In developing these digital hoarding instincts, the big technology companies are more than a little complicit.

Cape Town - There’s nothing up in the air about “cloud computing”, a technological innovation taking the business world by storm – and which experts in information and communications technology (ICT) believe offers many potential benefits.

The system allows devices such as computers, tablets and smartphones access to virtual services and next-generation technology, with minimal costs.

For the technophobic, an easy explanation of how cloud computing works likens it to the way in which South Africans currently enjoy utilities such as water and electricity from a shared central base, with costs shared among users.

The advance will also allow businesses to establish infrastructure with little or no hassle, still gaining maximum benefits.

Aldo van Tonder, chief executive of enterprise project management specialists FOXit, believes the infrastructure benefit is the main drawcard of cloud computing.

“The major costs behind setting up your infrastructure, like hardware and licences, are no longer a stumbling block and, because of this, I see the adoption rate of newer technology definitely increasing,” he said.

Some concerns about the practice have, however, been raised, including by

Steve Ballmer, chief executive of Microsoft, who said at the London School of Economics that the drive to cloud could lead to job losses of between 10 and 15 percent in the worldwide job market.

“Because of this fear factor, I highly doubt that a lot of CIOs (chief information officers) will be able to be impartial about the move.”

His second point was the legal and security issues.

“Here, once again, the CIO will look to their teams in this regard to help advise. Once again, you sit with the same problem that they will struggle to be unbiased because it is literally their jobs at stake.”

Damian Nelson, national sales manager of FOXit, said moving on to the cloud could not be about cost-saving exclusively.

“It needs to be about driving the value in the business which, unlike cost, has no limit if done properly.

“If your company has large data centres, or even small data centres, you have already invested in infrastructure, licences, manpower to manage all of it.”

Another local ICT expert believes there is a need for better understanding of cloud computing before businesses can decide whether or not to implement the system.

Robert Sussman, joint chief executive of internet solutions company Intergr8, says there are two kinds of cloud computing – private and public clouds.

“Public clouds can be linked to popular online business systems such as Google Apps, Office 365 and Rackspace, allowing users access to vast storage facilities. Private clouds use the same infrastructure, yet allocate specific hardware to specific functions.”

Sussman believes private cloud computing is the best option for businesses, with five distinct advantages – focusing information technology on business, greater economies of scale, smarter support resources, guaranteed uptime and hassle-free upgrades.

“These factors are what see many companies even considering cloud computing in the first place. It allows agility at a reasonable cost, allowing us to launch new products, new features, and the ability to meet a growing demand,” he said. - Weekend Argus