup of a virtual server to create a clone of that server in a safe, isolated environment for testing new software on.
“There’s zero risk if anything goes wrong – and because you’re testing on a clone of your real server there will be no surprises when you go live. We’re looking forward to offering this ability to our customers.”
5 minutes with... Janthana Kaenprakhamroy, CEO, Tapoly
Founder and CEO of award-winning insurtech firm Tapoly, Janthana Kaenprakhamroy heads up Europe’s first on-demand insurance platform for the gig economy, winning industry awards, innovating in the digital insurance space, and leading with inclusivity.
Here, Business Chief talks to Janthana about her leadership style and skills.
What do you do, in a nutshell?
I’m founder and CEO of Tapoly, a digital MGA providing a full stack of commercial lines insurance specifically for SMEs and freelancers, as well as a SaaS solution to connect insurers with their distribution partners. We build bespoke, end-to-end platforms encompassing the whole customer journey, but can also integrate our APIs within existing systems. We were proud to win Insurance Provider of the Year at the British Small Business Awards 2018 and receive silver in the Insurtech category at the Efma & Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2019.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I try to be as inclusive a leader as possible. I’m committed to creating space for everyone to shine. Many of the roles at Tapoly are performed by women and I speak at industry events to encourage more people to get involved in insurance/insurtech. Similarly, I always try to maintain a growth mindset. I think it’s important to retain values to support learning and development, like reliability, working hard and punctuality.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
Build your network and seek advice. As a leader, you need smart people around you to help you grow your business. It’s not about personally being the best, but being able to find resources and get help where needed.
How do you see leadership changing in a COVID world?
I think the pandemic has proven the importance of inclusive leadership so that everyone feels supported and valued. It’s also shown the importance of being flexible as a leader. We’ve had to remain adaptable to continue delivering high levels of customer service. This flexibility has also been important when supporting employees as everyone has had individual pressures to deal with during this time. Leaders should continue to embed this flexibility within their organisations moving forward.
They say ‘from every crisis comes opportunity’, what opportunities do you see?
The past year has been challenging, but it has also proven the importance of digital transformation in insurance. When working from home was required, it was much harder for insurers to adjust who had not embedded technology within their operating processes because they did not have data stored in the cloud and it caused communication delays with concerned customers at a time when this communication should have been a priority, which ultimately impacts the level of customer satisfaction. This demonstrates the importance of what we are trying to achieve at Tapoly in driving digitalisation in insurance and making communication between insurers and distribution partners seamless.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
Start sooner, don’t be afraid to take (calculated) risks and make sure you raise enough money to get you through the initial seed stage.