[Column] Nixon Kanali: Moving to the cloud can help African business stay secure from cyber threats

A few years back I got the chance to attend the East African Cloud Summit organized by the University of Nairobi’s C4DLab in collaboration with Microsoft. The summit was on Cloud Computing and how it can be used to improve societal growth and transformation.

One of the panellists present during the summit was Dr.Bitange Ndemo, a former Permanent Secretary in the ministry of ICT who is currently heading a 10-member taskforce on blockchain and artificial intelligence in Kenya. Dr. Ndemo spoke widely on Cloud and why most African organisations and even SMEs are still scared of moving into Cloud. He said most of these companies feel unsafe with their data being in the Cloud since they believe that with the data being in the Cloud they will be sharing it with other people.

Dr.Ndemo also noted that most of these organizations lack information about the importance of moving to the cloud. I remember asking the panel what needs to be done to convince these organizations or SMEs that the cloud is an indeed a safe place store their data, and Dr.Ndemo joked that the only thing that can be done is pray for them. Well, one thing was clear though, more awareness and facts need to be given to these organisations. One thing they emphasized on is that moving into the Cloud is not about sharing, it’s about accessibility.

Moving to the cloud can help businesses secure from cybercrime threats. In an interview I once had with Kaspersky Lab Channel Sales Manager for East Africa, Bethwel Opil, on the State of cybersecurity in the country, it was evident that there were so many gaps to be filled. Most organizations are not investing in this sector. Its either they don’t have the personnel or don’t even care at all. The cloud could help them fill these gaps and stay secure from online threats.

With the threat of cyber-crime and insider fraud on the rise, Kenyan companies should be looking towards cloud applications as one means of improving the security of their IT environments. In their experience, Bethwel Opil said CIOs and/or CISOs are starting to understand how serious cybercrime is becoming in Kenya, and the realities around cybercrime and the impact it can have on a business – not only from a data loss point of view but also from a reputational one. Kenyan organizations are wrestling with the growing danger posed by threats such as malware, hackers, and theft of computing devices.

The cost of cybercrimes is mounting, Cloud computing improves IT security and security professionals and African organisations need as much help as possible. Cloud helps security operations respond quicker to threats helping organisations to focus on business risk as opposed to spending thousands of hours researching threats.

Cybercriminals are becoming very skilled and are placing a strong focus on the business market, given the financial gain it can offer them. Ransomware that targets businesses, for example, is becoming more widespread and more sophisticated. Cybersecurity is therefore not an issue that only IT people should take into consideration. The reality is that it concerns everyone – consumers, home users and their families, small businesses and large organisations, including governments.

Moving to the cloud should, therefore, be a top priority for African organisations.

Nixon Kanali is the Tech Editor for the African Business Communities

[Column] Ade Famoti: Autonomous IT, empowering business to be its best

In Kenya, cloud is no longer just a possibility, it is the fundamental tool igniting innovation

Cloud computing is rapidly becoming an essential component of business transformation. In Kenya, cloud is no longer just a possibility, it is the fundamental tool igniting innovation. At a high level, cloud is an economiser, requiring no massive start-up costs before results can be realised. Cloud is also an enabler: the very best technologies, ready to be put to work to help organisations innovate and differentiate.

But as technology has become essential to the operation of modern business, and complex, organisations such as banks, retailers and many others have found that to be leaders within their chosen fields, they have also had to become exceptional in terms of their understanding and use of technology.

Take banking as an example. A bank’s core purpose is to be the best bank it can possibly be, not to run the best ‘tech-shop’. The thing is, over time, banks have become ever more reliant on technology to enable that purpose.

And as that dependency has grown, so their requirement for staff to manage that technology has grown. This has resulted in the creation of sizeable groups of staff who are dedicated to servicing technology in the back end, rather than servicing customers. But customers don’t choose a bank because it has the best possible back-end technology. They come because it offers the best products combined with the best customer service.

That vision of being the best possible bank might be powered by technology, but it is the technology at the front end that makes the biggest impact in the eyes of the customer – and you can’t invest in front-end systems if most of your resources are devoted to maintaining systems at the back-end.

New wave of technology

Perhaps it is time that we let organisations get back to focusing on what they are best at – be that retailing, banking, or whatever their core mission is – and leave technology to look after itself.

It sounds like a fantasy, but it is the promise made by the newest wave of business technology innovation – autonomous technology. Combining the power of artificial intelligence and machine learning, autonomous technology delivers the capability for IT systems to self-manage, self-repair and self-secure across a wide range of functions and applications.

Let’s take a step back to understand the concept of machine learning. While machine learning itself can be unduly complex, the basic ideas are easy to grasp. Let’s use the example of a business process both familiar and highly important to most organisations: selecting and on-boarding job candidates.

The basic components would start with a training data set: a complete history of all candidates selected and hired, their key attributes, how they were on-boarded, and their eventual performance in the organisation. Next, an analysis engine would extract key features that contributed to candidates’ success and create a recommendation engine that would rate new applicants and their likelihood to thrive at the organisation.

So far, this scenario is somewhat similar to data analytics, except that the algorithms decide which factors matter and which ones do not. Machine learning goes one step further. It processes ongoing results of those candidates, and continually updates its recommendation engine rules over time.

It learns from actual experience, and thus it makes better decisions over time. Think of adaptive intelligence as data-driven learning at vastly increased speeds compared with humans.

When applied in a database, autonomous technology can not only automate the process of cleansing and organising data, it can also ensure patches are applied and the data is secured. And when applied in a data warehouse, autonomous technology can interrogate data to find correlations and patterns across structured and unstructured data, and then present these as insights back to business users.

This is not a vision of the future, it is a capability that Oracle is making available to the market now. And it can do all of this with minimal human intervention.

Remove complexity, add value

The key difference with autonomous technology is that it eliminates complexity.

This frees people from performing many of the tedious tasks associated with managing backend technology, allowing them to focus on tasks that will make a real difference to their organisation and their customers.

As technologies such as AI, machine learning and intelligent process automation become more widely available, finance leaders want to know: How can these technologies help me in my business?

At Oracle, we are embedding intelligent digital assistants into our products and applications. In finance departments, digital assistants can perform similar functions to automate repetitive processes that consume employee hours – time that could be better spent on higher-level tasks such as faster decision-making and architecting a new financial strategy. Soon you’re going to see digital assistants help your organisation speed up financial year end, manage budgets, and perform financial forecasting. When viewed from an organisation-wide perspective, autonomous technology means getting back to focusing on what the organisation does best, safe in the knowledge that the technology is taking care of itself. So we can finally let organisations get back to doing what they do best. Ade Famoti is the Director, Sales Strategy & Business Development – Africa at Oracle

Managed services model accelerates in Africa

No longer just a buzzword, cloud has become a hot commodity and organisations are migrating based on the benefits.

More and more businesses across Africa are making the move towards cloud and subsequently, managed services. No longer just a buzzword, the cloud has become a hot commodity and organisations are migrating based on the benefits. In fact, according to Pieter Potgieter, Senior Manager: Commercial Operations at Britehouse, the African market is at a point where there is no hesitation and uncertainty around cloud, rather businesses are embracing its adoption to help them grow.

“This is driving businesses to adopt more of a menu-focused model – using and paying for only what they need – and adopting a managed service approach to bring everything together,” says Potgieter. “As a specialist IT consultancy that focuses on the implementation, development, hosting and management of SAP software-based solutions, Britehouse have created a flexible, secure, high performance platform for delivering hosted SAP applications as a managed service to businesses throughout Africa, using SUSE.” 

Open source has become an integral part of the technology strategy of any business. The rise of cloud computing, big data, and even social networking has seen open source being recognised as the way of the future. Potgieter agrees: “We are certainly seeing a positive construct when it comes to open source and SUSE. The adoption market has matured quite a bit and businesses are less worried about previous perceived open source pitfalls and rather see it now as a robust, secure and cost-effective hosting platform – especially when packaged into an enterprise solution.”

Business are also looking to modernize their application infrastructure and traditional monolithic platforms are not part of digital transformation and as a result, many businesses are re-evaluating their infrastructure priorities. “Clients are looking for stability, performance, service and security – and we believe SUSE meets these requirements,” adds Potgieter.

SUSE offers far higher performance and lower total cost of ownership. SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications, a leading Linux platform, optimised and resilient for SAP applications and databases, also uses less system resources and is more stable – keeping hardware costs low, while enabling high availability. Customers also benefit from economies of scale, getting a solution that would cost them much more to set up and run themselves.

“Better stability, peace of mind and improved service level are just some of the benefits African businesses are reaping from a managed service offering,” says Potgieter. “Additionally, with the skills gap hitting businesses hard, businesses want to be able to use the skills they have and apply them to more strategic areas of the business and this allows them to do exactly that. We see a very real merger of software and infrastructure as a service and a desperate need for the successful collaboration of these elements at a managed service level.”

“The current siloed-approach to infrastructure slows innovation and hinders go-to market strategies for companies, and this negatively impacts growth plans. As a result, companies are increasingly turning to solution providers to manage infrastructure, software and all things cloud related. However, to thrive in the digital era, businesses must act on opportunities and solve problems more quickly than ever before. They must innovate relentlessly and respond to customers, partners, and employees at light speed. Agility is the name of the game and SUSE allows business to unlock data intelligence, drive innovation and run with the best,” concludes Grant Bennett, Country Manager for SUSE South Africa & Sub-Saharan Africa.

www.suse.com

www.britehouse.co.za

IBM Expands its AI and Cloud Technology for Agriculture to Africa and other global markets

For the first time, IBM says it is providing a global agriculture solution that combines predictive technology with data from The Weather Company, an IBM Business, and IoT data to help give farmers around the world greater insights about planning, ploughing, planting, spraying and harvesting.

IBM has announced that it is expanding its Watson Decision Platform for Agriculture, with AI and cloud technology tailored for new crops to Africa and other markets around the world. For the first time, IBM says it is providing a global agriculture solution that combines predictive technology with data from The Weather Company, an IBM Business, and IoT data to help give farmers around the world greater insights about planning, ploughing, planting, spraying and harvesting.

By 2050, the world will need to feed two billion more people without an increase of arable land. IBM is combining power weather data – including historical, current and forecast data and weather prediction models from The Weather Company – with crop models to help improve yield forecast accuracy, generate value, and increase both farm production and profitability.

New crop models include corn, wheat, soy, cotton, sorghum, barley, sugar cane and potato, with more coming soon. These models will now be available in new markets across Africa, Europe, and Australia. It will also be available in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and Brazil.

“These days farmers don’t just farm food, they also cultivate data – from drones flying over fields to smart irrigation systems, and IoT sensors affixed to combines, seeders, sprayers and other equipment,” said Kristen Lauria, general manager of Watson Media and Weather Solutions, IBM. “Most of the time, this data is left on the vine — never analyzed or used to derive insights. Watson Decision Platform for Agriculture aims to change that by offering tools and solutions to help growers make more informed decisions about their crops.”

The average farm generates an estimated 500,000 data points per day, which will grow to 4 million data points by 2036. Applying AI and analysis to aggregated field, machine and environmental data can help improve shared insights between growers and enterprises across the agriculture ecosystem. With a better view of the fields, growers can see what’s working on certain farms and share best practices with other farmers.

The platform assesses data in an electronic field record to identify and communicate crop management patterns and insights. Enterprise businesses such as food companies, grain processors, or produce distributors can then work with farmers to leverage those insights. It helps track crop yield as well as the environmental, weather and plant biologic conditions that go into a good or bad yield, such as irrigation management, pest and disease risk analysis and cohort analysis for comparing similar subsets of fields.

The result isn’t just more productive farmers. Watson Decision Platform for Agriculture could help a livestock company eliminate a certain mold or fungus from feed supply grains or help identify the best crop irrigation practices for farmers to use in drought-stricken areas like California. It could help deliver the perfect French fry for a fast food chain that needs longer – not fatter – potatoes from its network of growers. Or it could help a beer distributor produce a more affordable premium beer by growing higher quality barley that meets the standard required to become malting barley.

Watson Decision Platform for Agriculture is built on IBM PAIRS Geoscope from IBM Research, which quickly processes massive, complex geospatial and time-based datasets collected by satellites, drones, aerialflights, millions of IoT sensors and weather models. It crunches large, complex data and creates insights quickly and easily so farmers and food companies can focus on growing crops for global communities.

IBM and The Weather Company help the agriculture industry find value in weather insights. IBM Research collaborates with startup Hello Tractor to integrate The Weather Companydata, remote sensing data (e.g., satellite), and IoT data from tractors. IBM also works with crop nutrition leader Yara to include hyperlocal weather forecasts in its digital platform for real-time recommendations, tailored to specific fields or crops.

IBM acquired The Weather Company in 2016 and has since been helping clients better understand and mitigate the cost of weather on their businesses. The global expansion of Watson Decision Platform for Agriculture is the latest innovation in IBM’s efforts to make weather a more predictable business consideration. Also just announced, Weather Signals is a new AI-based tool that merges The Weather Company data with a company’s own operations data to reveal how minor fluctuations in weather affects business.

The combination of rich weather forecast data from The Weather Company and IBM’s AI and Cloud technologies is designed to provide a unique capability, which is being leveraged by agriculture, energy and utility companies, airlines, retailers and many others to make informed business decisions.

www.ibm.com

SEACOM adds eight new PoPs across Africa for more African businesses to connect to worldwide cloud facilities

The PoPS will also enable the businesses to connect to the continent’s first Microsoft Azure data centres, in Johannesburg and Cape Town.

Pan-African Internet and connectivity service provider SEACOM is adding eight new Points of Presence (PoPs) across Africa to enable more African businesses to connect to cloud facilities worldwide. The PoPS will also enable the businesses to connect to the continent’s first Microsoft Azure data centres, in Johannesburg and Cape Town.  

In Kenya, SEACOM has extended its presence in the brand-new icolo data centre in Mombasa. This full-service facility acts as an on-ramp to SEACOM’s resilient network, providing better support to service provider and enterprise customers in the country. It offers both premium IP/MPLS and transmission services from this new PoP.

SEACOM’s Mombasa PoP is also significant as it connects Kenya’s first truly open-access data centre onto the SEACOM open-access data network. Rare in the region, in comparison to operator-owned data centres, these carrier-neutral facilities encourage competition in the local ICT sphere, helping to increase cloud-based service offerings for customers while driving down costs.  

SEACOM has similar plans for new open-access PoPs that are coming in Nairobi and Kampala. In preparation for higher demand and expanded services to business customers in the region, SEACOM has upgraded its backhaul connecting Mombasa to these new PoPs to include four separate and resilient routes.

In South Africa, SEACOM is deploying a new PoP within the carrier neutral Teraco Bredell data centre. Robert Marston, Global Head of Product at SEACOM, explains, “This new facility is a key location, catering specifically to content providers and enterprise customers. It will also serve as an important data recovery site for many operators.”

Although it already owns Africa’s most extensive international ICT data infrastructure, SEACOM says it is continually investing in strategic upgrades and expanding its PoP footprint within Africa. The company’s recent acquisition of FibreCo has added more than 60 network nodes across its South African network – including six core PoPs in major metros – vastly extending its reach. Internationally, SEACOM is the only African carrier to cover all five of the largest exchange points in Europe (London, Frankfort, Stockholm, Amsterdam and Marseille), in addition to Mumbai.

SEACOM’s PoPs are key to the provider’s direct access offerings, which bypass the public Internet in connecting company networks to digital business solutions. The standard-setting service sees line rates reach from 100 Mbps up to 100 Gigabits per second. By connecting onto a SEACOM PoP that is in closer proximity to their core business sites, customers can experience the SEACOM network’s speed and reliability with more convenience, and generally less cost.

Marston concludes, “The moves that SEACOM is making to improve our infrastructure on the continent will benefit African companies with greater high-speed, reliable and secure connectivity to cloud services and other online tools. One of our major objectives is to add simplicity to cloud migrations wherever possible.”

www.seacom.mu

Vodafone Egypt bets on Nokia’s cloud based Subscriber Data Management solution to bolster operations

 Nokia is deploying a cloud-based Subscriber Data Management (SDM) solution that enables Vodafone Egypt to offer innovative services to its 4G customers.

 The deployment, under the Spring SDM project, helps Egypt’s largest service provider to continue transforming its operations around telco cloud technology.

The adoption of Nokia’s Telco Cloud Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) helps Vodafone Egypt scale its network to meet unprecedented increases in data traffic while simplifying its operational model. The Nokia SDM solution is currently used for other applications, such as Mobile Number Portability (MNP) and Equipment Identity Register (EIR).

Nokia also provides cloud integration and implementation services to enable a smooth transition to the SDM solution.

 The deployment is a significant step in the complete transformation of Vodafone Egypt’s network to continue providing the best-in-class services to its subscribers.

In addition, by deploying Nokia Registers, Vodafone Egypt is able to manage its subscriber data and authentication from a centralized location and across all technologies regardless of whether they are fixed or mobile.

This leads to better network efficiency and faster, smoother introduction of new services. As a result, Vodafone Egypt is able to maintain its leadership position while significantly reducing the time-to-market for the launch of new services.

Osama Said, CTO at Vodafone Egypt, said: “This deployment is a testimony of our strong and enduring relationship with Nokia. Nokia’s proven SDM solution is enabling us to enhance efficiency by consolidating subscriber data across various networks. This is one of the earliest applications over the cloud and is not only helping us by offering a superior experience to our customers but also by simplifying our operational model.”

Sharaf ElDin Mohamed, Head of the Vodafone Egypt Customer Team at Nokia, said: “This is a significant deployment for us and underlines our capabilities in telco cloud and SDM technology. We are excited to help Vodafone Egypt deliver improved customer experience and innovative services, which enables the operator to improve customer loyalty and maintain its leadership position in the industry.”

www.vodafone.com.eg

www.nokia.com

[Column] Christine Ambetsa: Data Security; embracing autonomy and intelligent machines

The National Cybersecurity Centre (NCC) detected over 3.8 million cyber threats between July and September 2018 according to the Communications Authority of Kenya’s first quarter sector statistics report for 2018/19.

CIOs are operating in a state of heightened awareness. Their mission-critical systems are increasingly under threat from constantly evolving viruses and hacks, making it tougher than ever to defend the lifeblood of their business – data.

The National Cybersecurity Centre (NCC) detected over 3.8 million cyber threats between July and September 2018 according to the Communications Authority of Kenya’s first quarter sector statistics report for 2018/19. The cyber threats detected varied from denial-of-service (DOS) including botnet and brute-force attacks that led to denial of computer services and illegal access to computer systems, online impersonation via social media accounts and domain names, malware including phishing attacks and online abuse including online fraud to name a few.

Unsurprisingly, nearly a third of Kenyan CIOs state that their key focus area is advanced security solutions, the second highest priority listed after disaster recovery and business continuity.¹

Security is hard

Simply put, security is hard. Much of it comes down to the way IT has evolved – as an open environment. For years, people and businesses have purchased disparate products, disparate servers, disparate operating systems and disparate databases and then connected them all together. The unintended and unfortunate result is that lots and lots of individual pathways have been opened up in the corporate system.

As a result, what’s sprung up around these corporate systems is a cyberspace battlefield, in which nobody is safe. Even IT professionals are combatants on that battlefield, tasked to make the right security choice every day, because if you don’t, you’re putting the future of the business at risk.

Adding even greater significance to the security mandate today is the advanced and persistent nature of today’s threats. Malicious actors are seemingly always one-step ahead and in order for enterprise security forces to do their job, they must exercise constant vigilance and innovation.

So how can businesses move forward with confidence and continue to build their data assets, while at the same time facing up to the barrage of security threats?

A new kind of defence

The answer is a new kind of defence; one that pits machine against machine so that organisations have a nearly impenetrable barrier to protect their data and their cloud.

Hackers are already wise to the power of letting machines do the work. Right now, for many organisations this battle takes the form of their malicious bots versus your people trying to defend from inside the business. But in this scenario of machine versus man, which do you think is faster? Who do you think will win?

To give your business a fighting chance in protecting its data, you need a defence system that’s completely automated, and even autonomous. With autonomous data management, database threats can be discovered automatically and then repaired. No human beings are involved. Patches are immediately applied while the database is running, which means you don’t need to wait around to find a window of downtime. This is essential for protecting your data on-premise and in the cloud.

Security in the cloud

The current state of cloud defence, in many cases, is just not good enough – not even close. The smartest technology companies are routinely penetrated, as we’ve seen in the unending stream of media stories about businesses having vast quantities of their data stolen. Even the most security-conscious government agencies are also vulnerable.

And because organisations don’t exist in isolation protection is needed both within the company and without. So, the cloud/s they run on also need robust cyber defences using the latest artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies; to find threats and kill them; to search and destroy. Again, the only way to win is to make the battle robots versus robots. It’s the only way to protect the cloud infrastructure without having both hands tied behind your back.

The good news is that the government intends to focus on emerging technologies such as blockchain, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud solutions and data analytics; this pronounced focus will be a key driver for the local ICT market according to the IDC’s Kenya Enterprise ICT Market Outlook for 2018 and 2019.

Time to let machines take the lead

We’re already seeing some companies turning to use systems like the autonomous database for better protection – and without the additional overheads.

Take National Pharmacies, an Australian pharmacy chain, for instance. The company has to be able to move its data at speed for life-saving insights, but needs autonomous capabilities to keep protecting its database without human intervention; as it can’t risk loosening any security or privacy practices at any point.

So, with attacks becoming more frequent, and attackers getting smarter and businesses data more vulnerable, it’s time to let machines take the lead on the cybersecurity battlefield. In doing so, companies will then have at their disposal, the most advanced tools in order to fight – and win – against the most advanced threats.

Christine Ambetsa is the Regional Applications Sales Leader – East Africa at Oracle

Alibaba Cloud expands offerings for EMEA partners

Alibaba Cloud, the cloud computing and data intelligence arm of Alibaba Group, has announced that an additional nine partners have joined its EMEA Ecosystem Partner Program.

Introduced last year, the program was developed to strengthen the collaboration between Alibaba Cloud’s customers and partners in Europe, Middle East and Africa. Alibaba Cloud has also furthered its commitment in nurturing young talents in cloud computing and big data by partnering with French local universities. 
The announcements were made at Alibaba Cloud Partner Summit, held during the VivaTech show in Paris.

The new partners on board of the program include Cloud Temple, Equinix, EVA Group, Groupe Cyllene, GTI Software & Networking, PROJIXI Europe, SKALE-5, SMILE, and Xebia. By partnering with Alibaba Cloud, together they can facilitate the digital transformation of companies in the EMEA region, especially those in the retail sector by leveraging Alibaba Group’s expertise in e-commerce, logistics and New Retail.

Furthermore, the partners will be able to tap into the company’s business success and market insights in order to expand their presence in China under the “China Gateway” initiative.

“We believe in leveraging our partners’ strengths to create a strong ecosystem for technologies and solution offerings,” said Yeming Wang, General Manager, Alibaba Cloud EMEA. “By offering our state-of-the-art cloud infrastructure and advanced data intelligence services, together with our partners, we hope to accelerate companies’ digital transformation, and help them succeed globally in markets especially in China.”

Existing EMEA partners include companies such as Linkbynet, Ecritel, Micropole, and Intel who joined the program last year.

They were not alone in identifying the benefits of partnering with Alibaba Cloud; Gartner named Alibaba Cloud third globally for IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) and IUS (Infrastructure Utility Services), and the first in Asia Pacific in the same space.

With an eye to nurturing future workplace talent, Alibaba Cloud has also teamed up with local universities in France. In addition to partnering with Telecom ParisTech last year to introduce cloud computing and big data training for its students, this year, Alibaba Cloud announced its partnership with SUPINFO International University, institute of information technology and computer sciences created in Paris in 1965 and with over 30 campuses worldwide.

The parties will collaborate closely on matters relating to course design, certification training, IT infrastructure building and cross border connectivity.
“We are pleased to partner with Alibaba Cloud to have our students equipped with useful knowledge on cloud computing technologies, especially in its applications. We believe in empowering students through learning and together with Alibaba Cloud, we can bring the best designed practical courses to them. We want to offer a rich technology test bed for students to experiment different skills in order to prepare them to solve real-life challenges upon graduation,” said Alick MOURIESSE, President of SUPINFO International University.

“Through the collaborations with local universities, Alibaba Cloud can bring our knowledge in cloud computing, big data and artificial intelligence to students in France, which is essential to improving their competitive advantages in the workplace,” said Kevin Liu, Country Manager, Alibaba Cloud France & South Europe.

“The partnership with SUPINFO following the tie up with Telecom ParisTech further demonstrated our commitment to France and our contributions to talent development.”
In addition to its presence at VivaTech in France, Alibaba Cloud will also host its Partner Summit in UK and Germany, with the aim of attracting more participants to its EMEA Ecosystem Partner Program.

www.alibabacloud.com

Teraco’s Africa Cloud Exchange offers a direct connection to multiple leading global cloud services in Africa

Cloud investment into Africa has increased sharply as the continent sees the establishment of its first cloud regions. Through extensive investment by multiple international operators, cloud strategies are now becoming a key element within every enterprise’s infrastructure investment. Teraco, Africa’s largest and most interconnected vendor-neutral data centre, says its African cloud exchange, located in the Johannesburg and Cape Town data centre facilities, will ensure a low risk, direct entry point for clients wishing to connect to local and global cloud providers. This ‘on-ramp’ is a vital, secure connection service housed within data centres such as Teraco and provides direct connectivity to a host of cloud providers.

Since launching, Teraco’s Africa Cloud Exchange, services the sub Saharan Africa region and has become instrumental in keeping local traffic within the borders of Africa, as opposed to routing it via Europe and back again. Currently AWS Direct Connect, Microsoft Express Route and Google’s Cloud Platform are all available via the cloud exchange.

Andrew Owens, peering and interconnection specialist, Teraco, says the Africa Cloud Exchange is the neutral connectivity point where any enterprise, ISP, carrier or managed service provider can connect in Africa: “This investment into Africa will significantly impact the burgeoning cloud region. Aside from benefiting from the myriad of cloud connectivity options, there is also no limitation on capacity. Teraco purely charges a cross-connection fee and as a result, reduces the costs to connect.”

He says that access to multiple connectivity providers and business partners is an inevitable requirement of any modern enterprise: “Most enterprises want to avoid the public Internet due to potential latency and throughput issues. These challenges are addressed by private connect solutions. Through our cloud exchange we ensure a low risk, secure, direct, predictable connection to any client-selected cloud provider.”

By utilising cross-connections, Teraco’s Africa Cloud Exchange is a highly scalable, quick and cost-effective way to create a hybrid or multi-cloud IT environment: “It creates an ideal opportunity to move business critical workloads and latency-sensitive applications to the public cloud. Through this approach, less network hops, higher carrier diversity and interconnectivity are automatically a part of a resilient and scalable network,” says Owens.

In addition, Owens says that cloud operators can take advantage of direct access to African terrestrial fibre, satellite connectivity, submarine cables and an open market for interconnection.

Using the Africa Cloud Exchange, Owens says Teraco recently ran real world latency tests from the Teraco cross-connection directly to resources deployed in Western Europe and resources deployed in South Africa via Microsoft Express Route. As shown in the diagram below, the RTT (Round Trip Time) to resources deployed in the cloud from Teraco’s Africa Cloud Exchange has improved from an average of 171ms down to less than 2ms.

“Lower latency, and direct cloud connections are imperative for a cloud approach to thrive. Being able to assist clients within the enterprise to better serve their clients, providing not only interconnects, but also lower latency,” says Owens.

Liquid Telecom launches Azure Stack, Microsoft’s cloud service in East Africa

The new Azure Stack service will allow companies to run a private Microsoft cloud within East Africa, rather than at one of Microsoft’s 54 public data centres located outside the region

Liquid Telecom Kenya has today launched a Microsoft Cloud service in East Africa that offers a step-change in cybersecurity for the region’s most sensitive databases.

The new Azure Stack service will allow companies to run a private Microsoft cloud within East Africa, rather than at one of Microsoft’s 54 public data centres located outside the region. This means users benefit from the cutting-edge security protocols developed and run by Microsoft on its cloud platforms, while holding their data locally, which makes data uploading faster for databases that can be as large as one terabyte or more.

The service will be available from today across East Africa, hosted in private cloud nodes in Kenya and Tanzania, which makes it possible to replicate databases at different locations to increase reliability and flexibility.

 “The data transmission time to Europe is around 200 milliseconds, and for the closest Microsoft cloud server, in South Africa, 55 milliseconds. But the new Azure Stacks in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam will mean data transfer speeds of less than 20 milliseconds for all users within East Africa,” said Winston Ritson, Group Head of Cloud Services for the Liquid Telecom Group.

This increase in speeds will transform back-ups and uploads from previously lengthy processes to swift data exchanges. Globally, companies have reported that this has transformed their operations, with one logistics company in California achieving a 50% improvement in service delivery on increased data speeds.

Using Azure Stack also opens the way to a level of cybersecurity that few organisations have the capacity to develop.

“Microsoft spends some $1bn a year on ensuring the security of its Azure platforms. This is a scale of spend and professional attention that companies cannot match or surpass in securing their data,” said Winston.

This comes as East Africa’s data security continues to deteriorate. In 2017, Kenya lost over Sh21bn to cybercrime. But the nation’s losses are forecast to rise further on new cyber threats, including attacks on built-in Windows IT admin tools, Powershell files and Windows Scripting executables.

 “Developing the Azure Stack in East Africa has required intensive development and co-operation between Liquid Telecom and Microsoft,” said Adil El Youssefi, CEO East Africa, Liquid Telecom. “However, we believe that in offering a now unequalled level of cybersecurity, it has delivered yet another vital pillar to the economic development of Kenya and East Africa.”

www.liquidtelecom.com