Cloud computing may be sweeping the world for its advantages of reduced hardware investment, lower maintenance, ease of provisioning and reduced costs, but the connectivity has to be very good, or it does not work.
Great strides in infrastructure have been made across
A Zimbabwean company, with a central head office and POS points around the country, does not stop its business when connectivity goes down for any reason. This is because it is equipped with a POS solution that seamlessly transitions from online, connected mode, to offline mode. All the till operator knows is that an onscreen green button goes red.
When the connectivity is restored, the system continues to synchronize back to the head office, transmitting any accumulated data together with current information.
It works so well offline that the till operators purposefully disconnect the terminals, as they work faster in offline mode when connectivity is poor; reconnecting at the end of the day.
In comparison, if this company had 100 points of sale, the 'old' way of doing things would require each to be equipped with a full onsite solution, including a server, all connecting back to a 'mother ship' central server at the head office.
That is expensive and not only because of the cost of the equipment but also in terms of maintenance which, in
Cloud solutions offer savings
A cloud solution, by contrast, allows inexpensive off-the-shelf hardware to be used, with most maintenance and support done centrally or remotely. It also allows new offices to be set up far faster, as the terminals in a new premises have an agent installed on them and then simply access the existing server-side solution.
So if it is such a good idea, shouldn't every system be like that?
The answer is yes, absolutely, especially for use in African countries or elsewhere connectivity is poor or patchy. However, the limiting factor achieving this is, from a technical point of view, very difficult. It is far easier to have a 'one or the other' architecture, that is, either cloud or onsite and that is what most vendors offer.
However, the bottom line is that in
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