The cloud technology is fast gaining ground in Kenya as more businesses understand the benefits the cloud brings to their operations. The use of cloud technology to build and access applications hosted on virtual servers is enabling entrepreneurs and developers to cut costs and time.
A regional competition for developers held last year by Microsoft saw 10 of the 12 spots go to Kenyan developers. The 12, competing against other developers in East and Southern Africa, won a six-month free use of Microsoft’s cloud platform, Azure.
Africa’s Talking Limited and Olive Technology Limited are two such enterprises that have embraced the cloud to build and manage their platforms.
Olivine Technology aims to provide solutions to SME’s by developing simpler and automated systems.
“By building and running our software on the cloud, we have been able to cut cost and improve efficiency of our system by between 40 and 60 percent,” says Mark Mwaura, Business Development Director
The budding software company has built a supply chain software that helps SME’s manage their sales and inventory in an efficient and seamless manner.
“A lot of SME’s lose massive man hours and money reconciling their records and tracking what they have sold. So we came up with software that will make it easier for small and middle businesses to manage their inventory,” explains Mwaura.
Building on the cloud
As a result of the need-assessment, Olivine came up with the Automated Sales Inventory Manager (ASIM), a software that is accessible on PC and mobile.
Olivine developed the system using Windows Azure and Google cloud. This allowed the company to find a less-expensive platform of running the software which demands huge data traffic.
Joseph Karanja, Director of Sales and Marketing at Olivine says the pay-back-period of using the cloud is less than one year. The alternative would require SME’s to heavily invest in hardware servers and other directly related costs such as IT administrator and server rooms.
“The uptime is 99.9 percent which is really important when running such an operation. You cannot afford to have frequent downtimes,” says Karanja.
ASIM is especially useful for the Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) industry. Samchi Telecommunications, one of the largest airtime resellers in the country, is using ASIM to interconnect its 55 branches, while Pwani Cellular is using the software to track stock and sales in its four sites.
Africa’s Talking has also built its bulk SMS service on the cloud. Dubbed SMSLeopard, the service is an email approach to bulk and single SMS where users can send and receive SMS’s via an email system.
“With the inbox feature, recipients can reply to SMS’s and they get picked onto an inbox. That way, people receiving large amounts of SMS’s can respond to them from an online platform,” says Teddy Warria, Partner at Africa Talking.
Flexible and scalable
Teddy says hosting the service on the cloud has helped them sort out the issue of scalability.
“We can access higher bandwidth or storage in case of sudden upsurge of users. In addition, we also don’t worry about backup of data since the resources available to us ensure redundancy in back up.”
“In case one server in the cloud crashes a mirror server with same information is availed immediately,” explains Teddy.
The SMSLeopard service offers SME’s a cheaper and effective way of marketing their products and services. 95 percent of SMS’s are read within 4 minutes compared to regular emails.
As more Kenyan companies leverage on the power and flexibility of cloud technology, home-grown solutions will be easier to build and maintain.