SEACOM invests in fibre capacity to support cloud computing

Pan-African service provider SEACOM has announced plans to double the data capacity on its broadband submarine cable system from 1.5 terabytes to 3 terabytes. The move will see more businesses on the continent utilize emerging technologies such as cloud computing.

SEACOM CEO Byron Clatterbuck says the decision is informed by the increasing demand for cloud-based data processing by companies with multinational operations across the continent.

“It’s not just about connecting from Africa to Europe and Asia anymore,” Clatterbuck said. “A lot of content and computing power is moving onto the continent, so connectivity requirements are becoming more regional, and specifically interregional. With such a complex environment, greater capacity is essential.”

SEACOM is already providing direct broadband access to corporate customers through its SEACOM Business arm.

As a partner to African business, the undersea broadband cable services provider has already enabled cloud-based operations for a variety of companies through high-speed, secure and reliable connectivity to platforms such as Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services.

Going forward, the company says it plans on expanding further inland, widening fibre access across the continent while targeting large and medium corporations with its premium offerings.

“You will see more terrestrial cables being laid, and the quality of those builds will get better,” Clatterbuck explained. He added “This isn’t to say there aren’t challenges. There is a long way to go in terms of basic infrastructure provision, relating to roads, rails and highways, all of which make it easier and more affordable to deploy fibre-optic networks.

In April, SEACOM announced the conclusion of the agreement for the 100% acquisition of FibreCo Telecommunications in November 2018. FibreCo owns and operates a national open access dark fibre network, providing infrastructure and connectivity services across South Africa. Acknowledging its benefits for the South African economy and local citizens, the South African Competition Commission approved the acquisition in March.

The FibreCo acquisition represents another significant step for SEACOM in fulfilling its vision to increase the company’s 2019 national footprint in South Africa and Africa as a whole through the consolidation of fibre assets. SEACOM believes this is necessary for the evolution of the market, particularly with the increased demand for data owing to the growth in fibre based connectivity and emergence in technologies such as 5G.

The acquisition of FibreCo further enables SEACOM to scale and upgrade its African Ring by connecting its East and West coast submarine assets with a robust network of trans-South African fibre.

While SEACOM connects South Africa to the east coast of Africa, India and Europe, FibreCo network runs along South Africa’s highest-traffic transmission routes and connects over 60 points of presence across the country that include key data centres in major metros like Johannesburg, Cape Town, Bloemfontein, Durban and East London.

Additional end-to-end fibre connects the SEACOM subsea cable system (which lands in Mtunzini on the east coast of South Africa) to the WACS cable (which falls at Yzerfontein, on the west coast of the country), ensuring fully redundant high-speed ring protection around the African continent.

By expanding its wholesale portfolio to include several national long-distance services and last mile metro connectivity, SEACOM has become the provider of choice to local and international data communications customers.

Lighting up additional fibre across South Africa also creates a platform for SEACOM to deliver affordable, high-speed Internet connectivity and cloud services to traditionally-underserved mid-tier cities and towns along the new routes.

www.seacom.mu

[Kenya] VMware, Strathmore University partner to enhance digital skills in Africa

Working with VMware IT Academy: Virtualize Africa, the Strathmore University has already begun integrating a range of VMware developed courses into its curricula that cover topics such as virtualisation, cloud computing, AI and IoT.

VMware has announced the expansion of the VMware IT Academy: Virtualize Africa programme in partnership Strathmore University – @iLabAfrica Centre, Kenya.

The overarching goal according to VMware  is to empower the fast-growing, young African population to enter the digital workforce with confidence and expertise, helping to address the skills gap and supporting innovation and entrepreneurship across the continent.

Through the VMware IT Academy: Virtualize Africa programme, VMware is collaborating with key stakeholders across academia, government and industry to equip African students with the technical skills and certifications required to succeed in the digital economy.

Working with VMware IT Academy: Virtualize Africa, the Strathmore University has already begun integrating a range of VMware developed courses into its curricula that cover topics such as virtualisation, cloud computing, AI and IoT. This is facilitated through subsidised software licenses and certification vouchers from VMware.

@iLabAfrica, a Centre of Excellence in Research and Innovation in Information Communication Technology at the University, is spearheading the rollout with 20 trainers and over 100 students at the University participating. The students will benefit from access to high-quality learning online resources, hands-on lab experiences to develop technical skills, and the opportunity to achieve industry-recognised VMware certification to complement their chosen fields of study.

“We are delighted to be part of VMware IT Academy: Virtualize Africa. It provides a wonderful opportunity for our students to gain technical skills and industry-recognised VMware certifications, helping to jumpstart their careers with the best knowledge and skills of international standards. Our shared goal with VMware is to become the VMware IT Academy regional lead for East Africa, training lecturers and students from Strathmore and other universities plus facilitating their participation in the programme. Increased access to this type of education and training for students is a critical part of Africa realising the potential of its youth and a prosperous Africa,” said Dr. Joseph Sevilla, Director @iLabAfrica, Strathmore University.

“Skills development is recognised as a key component for economic growth and prosperity. VMware IT Academy: Virtualize Africa helps educational institutions align curricula with the skills needed for the labour market, thereby building the right talent for Africa’s jobs of today and tomorrow. . Our discussions to form a strategic collaboration with Strathmore University is a significant milestone in this program, and will bring new skills and opportunities to its students, and in the future to many more young people in East Africa,” said Thomas MacKay, Senior Director for Global Strategic Programs, VMware.

www.vmware.com

[Column] Harish Chib: Seven best practices for securing the public cloud

The simplicity and cost-effectiveness of the public cloud have led more and more organizations to take advantage of Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). You can spin up a new instance in minutes, scale resources up and down whenever you need while only paying for what you use, and avoid high upfront hardware costs. 

While the public cloud solves many traditional IT resourcing challenges, it does introduce new headaches. The rapid growth of cloud usage has resulted in a fractured distribution of data, with workloads spread across disparate instances and, for some organizations, platforms. As a result, keeping track of the data, workloads, and architecture changes in those environments to keep everything secure is often a highly challenging task.

Public cloud providers are responsible for the security of the cloud (the physical datacenters, and the separation of customer environments and data). However, the responsibility for securing the workloads and data placed in the cloud lies firmly with the customer. Just as organisations need to secure the data stored in their on-premises networks, so they need to secure their cloud environment. Misunderstandings around this distribution of ownership is widespread and the resulting security gaps have made cloud-based workloads the new pot of gold for today’s savvy hackers. 

Seven Steps to Securing the Public Cloud

The secret to effective cybersecurity in the cloud is improving your overall security posture: ensuring your architecture is secure and configured correctly, that you have the necessary visibility into your architecture, and importantly, into who is accessing it.

Step 1: Learn your responsibilities

This may sound obvious, but security is handled a little differently in the cloud. Public cloud providers such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform run a shared responsibility model – meaning they ensure the security of the cloud, while you are responsible for anything you place in the cloud.

Step 2: Plan for multi-cloud

Multi-cloud is no longer a nice-to-have strategy.  Rather, it’s become a must have strategy. There are many reasons why you may want to use multiple clouds, such as availability, improved agility, or functionality. When planning your security strategy start with the assumption that you’ll run multi-cloud – if not now, at some point in the future. In this way you can future-proof your approach.

Step 3: See everything

If you can’t see it, you can’t secure it. That’s why one of the biggest requirements to getting your security posture right is getting accurate visibility of all your cloud-based infrastructure, configuration settings, API calls, and user access.

Step 4: Integrate compliance into daily processes

The dynamic nature of the public cloud means that continuous monitoring is the only way to ensure compliance with many regulations. The best way to achieve this is to integrate compliance into daily activities, with real-time snapshots of your network topology and real-time alerts to any changes.

Step 5: Automate your security controls

Cybercriminals increasingly take advantage of automation in their attacks. Stay ahead of the hackers by automating your defenses, including remediation of vulnerabilities and anomaly reporting.

Step 6: Secure ALL your environments (including dev and QA)

You need a solution that can secure your all environments (production, development, and QA) both reactively and proactively

Step 7: Apply your on-premises security learnings

On-premises security is the result of decades of experience and research. Use firewalls and server protection to secure your cloud assets against infection and data loss, and keep your endpoint and email security up to date on your devices to prevent unauthorized access to cloud accounts.

Moving from traditional to cloud-based workloads offers huge opportunities for organizations of all sizes. Yet securing the public cloud is imperative if you are to protect your infrastructure and organization from cyberattacks. By following the seven steps you can maximize the security of your public clouds, while also simplifying management and compliance reporting.

Harish Chib is the Vice President, Middle East & Africa of Sophos.

[Column] Kree Govender: Why cloud hasn’t had a big impact on Business Intelligence

Although the notion of network-based computing stems right back to the 1960s, the modern term “cloud computing” arose in the 2000s. Yet, almost two decades later, South Africa still lags in both its adoption, and its use for critical functions like business intelligence (BI). 

While many believe that this is largely due to a lack of local data centre infrastructure, the landing of the Azure data centres in Africa will drastically change the Cloud landscape across the continent. “This effectively eradicates the fear of shifting massive datasets offshore to global data centres,” confirms Kree Govender, Managing Director of South Africa Qlik Master Reseller (SAQMR). 

The current hesitance towards Cloud adoption in Africa is illustrated by the Qlik implementations across the continent. Statistics show that as much as 95% of Qlik’s customers in Africa are on premise. 

“Gartner predicts that by 2025, 80 percent of enterprises will migrate entirely away from on-premises data centres with the current trend of moving workloads to colocation, hosting and the cloud leading them to shut down their traditional data centre,” adds Govender. “If these predictions prove accurate, the new data centres will mean there’s no longer anything holding Africa back from catching up with the rest of the world.” 

Adam Barrie-Smith, Chief Technology Officer at SAQMR, believes that the Qlik platform is perfectly positioned to capitalise on the benefits that these data centres will offer. “This will complement extensive mobile analysis testing using Qlik’s SaaS and Cloud business, leveraging Qlik Senses’ multi-Cloud capabilities. The first advantage is the data centre, the next will be the containerised cloud environment which is set to follow soon.”  

To Barrie-Smith, one of the greatest benefits of local data centres is enhanced identity management. “Let’s consider the impact on the banking industry, for example. Most African banks still hold on-premise hardware, which is now reaching retirement age. The question now becomes, should they invest in more hardware or virutalise? With the new data centres, our banking customers will find it much simpler and more cost-effective to embrace the Cloud, through a hosted layer within Azure.” 

While making Cloud adoption easier, the new data centres also offer rich integration capabilities, enhanced virtualisation opportunities, a more elastic environment and greater security. “With the local Azure data centres, African organisations will be empowered to embrace hybrid cloud, and we predict a much greater cloud drive,” concludes Govender.  

 Kree Govender is the Managing Director of South Africa Qlik Master Reseller (SAQMR). 

[Column] Trent Odgers: Maximizing data availability using a multi-cloud approach

The ways businesses leverage cloud to manage and maximize the value of their data continues to evolve.

Following the launch of two multi-national data centers in South Africa recently, the years when adopting cloud-based solutions felt like the first step into some brave new world are well and truly behind us.

However, this is ushering a new era of multi-cloud deployment – one which is attracting attention, questions, and scepticism from local businesses.

A hybrid cloud is an amalgamation of on-premises “private cloud”, public cloud and managed Cloud Service Provider (CSPs) environments into a single entity where the data is physically located in multiple datacenters to deliver the right fit for a specific workload. It is a nod towards the fact that businesses are increasingly using different clouds for different purposes. 

In today’s digital economy, 81% of enterprises are embracing a multi-cloud strategy and South African businesses have already adopted this digital gold rush with many more who are planning to do so. 

It is common for the IT industry to promote the idea of a one-stop-shop or single provider strategy – to avoid the perceived inefficiency and confusion of dealing with multiple vendors. 
This is the “traditional way” of doing IT, which had its place, but with the speed at which the world is changing, businesses can truly deliver on IT’s requirements using the hybrid approach. 

Data is now described as the new oil of the digital economy, and it has become a company’s most valuable resource. As businesses demand an infrastructure which maximises the potential value of that data, IT departments are under pressure to deliver.

For example, a business may wish to store data from its business unit in Google Cloud for scalability at relatively low expense but use Amazon Web Services (AWS) for its R&D databases to enjoy the benefits of AI and voice-assisted search.

And in the same instance, that business could be using Microsoft Azure to help drive its productivity solutions or mission-critical enterprise resource planning processes, while keeping a copy of all the data on-premises or hosted at a local cloud provider. 

Previously, the only viable decision for the business would have been to make a judgment call based on its priority needs and budget constraints. Today, the best strategic option is to adopt a multi-cloud approach.

Data-driven transformation

Already, there is a movement for organisations to become more data-driven. Decision-makers are recognising the importance of data in both high-level business strategy as well as on the operational side of their business. 

Furthermore, consumers and employees are beginning to appreciate the true value of their data, which means businesses must ensure that the people who share data with them see the value in doing so through receiving more personalised experiences.

People want to know that their data is protected, secure and also want greater transparency about what it is being used for.

Of course, in South Africa, this is where it is critical to adhere to corporate governance requirements, especially the likes of the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA).

 Fortunately, with local multi-national data centres, aspects such as data sovereignty and speed of accessing data are no longer concerns.

But creating this data-driven culture is underpinned by continuous digital transformation – embracing the latest and greatest technologies which allow the business to repeatedly lift its performance levels. 

According to Gartner’s 2018 CIO Agenda report, making progress towards becoming a digital business is a top priority for CIOs – and the proliferation towards multi-cloud reflects this trend.

Despite this, the latest Veeam Cloud Data Management Report reveals that more than one in ten decision-makers said their organisation has experienced over 10 unplanned outages in the last 12 months, with 65 minutes being the average length of time unplanned outages last. 

Successful multi-cloud deployments depend on the always-on availability of all apps and data. So, businesses looking to take advantage of multi-cloud environments must ensure that their apps and data are always available – and that their culture of data-driven decision-making is fully supported to maintain customer confidence and brand reputation.

Availability in the multi-cloud

The complexity of maintaining availability within a multi-cloud environment is the reliance on multiple Cloud Service Providers (CSPs). While all major vendors and CSPs will make backup and disaster recovery (DR) solutions available to their customers, each provider has different protocols, shared responsibility models, service level agreements (SLAs) and capabilities. 

The last thing any business wants to hear when disaster strikes is that they are not adequately protected or that recovery has failed.

While no business, regardless of whether it is using multi-cloud or not, can guarantee that it will never experience unplanned downtime, every business can ensure that it is prepared for this possibility.

Even having local data centres is no guarantee that there will never be any downtime. South African businesses opting for multi-cloud need to ensure that they have an availability solution which sits across their entire cloud platform, making cloud data protection easy with a seamless process for sending data offsite to the cloud.

For businesses using multi-cloud to power their digital transformation in the bid to establish a more data-driven culture across the organisation, data is akin to running water – a utility which all rely on and must be available at all times. 

Businesses embracing multi-cloud should not be put off by the prospect of working with multiple vendors as software-based platforms can give the peace of mind and a turnkey solution to minimising downtime.

Trent Odgersis Cloud and Hosting Manager for Africa at Veeam

[Column] Andrew Cruise: Two years until Infrastructure as a Service boom hits South Africa

Routed, a leading vendor neutral provider of cloud infrastructure, says that the predicted growth of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is in line with the increasing growth forecasts for cloud computing. Andrew Cruise, managing director, Routed, says that while IaaS is seen as an emerging opportunity in Africa, the work has already started locally with demand increasing as awareness of cloud capabilities increase.

“Since launching three years ago, we have seen a steady increase in both interest and deployment of cloud infrastructure services. As cloud computing grows, so too does the need for cloud-based infrastructure resources,” says Cruise. “Without IaaS there is no Cloud: IaaS is the foundation for all Cloud services. Now that connectivity is fast, cheap and reliable we have reached the tipping point in South Africa where general interest in Cloud has switched into action.”

According to The Xalam Rise of Cloud Report 2019, South Africa is the largest cloud market on the continent. The country accounts for 75% of Africa’s total cloud revenue and Xalam says that this is unsurprising as around 60% of the continent’s enterprise ICT services revenues are generated in South Africa. Routed, which featured in the report as a leading provider of cloud infrastructure resources, says that IaaS is the fastest growing category in the African cloud space, averaging around 120% annually over the three years at 2018.

The report also estimated that around 80% of Africa’s public cloud revenue is generated from SaaS applications. To a large extent this reflects the embryonic nature of this market; SaaS is a cloud starting platform for most businesses according to Xalam.

Guy Zibi, managing director, Xalam Analytics, says IaaS is seen as more of a long-term player, estimating that South Africa is two years away from a true boom: “From a low base – IaaS is the fastest-growing cloud services segment across our cloud value chain.”

Cruise says that one factor influencing the growth and potential of IaaS is what Xalam refers to as the VMWare factor. The availability of VMWare virtualisation solutions is providing African MSPs with a platform to compete with hyperscale providers on IaaS; while they can’t match the capabilities of AWS or Azure, MSPs have increasingly been able to offer local-centric IaaS services, with support and other benefits not offered by global cloud providers.

“For more than a decade, VMware’s solutions have been the go-to virtualisation and management platform for enterprises requiring uptime, security and performance on-premise. Now enterprises can be reassured that the same outcome can be delivered using specialist, certified VMware Cloud Providers, without internalising risk, or investing in facilities, hardware, software and engineering resources,” says Cruise.

Andrew Cruise is the managing director at Routed.

African cloud market takes off bouyed by demand from public and private sectors, report

The African cloud has arrived. While the cloud services sector is in its early stages of development, the impact of cloud services is already far-reaching according to a new report by Research and Markets.

 African banks are making investments in machine learning and artificial intelligence tools to improve the customer experience and credit risk; new “digital banks” are emerging, that are, at least in part, cloud-based.

Governments are using cloud and virtualized infrastructure to enhance public service delivery. Large retail firms are using compute capabilities and AWS databases to transform how they reach a predominantly mobile and digital customer base.

 And scores of African cloud-native startups are leveraging the cloud to disrupt entire industry sectors.

The African cloud may be small, but it is already here indeed, and it is growing fast. For African markets, cloud, virtualization and the broader evolution towards serverless computing are the most disruptive technology developments since the advent of the mobile payment revolution.

 Few other segments in the African ICT space are as likely to generate an incremental $2bn in top line revenue over the next five years, and at least as much in adjacent enabling ecosystem revenue.

The report highlights the near term economic, commercial and investor value opportunity offered by the rise of the African cloud.

Building on the author’s established analysis of African enterprise and digital infrastructure markets, 18 months of research and 100+ interviews and conversations, The Rise of the African Cloud explores the readiness of African markets for thriving private and public cloud services; it analyzes cloud demand and use case patterns, at segment level, from financial services to the public sector and startups; it estimates and projects cloud services market size; it details the competitive strengths of global hyperscale cloud providers and how their battle is translating in the African context; it outlines the impact of cloud services on Africa’s managed service provider ecosystem and telcos’ evolving enterprise businesses; and it breaks down the investment case within the African cloud value chain, from enterprise connectivity to data centers and SaaS.

www.researchandmarkets.com

Johannesburg Stock Exchange starts offering historical tick data in the cloud

The Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE), Africa’s largest, multi-asset class stock exchange, now offers historical equity; equity derivatives and currency derivatives tick data in the cloud, meaning that clients, data vendors, investors and traders will now be able to access historical data more swiftly.

The JSE has partnered with CME Group, the world’s leading and most diverse derivatives marketplace, to house its first cloud solution offering.

The move modernises the JSE’s market data offering and strengthens the exchanges position as a global market player.  

The historical tick data will enable clients, traders and investors to assess trading opportunities, strengthen their market insights and improve risk mitigation intelligence based on both the market and various individual stocks’ past performance, support compliance reporting with more extensive data and conduct other valuable trading-related analyses.

“Traders, investors and our clients require tick data all the time in order to make informed decisions and we are pleased to offer them swifter access to information that can enable them to make these decisions.  As the JSE we constantly aim to provide our clients with the right solutions to meet their needs,” says Mark Randall, Director of Information Services at the JSE. 

www.jse.co.za

Increased digitization, investment in cloud-based services drive growth of Africa data center market, report

The Africa data center market is likely to grow at a CAGR of around 14 per cent during the period 2018 – 2024 according to a recent report by Research and Markets.

icolo.io, MainOne (MDXi), Cloud Exchange Datacenter, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and Medallion Communications are the prominent investors in the Africa data center market. Digitization is considered an important avenue for the African economy. It is transforming African economies through retail payments systems, financial inclusion, sustainable business models, and revenue administration.

Governments in the region are taking several initiatives to replace legacy systems and migrate to cloud-based services as part of smart city initiatives. IaaS is expected to grow at a CAGR of 40%, followed by SaaS at 30% with enterprises increasingly shifting to the public cloud platform. There has been a surge in colocation data center investment in markets such as Kenya, Nigeria, Morocco, and Senegal in the past two years. Governments are taking initiatives to increase the share of renewable energy in the electricity generation.

Increased digitization in African countries, the adoption of cloud-based services, migration from server rooms to managed, colocation, and hybrid infrastructure services are driving the investment in the Africa data center market. The report provides an in-depth market and segmental analysis of the Africa data center market by electrical infrastructure, mechanical infrastructure, tier standards, general construction, and countries.

www.researchandmarkets.com

Optimal IdM partners with Precise Technologies to distribute cloud solution in Africa and Middle East

Optimal IdM, a global provider of Identity Access Management (IAM) solutions, has partnered with Precise Technologies who will be the exclusive value-added distributor (VAD) of The OptimalCloud™ in the META market – Middle East, Turkey, and Africa.

The OptimalCloud™ is a scalable and customizable Identity and Access Management (IAM) solution that deploys easily and provides seamless and secure access to thousands of applications using single sign-on technology. The OptimalCloud offers multi-factor authentication (MFA) and adaptive authorization from any data store, provides delegated administration and user management enablement and can be deployed in the cloud, or federated to other organizations. The OptimalCloud also comes with year-round support and a guaranteed uptime.

Precise Technologies, a VAD specializing in disruptive and emerging technologies focused on cyber security, information security, digital & cloud transformation, and AI-based analytics solutions, will now distribute and support Optimal IdM in expanding its market presence in the META region, by fostering a mutually beneficial partnership.

“We are looking forward to introduce Optimal IdM to the META region and we are confident we will be able to help grow new business for Optimal IdM in META to the next level and support customers with our sales and technical team locally available across the region,” said Ranjit Pillai, Co-Founder and Managing Director at Precise Technologies.

“We are very excited to be working with Precise Technologies on our outreach into the META region,” said Chris Curcio, Vice President of partners and channels for Optimal IdM. “Expanding our products and services, like The OptimalCloud, into the region has been a top priority and partnering with a respected organization like Precise Technologies is exactly what we wanted.”

www.optimalidm.com

www.precise-tech.net