The emerging concept of ‘Everything as a Service’ (XaaS) is set to revolutionise IT offerings in South Africa. Implementation of XaaS makes advanced technologies and solutions more cost-effective and available to a broader spectrum of business.

While concerns around the security of data within service-based solutions remain, an effectively implemented service model can be in most instances more secure than traditional IT. Organisations simply need to ensure they obtain the right ‘as-a-service’ offering from the right provider and maintain adequate control over their technology portfolio.

The most significant benefit of the XaaS model is the fact that it enables businesses to access the most advanced technologies available worldwide. In South and Southern Africa in particular, many businesses fall into the Small to Medium Enterprise (SME) category and are extremely budget-conscious. Obtaining the latest hardware and software in-house, as well as sourcing and retaining the skills required to maintain it is simply not viable for the vast majority of the market. With a service model, however, it is possible to immediately access leading technologies, affordably. Other benefits include greater agility and flexibility as well as a more cost-effective pay-per-use fee structure.

Another advantage of the XaaS model in the African context is the fact that it minimises the amount of physical equipment that needs to be secured and maintained. Unfortunately, theft is not uncommon, and hardware is often the target. Making use of,  a cloud-based technology provider mitigates the risk of securing on-premise hardware and the sensitive data it may contain.

To mitigate any other security concerns that a business may have, it is essential to engage with a well-known and reputable provider. For example, providers with high profile clients within the financial services industry means that their services will already be subject to the most stringent security and compliance requirements. Some global cloud providers also offer a sovereign cloud service, which is ringfenced within the borders of specific countries, to meet legislative and compliance requirements.

By conducting due diligence to obtain the correct services from a reputable provider, the service model is likely to be far more secure than an in-house solution. Businesses have access to more features and more advanced technologies and can benefit from global best practices. These global providers stake their reputation on delivering secure services, and businesses will benefit from the investment made into security. In addition, a reputable provider will offer well-designed solutions, something which the majority of organisations in Africa simply do not have the skill sets and capabilities to achieve. The XaaS model offers a significant step forward for emerging markets.

Obtaining solutions through a service model does not absolve organisations of ultimate responsibility for security. It is up to them to apply a  good solution design within their environment, and that the solutions delivered meet their business, security and compliance requirements.

In summary, to leverage the full benefit of XaaS, organisations need to do their homework. This includes finding a vendor with a solid track record and experience implementing XaaS. Your chosen vendor should make use of cloud services from leading global providers and be able to tailor a solution to meet your needs, including ensuring security and compliance objectives. It is then essential to monitor these services and solutions. Businesses must maintain responsibility for their data regardless of the delivery mechanism of their IT services and solutions.