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] 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

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

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

[South Africa] Barko Financial Services chooses Temenos cloud software to deliver personalized digital customer experiences

Temenos, the banking software company, has announced that Barko Financial Services has selected Temenos software to replace its legacy systems, in both core and front office, to offer a compelling and personalized customer experience.

The microfinance institution will use cloud-native, cloud-agnostic Temenos T24 Transact, the next generation in core banking, and Temenos Infinity, the breakthrough digital banking product.

Barko Financial Services is in the process of applying for a banking license with the ambition to launch a retail bank that will challenge the status quo in South Africa by offering financial products aimed at better meeting the needs of lower-income South African consumers – Temenos will provide the technology to enable this strategy.

The microfinance institution has over 170 branches and caters for millions of modest-earning, but salaried South Africans such as government employees, mineworkers and civil servants.

Currently, it takes Barko Financial Services 25 minutes to onboard a client and 10 to 15 for a new loan application. With Temenos’ packaged, integrated software, Barko Financial Services will dramatically reduce the time to originate loans, targeting re-loan applications to be completed in under two minutes and new loan completion in under seven minutes.

The aim is to give customers, who are mostly located in rural areas, a compelling digital experience using mobile devices, thereby eliminating the need to visit a branch.

By selecting Temenos’ end-to-end digital banking platform, Barko Financial Services will benefit from accelerated project timelines and drastically reduced cost of deployment. The microfinance institution is expected to go live in six months.

Cloud-hosted Temenos Infinity will allow Barko Financial Services to gain product agility and take new products and services to market faster. Temenos T24 Transact will enable the business to benefit from operational efficiencies at a lower cost of ownership.

Temenos has more than 25 years of global banking expertise and a local presence in Africa. Temenos consistently invests over 20% of its revenue into continually enhancing its packaged software, to develop the richest and deepest functionality in the industry.

Kobus de Wet, Chief Executive Officer, Barko Financial Services, said: “We are delighted to be working with Temenos as our strategic technology partner. Temenos has a worldwide reputation for robust, scalable banking software and an extensive presence in the African region. We selected Temenos’ packaged and open banking software to transform our customer experience, offer personalized products and services and drastically lower our total cost of ownership. With Temenos, we will be able to launch capabilities faster, if we get approval to establish a bank, and provide innovative products which are simple to use and tailored to add value to our target customers. We wish to offer lower-income customers a personalized experience that is typically reserved for private clients.”

Jean-Paul Mergeai, Managing Director – Middle East and Africa, Temenos, said: “Technology is playing a pivotal role in making financial inclusion a viable option for everyone. We are delighted to partner with Barko Financial Services, which joins the Temenos family, and it can leverage our experience of serving over 220 microfinance institutions as well as our expertise in helping new banks to launch. By selecting our cloud-native, cloud-agnostic packaged software Barko Financial Services will benefit from a fast implementation. Barko Financial Services will be best positioned to leverage technology innovation to offer an outstanding customer experience at a reduced cost. We look forward to working with Barko Financial Services as it transforms the services that it offers to its customers.”

www.temenos.com

www.barko.co.za

[South Africa] Teraco to invest $71 million in expansion of its data center campus to respond to growing cloud uptake

In its largest infrastructure build project to date, Africa’s neutral data center provider has announced that it will be expanding the Teraco Isando Campus (JB1).

 Increased demand for additional data centre capacity is being driven by cloud uptake and enterprise organisations wanting to access the Teraco platform.

The expansion will occur in two phases. Phase 1, currently underway, will grow the facility by 2 000 cabinets bringing the total JB1 Campus capacity to 5 700.

Total usable floor space will increase by 4 000 square meters, expanding to a total of 12 000 square meters across the data centre campus. The anticipated ready for service date is in Q3 2019.

A total of 60MW of power will be reticulated to the site addressing requirements for further expansion after Phase 1 has been completed. The total power available to the Isando Campus will now reach 80MW.

Jan Hnizdo, Chief Financial Officer, Teraco says that he sees continued demand for Teraco’s services given the unique business model and secular growth trends as the African continent continues to digitally transform. The Teraco Campus expansion follows on from the recently launched Riverfields hyper-scale data centre facility in Bredell.

Hnizdo says that funding for the build is via a combination of internally generated funds and enlarging existing debt facilities from R1.2bn to R1.8bn. “Our debt funding partners, Absa, continue to be highly supportive of our business model and are key partners in Teraco’s growth strategy”.

Teraco’s offering to clients of resilient data centre facilities allows for a choice of over 300 telco’s providing connectivity to Africa and the lowest latency interconnection points to cloud and content.

Hnizdo says that with the recent announcements of direct interconnection availability to the major cloud onramps such as Amazon Web Services Direct Connect and Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute, Teraco has seen a growing uptake driven by the enterprise market.

“The Teraco platform allows enterprises to have direct private connections to all the leading cloud providers in the most latency efficient and resilient manner possible. Enterprises can deploy their public, private and hybrid cloud strategies from the Teraco platform which allows for complete freedom of choice from a cloud provider perspective, as well as significantly reducing the time and cost for enterprises to access these cloud platforms”.

Over the past decade, Teraco has focused on growing its ecosystems of telco, content, financial services, enterprise and service providers. Its offering is underpinned by providing clients with direct access to Africa’s largest Internet exchange, NAPAfrica, which includes all the benefits of interconnection via the Teraco platform.

Hnizdo says that Teraco is committed to growing its capacity footprint across its core hubs, thereby ensuring that clients have certainty and the flexibility of expansion to take part in the digital transformation that is happening across sub-Saharan Africa:

“Teraco continues to invest significantly into the region’s ICT infrastructure and has built what is now Africa’s largest data centre. We take pride in our vendor-neutral offering, with open access to interconnection and world class resilient data centre infrastructure for all our clients”.

www.teraco.co.za

Motorola Solutions launches cloud-based push to talk service in EMEA

Motorola Solutions has launched WAVE – the new, network-independent multimedia communication subscription service in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA).

 The cloud-based push-to-talk (PTT) service connects teams and enables real-time group communications using any device from smartphones to two-way radios, tablets and PCs to broadband devices.

In addition to its cloud-based WAVE service, Motorola Solutions is introducing its new purpose-built WAVE Radio: the TLK 100.

The TLK 100 combines the functional benefits of WAVE with a rugged radio form factor for professional users. The device provides businesses with instant push-to-talk communication across Europe, utilizing 3G, 4G or Wi-Fi networks without the need for costly or time-consuming spectrum licensing or manual programming.

The rugged PTT device is ideal for industries like construction, transportation, energy, private security, and more. Businesses can easily manage their workforce using the integrated GPS to maximize safety, check project status, find faster routes, modify tasks, and position team members where they are needed most.

A new WAVE Mobile Application enables workers to turn their phone into a broadband PTT handset and get instant communication anywhere they have broadband service.

Users can connect their two-way radio system to WAVE, extending coverage and allowing smartphones to communicate with radio users. Integrated messaging also enables them to push text, video, audio, photos and files to individuals or groups as well as coordinate meetings based on location sharing.

Motorola Solutions also offers a WAVE Dispatch Application to further simplify day-to-day broadband PTT group communications. With WAVE Dispatch, businesses can manage their resources and coordinate an effective operation from any internet connection with a standard browser.

They can keep in touch with their teams to ensure that they have all the information they need. Workforces can also be deployed more efficiently through location updates and mapping.

“We see a growing demand from businesses that need to connect their teams via easy-to-use push-to-talk services in the field,” said Viv Francis, vice president, channel sales EMEA at Motorola Solutions. “They need future-leading technologies for group-based broadband communications, plus purpose-built devices that function at the push of a single button to improve employee efficiency.”

www.motorolasolutions.com