SoftwareONE and AWS sign agreement to accelerate global cloud adoption

SoftwareONE Holding AG, a leading global provider of software and cloud technology solutions, today announced a multi-year strategic collaboration agreement with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to accelerate their customers’ cloud journeys. Through this comprehensive agreement, SoftwareONE and AWS will collaborate to accelerate the adoption of AWS services and solutions globally across all industries, supported by joint investments into go-to-market and delivery capabilities.

Building on a well-established relationship, SoftwareONE and AWS have entered into a multi-year Strategic Collaboration Agreement to provide customers globally with a variety of AWS solutions and services to support their cloud migration and modernization efforts. Key areas of collaboration include accelerating growth of SoftwareONE’s Simple for AWS offering, industrializing AWS cloud migrations and driving AWS Marketplace adoption in conjunction with SoftwareONE’s platform PyraCloud.

SoftwareONE helps customers manage their software and cloud spend through software digital supply chain and FinOps Certified services and platforms. By accessing thousands of ISV partners consolidated in SoftwareONE’s ecosystem, customers can use volume to maximize the value of the AWS Estate. At the same time, customers can achieve ongoing AWS cloud cost optimization and management. SoftwareONE’s PyraCloud platform delivers a single digital experience for customers to help manage their software and cloud spend in one place.

Utilizing investments from AWS, SoftwareONE will further develop its global Cloud Center of Excellence with best-in-class and fully certified AWS resources to support and improve the overall customer experience. In addition, SoftwareONE will provided dedicated training for the next generation of AWS cloud professionals through the SoftwareONE Academy by sourcing talent from a diverse range of backgrounds. The Academy will leverage AWS Education Programs to develop both sales and technical capabilities to support entire customer journeys and overall growth of SoftwareONE’s AWS practice.

SoftwareONE’s Chief Executive Officer, Dieter Schlosser, said, “We maintain long-term relationships with our customers, modernizing their software, cloud and technology to attain their digital transformation goals. This ground-breaking agreement signals our commitment to scaling out our global AWS practice to advance our customers’ multi-cloud strategies. It underpins our vision of growing our Application Services, SAP Services, Industry Vertical Solutions, Cloud Services and FinOps to a combined CHF 1 billion services business by 2025. Finally, it helps our PyraCloud platform customers optimize their AWS cloud service consumption.”

“As cloud adoption accelerates, we are excited to work with our AWS Public Sector Partners, like SoftwareONE, that are global in scale and have comprehensive cloud-native expertise and delivery capabilities to address mission-critical tasks and the complex needs of today’s organizations,” said Jeff Kratz, Vice President, Worldwide Public Sector Partners and Programs, AWS.

SoftwareONE is an AWS Advanced Consulting Partner and recently acquired HeleCloud, an AWS Premier Consulting Partner and AWS Managed Service Provider. SoftwareONE also holds competencies for Migration, SAP, DevOps, Solution Provider, Public Sector, AWS Well-Architected Program, End User Computing and Microsoft Workloads.

www.softwareone.com

Oracle opens first cloud region in Africa

Oracle announced the availability of its first cloud region in Africa to meet the rapidly growing demand for enterprise cloud services on the continent. The Oracle Cloud Johannesburg Region will boost cloud adoption across Africa while also helping businesses achieve better performance and drive continuous innovation. The opening marks Oracle’s 37th cloud region worldwide with plans to have at least 44 cloud regions by the end of 2022, continuing one of the fastest expansions of any major cloud provider.

“The fourth industrial revolution, which is powered by cloud-led technologies, has significantly accelerated in South Africa and the wider African continent. In recent months, cloud technologies have played a vital role in helping African public and private sector organisations ensure business continuity, deliver essential services, and meet evolving customer expectations. The Oracle Johannesburg region offers a next-generation cloud to run any application faster and more securely for less, helping businesses build resilience, agility and achieve improved ROI,” said Richard Smith, executive vice president, EMEA, Oracle.

The Johannesburg region is built on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI), which enables customers to easily migrate IT workloads and data platforms to the cloud or build new cloud native applications. In addition, Oracle offers a wide range of application modernisation and cloud strategies to help African organisations operate with global competitiveness.

Customer, Analyst, and Partner Commentary

African organisations are using Oracle to manage their mission-critical workloads and take advantage of cloud economics. Customers will benefit from significant performance improvements and reduced operational costs.

Airports Company South Africa owns and manages a network of nine airports in South Africa, including the three main international gateways: O.R. Tambo International, Cape Town International and King Shaka International, which together process more than 40 million passengers annually.

“Airports Company South Africa is mandated to advance South Africa’s national agenda of economic growth and development while delivering a sustainable and profitable business. Cloud-led digital transformation is vital for us to maintain an agile and profitable business model. The Oracle Cloud Johannesburg Region will offer us the flexibility to explore the latest technologies that can support our digital roadmap,” said Mthoko Mncwabe, CIO, Airports Company South Africa.

The Government Pensions Administrative Agency (GPAA) ensures the effective, transparent and accountable administration of pension funds on behalf of the Government Employees Pension Fund (GPEF) and the National Treasury of South Africa.

“GPAA is in the process of replacing legacy applications and refreshing its IT infrastructure. The timing of the Johannesburg region opening is perfect to enable us to lift and shift our existing and future Oracle deployments to the cloud. This will enable us to cut down on on-premises infrastructure and assist with the management of Oracle services, cybersecurity and disaster recovery,” said Meiring Coetzee, CIO, Government Pensions Administrative Agency.

Telkom is Africa’s largest telecommunications company.

“Telkom plays a leading role in South Africa’s digital revolution, providing the latest converged ICT solutions for a range of business and residential customers. The Johannesburg region will boost the local infrastructure capability of South Africa and the wider continent, and help organisations kick-start their digital transformation journeys,” said Reubin Layman, CIO, Openserve, Telkom SA.

“Our deep partnership with Oracle has always been one of Accenture’s most strategic and important initiatives to help our clients leverage the cloud and thrive in a cloud-first world. In this era of rapid transformation, cloud has proven to be a powerful tool for organisations to master change – in fact, we have found that cloud-focused organisations in Africa and Asia Pacific were able to achieve 1.5 times more cost reduction and were reported to be 3.7 times more likely to innovate as compared to their competitors. We have seen the benefits Oracle Cloud Infrastructure brings to our clients and know that the Oracle Cloud Johannesburg Region will further accelerate organisations’ cloud adoption and their ability to become agile, intelligent and digital businesses,” said Kgomotso Lebele, Technology Lead, Accenture Africa.

“Public cloud services adoption is accelerating at CAGR of 25 percent year on year between 2020 and 2025 in Sub-Saharan Africa and IDC projects that the growth momentum will continue. The role of cloud in enabling innovation is underscored by the priority organisations have given to it as part of their digital transformation initiatives. Cloud-based technologies have helped organisations weather the COVID-19 crisis and cloud is now helping them build resilient organisations that can withstand uncertainties. Our survey of CIOs in South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria highlights that an in-country data center is an important factor for 60 percent of organisations that are planning to adopt cloud over the next 12-18 months. The Johannesburg region will boost regional cloud infrastructure availability. IDC believes that cloud has become an inseparable element of an organisation’s digital transformation and innovation roadmap,” said Mark Walker, associate vice president, Sub-Saharan Africa, IDC.

“Supply chain is mission critical. Kӧrber’s unrivaled portfolio of supply chain software, spanning WMS, voice, robotics and beyond, empowers businesses to turn what were once warehousing and logistics challenges into strategic differentiators. Our work with Oracle takes this to another level, enhancing our capabilities with the power of the cloud. We look forward to the possibilities our solutions and the Oracle Cloud together will bring the industry in South and Sub Saharan Africa and globally”, said Joe Couto, executive vice president, robotics and 3PL at Kӧrber Supply Chain Software.

Preparing Africa’s Next Generation for the Digital Economy

In South Africa, Oracle has initiated an annual “Graduate Leadership Program” to address the skills gap in the local ICT industry and creating employment opportunities for South Africa’s youth. The program focuses on equipping disadvantaged South African students with specialised technology and leadership skills that prepare them for a career in the IT industry. Since its inception in 2014, more than 200 graduates have completed this program with several securing permanent employment with Oracle partner companies and other organisations.

High Availability and Disaster Protection

Oracle’s strategy is to meet customers where they are, enabling customers to keep data and services where they need it. Customers can deploy Oracle Cloud completely within their own data centers with Dedicated Region and Exadata Cloud@Customer, deploy cloud services locally with public cloud-based management, or deploy cloud services remotely on the edge with Roving Edge Infrastructure.

OCI’s next-generation architecture provides a high-performing, resilient foundation for cloud services, while its physical and virtual network design maximizes performance and security. For example, each Oracle Cloud region contains at least three fault domains, which are groupings of hardware that form logical data centers for high availability and resilience to hardware and network failures.

Sustainability

Oracle is committed to sustainability and has pledged to power all Oracle Cloud regions worldwide with 100 percent renewable energy by 2025.  Several Oracle Cloud regions in North America, South America, and Europe are already powered by 100 percent renewable energy, and all Oracle Cloud regions use state-of-the-art energy management and cooling technologies to minimize their impact on the environment.  As part of its clean Cloud initiative, Oracle reused or recycled 99.6 percent of its retired hardware in FY21 while strictly adhering to Oracle’s data privacy and security practices.

Cloud Regions Deliver All Cloud Services and Multicloud

Oracle Cloud regions support every Oracle service and feature and are available to customers anywhere in the world. This includes Oracle Autonomous Database, Oracle Container Engine for Kubernetes, Oracle Cloud VMware solution, and Oracle Fusion Cloud Applications Suite.

OCI’s extensive network of more than 70 FastConnect global and regional partners offer customers dedicated connectivity to Oracle Cloud regions and OCI services – providing customers with the best options anywhere in the world. FastConnect provides an easy, elastic, and economical way to create a dedicated and private network connection with higher bandwidth, lower latency, and more consistent performance versus public Internet-based connections. Partners available at launch for the Oracle Cloud Johannesburg Region include Colt, Telia, Equinix, and Megaport.

In addition, OCI and Microsoft Azure have a strategic partnership that enables joint customers to run workloads across the two clouds. This partnership provides a low latency, cross-cloud interconnect between OCI and Azure in ten regions (San Jose, Phoenix, Ashburn, Toronto, Frankfurt, London, Amsterdam, Tokyo, South Korea and Vinhedo), federated identity for joint customers to deploy applications across both clouds, and a collaborative support model. Customers can run full stack applications in a multi-cloud configuration, while maintaining high-performance connectivity without requiring re-architecture. They can also potentially migrate existing applications or develop cloud native applications that use a mix of OCI and Azure services.

www.oracle.com

Safozi launches high performance cloud services in Tunisia with Sunlight.io Infrastructure Technology

Sunlight.io, the edge infrastructure company, has announced its partnership with North Africa’s leading Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) provider, Safozi. Together they’re bringing high-performance and private cloud services, with local support, to Tunisia and other countries across North Africa.

Sunlight is working with Safozi to deploy high density servers with high core count CPUs, fast SSD and SAS storage and fast networking. This means they can offer their customers, including key Tunisian news outlets and financial services firms, a no-compromise cloud service that combines the ease of cloud with the performance of bare metal infrastructure.

With Sunlight, Safozi’s enterprise customers can benefit from a superior cloud solution that is locally hosted in Tunisia. Safozi can offer a higher performance and lower cost alternative to AWS or OVH. In addition, customers have the flexibility to take advantage of their virtual data center service – allowing CIOs to subscribe to a guaranteed set of CPU, memory and storage resources, which can be sliced into virtual machines that precisely meet their workloads’ needs.

“With Sunlight, we can offer our enterprise customers a superior cloud solution that’s hosted locally in Tunisia, with local support and at a low cost,” said Zied Ouled Ali, Safozi’s Founder & General Manager. “The Sunlight team has been on hand to help get our new cloud capability up and running quickly. My customers are excited to experience the high performance they can now get from the Sunlight infrastructure.”

Sunlight Founder and CEO, Julian Chesterfield, said, “It has been a pleasure working with Safozi to bring affordable, high performance cloud services to Tunisia and the North African region. Applications running on Safozi’s cloud will now be able to deliver a far higher level of responsiveness to their users which translates to better customer satisfaction.”

Under the partnership, Safozi will also act as a value-added reseller for Sunlight in the region.

www.safozi.com

www.sunlight.io

[South Africa] Cloud provider Routed launches new portal to provide curated resources for its partners

South Africa’s cloud provider Routed, has launched its channel partner portal to provide curated resources for partners, managed services providers, and ISPs selling, marketing, and operating as resellers of VMware Cloud through Routed.

Routed became the first VMware Cloud Verified partner in Africa in 2019 and has gone on to become a VMware Principal Partner, too. Andrew Cruise, managing director for Routed, says that Routed has built a resilient and robust channel to assist its partners in delivering the best solutions that their end-customers have come to expect from VMware. 

“VMware has a discerning customer base with specific requirements of their cloud technologies. Building our Partner Platform has allowed us to curate and focus our efforts on providing our partners with the right tools, material, and support for VMware Cloud presence in Africa through Routed,” says Cruise. 

Sumeeth Singh, Cloud Provider Business Head at VMware South Africa, added that “Cloud computing solutions are driving the current wave of digital innovation. Through partners like Routed and their channel, we see the acceleration we look forward to, in an age where organisations big and small can benefit from a secure, efficient, and scalable VMware Cloud service delivery platform.”

According to Gartner, spending on the public cloud is forecast to grow over 18% in 2021, with Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) expected to gain the most. Managed Service Providers, ISPs, even ISVs and distribution partners will do well to capitalise on this as organisations’ needs evolve. The market has already shifted from supply-driven to demand-driven, and it’s become essential for all organisations to consider how the cloud fits into their infrastructure plans.

On-premises infrastructure will always have its place in organisations, especially when more control is required, but it is asset-heavy and slow to adapt to change and growth. For the right use-cases migrating infrastructure to the cloud provides end-customers with agility and cost savings.

Routed depends on partners who can manage the implementation of its solutions, some of the most complete VMware Cloud-based infrastructure deployments available locally. “The opportunity exists for our partners who, with the right resources, knowledge and support from Routed and VMware, can confidently engage with their end-customers to provide the world-class solutions that VMware is renowned for with the level of support and service that they come to expect,” adds Cruise. 

Over the past five years, Routed has established itself as the leading provider of VMware Cloud on the continent. Its success has followed from its relentless focus on providing an integrated cloud platform that addresses enterprise cloud, recovery, and modern application development requirements, which are taken to market through trusted partners.

“The Routed Partner Portal is the start of an exciting journey for cloud and specifically VMware Cloud in South Africa. End-user enterprises deserve a reliable, highly available and secure cloud infrastructure. Now the channel has the resources to grow their skills and access some of the best support materials available to develop this customer base.” Cruise says.

With its Principal Partner status as a Cloud Provider – the highest tiered recognition within the VMware Partner Connect programme – Routed’s partners now benefit from the same level of resources and support that a Principal Partner will enjoy but facilitated by Routed.

“We are changing the cloud landscape, and this is just the start because, at Routed, we want the industry to develop because when the end-customers realise the benefits, we all win,” adds Cruise.

New partner applications to the Routed Partner Portal will commence in 2022 by engaging with the Routed team.

www.routed.co.za

[Africa Cloud Review] Simon Ngunjiri: 2022 will be an interesting year for cloud in Africa

As we come to the end of the year, there is so much to look forward to in 2022 when it comes to cloud adoption in Africa. 2021 was a good year with more African organisations migrating to the cloud, driven mainly by the pandemic. 

According to industry analysts Gartner, Cloud spending rose 37% to $29 billion during the first quarter of 2020. This trend Gartner says is likely to persist, as the exodus to virtual work underscores the urgency for scalable, secure, reliable, cost-effective off-premises technology services. In fact, despite the inevitable economic downturn in the wake of the pandemic, cloud spending is estimated to rise 19% for the full year, even as IT spending as a whole is forecast to fall 8%.

Gartner notes that cloud has proven essential to enterprises’ digital resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic. Service providers’ ability to capture growth opportunities in a $150.3 billion market by 2024 is contingent on providing the enablement of a secure hybrid workplace and cloud-based services.

At the same time, Big Tech companies will continue to invest heavily in network connectivity and partner with carriers and operators for cloud or last-mile connectivity. Expect Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Meta to diversify their strategies in 2022 as a way to own not just the content and data on the internet, but physical infrastructure and services.  This is according to a report by eMarketer.

Craig Holmes, Technology Executive, IBM Southern Africa in an article published on IT Web Africa notes that as we enter 2022, the case for hybrid cloud has never been clearer. 

‘’First, the cloud is here to stay. It may seem obvious now, but not so long ago, we all hotly debated the nature and impact of the cloud. That is all history now. Adoption rates have increased, and we can look at 2022 as the post cloud adoption year. Now, organisations are planning for the even longer-term future with cloud at the core as they digitalise their operations and prioritise innovation’’ Craig says.

According to IDG Connect, as more organisations move towards a cloud-first strategy, we can expect to see new capabilities, improved efficiencies and scalability and customisation from cloud service providers (CSPs) as they vie for a bigger slice of the pie.

Forrester, for example, predicts that the general-purpose cloud has had its time, and that in 2022 we can expect to see the growth of specialised industry clouds, with solutions tailored for each sector.

Simon Ngunjiri Muraya is Google Cloud Architect at  Incentro Africa.

IBM and MuleSoft partner to help accelerate flexibility across public and private clouds

IBM and MuleSoft have announced a global relationship. MuleSoft plans to extend its Anypoint Runtime Fabric, a container service for multi-cloud and hybrid deployments, to run on Red Hat OpenShift, the industry’s enterprise Kubernetes platform.

IBM and MuleSoft plan to deliver increased integrations and solutions around the IBM Z product family to support financial services and other mutual customers. In addition, IBM plans to significantly expand its overall investment in integration software and industry expertise, including increasing the number of MuleSoft-certified professionals in its consulting services organization.

According to the latest State of Salesforce report from IBM and Oxford Economics, nearly 30% of innovation activities and ecosystem, workforce, and customer engagement will be virtualized by 2023.

The shift to digital-first customer and employee experiences has created more data from more systems than ever before – and delivering these connected digital experiences will require seamless integration of data, potentially across multiple siloed systems.

Empowering companies to deliver seamless digital experiences, faster

IBM and MuleSoft plan to make it easier to securely connect, compose, and automate business processes and modernize applications at scale:

In collaboration with Red Hat, MuleSoft will extend Anypoint Runtime Fabric to Red Hat OpenShift as a certified OpenShift application, unlocking increased flexibility for companies to deploy APIs, integrations, and automations across public and private clouds.

Today, 85 of the world’s top 100 banks run on IBM Z. MuleSoft supports IBM Z Digital Integration Hub, making it easier for joint financial services customers to integrate core business applications and share real-time, industry relevant information with MuleSoft.

IBM Z Digital Integration Hub creates flexible, efficient real-time information flow multiple systems of record on z/OS and cloud environments while also optimizing costs.

MuleSoft complements IBM Z Digital Integration Hub by allowing customers to securely share current information stored in the Z Digital Integration Hub via reusable APIs and easily integrate it to external applications with clicks, not code. To provide even more options for clients, MuleSoft also provides a CICS connector via the IBM CICS Transaction Gateway.

Together, IBM and MuleSoft plan to accelerate integration with core systems and faster development of hybrid cloud applications, as well as support for governance, risk and compliance requirements.

As a part of the IBM Z and Cloud ModernizationCenter, a digital front door to a vast array of tools, training, resources and ecosystem partners, MuleSoft will help joint customers accelerate the modernization of their applications, data and processes in an open hybrid cloud architecture.

As part of the commitment to its longstanding Salesforce practice, IBM Consulting is also significantly increasing the number of MuleSoft-certified professionals to support intelligent workflows, automation, and industry-focused use cases that accelerate digital transformation. IBM Consulting, a global Salesforce partner, harnesses the industry expertise of certified Salesforce and MuleSoft practitioners to help companies deliver key business outcomes and scale innovation faster.

www.ibm.com

www.mulesoft.com

[Africa Cloud Review] Simon Ngunjiri: Digital Marketers and now taking full advantage of cloud

Most African organizations are turning to the cloud to help them succeed in the face of the growing demand for flexible workplaces. As we mentioned in our previous column in countries like South Africa, although only around 5% of the South African enterprise market is fully on the cloud, many more are now considering this option.

Hybrid work scenarios, e-commerce modernization, distance learning, and online religious services, formerly unthinkable worldwide, are now commonplace thanks to cloud computing. This is according to a recent whitepaper published by Pawa IT Solutions, a Cloud Solutions provider for Africa. 

One other area that is also taking full advantage of the cloud is the digital marketing industry.

According to the Power IT solutions report, integrating emerging technologies, adapting to the shifting work landscape, heightening digital trust, and harnessing the power of the hybrid cloud platforms are just some of the strategies that agencies and advertising firms are utilizing to increase collaboration.

Cloud computing has made it easier for small marketing agencies to get momentum and cooperate, making it easier to compete.

With cloud, digital marketers may employ a wide variety of analytical tools provided by cloud computing in addition to the data of their customers. These tools may help them better understand their customers better and also use them to follow leads, and identify the best marketing channels and approaches for their target demographic.  For example, CRM softwares hosted in the cloud may help companies better understand their customers’ wants and requirements.

According to a report by Research and Markets, the global cloud advertising market size is expected to grow at a CAGR of 19.6% during the forecast period, to reach USD 6.7 billion by 2026 from USD 2.7 billion in 2021.

The report notes that marketing has evolved to a great extent in the past decade; new forms of marketing have taken over with continuously upgrading tools. Marketers can target the specific customer they want from the comfort of their homes.

Outdoor marketing is no longer the only medium to reach the targeted audience; nowadays, marketers can market their products and services to the target audience they like. Different forms of marketing can help end users reach the exact kind of customer they want. Different types of marketing, such as social media marketing, email marketing, etc. help end-users analyze the target audience.

Data analytics provide marketers accurate details of their target audience so that advertising can be optimized and lead to efficient results. This increasing demand for targeted marketing and consumer analytics bolsters the growth of the cloud advertising market.

Simon Ngunjiri Muraya is Google Cloud Architect at  Incentro Africa.

[Africa Cloud Review] Simon Ngunjiri: Surge of companies moving to the cloud set to continue throughout 2022

On Monday, we published a column by Andrew Cruise is the managing director at Routed. In the column, Andrew notes that one thing the pandemic taught us is that remote work is a viable alternative to large, expensive offices and IT infrastructure and hardware.

Many African businesses have slashed their office space after realising that they could save money while still being fully operational remotely, and moved everything to the cloud.  

“Work from home mandated as a result of the pandemic proved to many organisations that the need for physical hardware and infrastructure is fading as fast as the idea that everyone has to work from an office,” says Cruise.

In countries like South Africa, although only around 5% of the South African enterprise market is fully on the cloud, according to Cruise, many more are now considering this option.

The pandemic as we have highlighted in a previous column has accelerated the move to the cloud.  According to data from Synergy,Cloud spend reportedly increased by 37% to $29 billion during the first quarter of 2020. Companies  Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure also saw unprecedented demand during the early stage of the pandemic.

This surge of companies moving to the cloud is set to continue throughout 2021 as we navigate the future of work in a post-pandemic worldGartner forecasts public cloud services will grow 18.4% in 2021.

“The pandemic validated cloud’s value proposition,” says Sid Nag, research vice president at Gartner. “The ability to use on-demand, scalable cloud models to achieve cost efficiency and business continuity is providing the impetus for organizations to rapidly accelerate their digital business transformation plans. The increased use of public cloud services has reinforced cloud adoption to be the ‘new normal,’ now more than ever.”

In sub-Saharan Africa, Cloud technology has helped business manage the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The third edition of the Cloud in Africa report, released last year notes that most of these businesses are increasingly turning to cloud to improve operational efficiency and COVID-19 has added fuel to the fire.

Moving to the cloud means you’re effectively renting hardware, which removes the hidden costs of mitigating against failures, disaster recovery and maintenance when you run your own hardware. 

Last week, Vodacom Business Africa announced that it’s expanding its Cloud Connect offering across the continent.

“Africa is experiencing a boom in digitalisation. Combined with the disruptions of COVID-19, this is driving many organisations on the continent to seek out the benefits of cloud services. says Wale Odeyemi, Executive Head of Strategic Marketing at Vodacom Business Africa.

Africa Data Centres also officially opened its new 10MW data centre facility in Lagos, Nigeria. The facility is a key part of this expansion as Nigeria is a critical African market in terms of leading the charge for hyperscale customers to deploy cloud solutions to West Africa.

Simon Ngunjiri Muraya is Google Cloud Architect at  Incentro Africa.

[Column] Andrew Cruise: Moving to the cloud – is it right for your business?

If the pandemic taught us one thing, it’s that remote work is a viable alternative to large, expensive offices and IT infrastructure and hardware.

“Many South African businesses have slashed their office space after realising that they could save money while still being fully operational remotely,” says Andrew Cruise, Managing Director of vendor-neutral cloud infrastructure provider, Routed. 

And though only around 5% of the South African enterprise market is fully on the cloud, according to Cruise, many more are now considering this option. “Work from home mandated as a result of the pandemic proved to many organisations that the need for physical hardware and infrastructure is fading as fast as the idea that everyone has to work from an office,” says Cruise.

Here’s what you need to know to make the right decision for your business.

The benefits

Globally there has been a return to office environments whether full time or in a hybrid-approach, but for most in South Africa many employees remain working from home at least for the foreseeable future, says Cruise. “Companies are realising that there’s no need to have on-premises hardware anymore, because cloud provides a much more flexible solution. Even companies that have successfully moved back to the office are seeing a need for cloud services in order to have remote access when needed.”

Furthermore, the cloud is more cost-effective in the long run – with less risk.

“Moving to the cloud means you’re effectively renting hardware, which removes the hidden costs of mitigating against failures, disaster recovery and maintenance when you run your own hardware. Though it may seem expensive to move initially, it can save companies a bundle in on-premise hardware as well as remove the risk of broken or stolen hardware – which could, of course, result in considerable operational losses on top of the physical loss. The good cloud providers are constantly refreshing their equipment, meaning you benefit from constantly improving performance, and won’t have hardware upgrade costs every five years.”

The hurdles

That being said, it doesn’t necessarily make sense to move everything to the cloud. “There’s still some reasons to keep certain things on-premises, including for compliance purposes. But ultimately, the cloud offers a lower total cost of ownership,” says Cruise. 

Secondly, good internet is an essential when it comes to cloud. “Fast, reliable, affordable internet is a necessity for enterprise cloud to prosper.”

Timing is also important, he adds. “We’re expecting a significant shift to cloud over the next five years as companies reach the end of their hardware cycles. It doesn’t make sense to move to cloud if you’ve just upgraded all your hardware and have everything under warranty. But, when the next replacement cycle rolls around, that’s the perfect time to make a move.”

Choosing the right provider

There are several new entrants joining the colocation stalwarts like Teraco in the local market, including Vantage’s new data centre; as well as Oracle building a cloud presence in SA, IBM’s SAP-based cloud offering, and Huawei recruiting new resellers, which is all good news for the growing cloud market, says Cruise.

But moving to cloud should not be done on a whim, he warns. “Do proper analysis of the contract and of the provider, and, critically, whether they’re right for your business needs. Be careful of services at heavily discounted rates – could they be based on ageing out-of-warranty hardware? Many organisations have been lured into discounted contracts, only to find out two years later that they’re locked in and suddenly having to pay large fees and remain contractually bound for a few more years.” 

Routed has recently taken a vendor-like approach to its own business, enabling it to provide partners with the best cloud solutions for their customers. Cruise explains: “We are engaged with distributors here in SA that are already distributing Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure to reseller partners, who are selling that on to the end-users, and we’ve led the market by recently launching the VMware Cloud equivalent here. We use ISP, MSP, IT support companies and developers as our partners because they’re experts in the provision of specialist services and managing their client relationships, while we focus on presenting our VMware Cloud service interface and make sure that it’s available. And that’s really what people want from the cloud.” 

Whether its working from home, the office or anywhere in-between, organisations and their staff are demanding solutions that are flexible and scalable as the world adapts. “Cloud is that solution, but it will come down to the partner that supports the transition that will make or break the decision forever, so organisations need to take care, and choose wisely,” concludes Cruise.

Andrew Cruise is the managing director at Routed.

Vodacom Business expands Cloud Connect offering to support business needs across Africa

The expansion of Africa’s digital economy is gaining momentum, with the potential to reach US$180 billion by 2025, about 5% of the continent’s gross domestic product, according to a recent report released by the International Finance Corporation and Google. To meet the increasing demand for digital services in Africa, Vodacom Business Africa has expanded its Cloud Connect offering across the continent.

Cloud Connect provides businesses with a secure, private, high performance, high availability connection to leading public cloud service providers, including Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services.

“Africa is experiencing a boom in digitalisation. Combined with the disruptions of COVID-19, this is driving many organisations on the continent to seek out the benefits of cloud services. Our Cloud Connect services keep businesses securely connected while providing them with operational agility and access to essential data and software applications to enhance their performance now and into the future,” says Wale Odeyemi, Executive Head of Strategic Marketing at Vodacom Business Africa.

Meeting the needs of businesses today
As the pandemic has shown, businesses need to be able to adapt to market changes, and with speed, to avoid disruptions to continuity. To help with business agility, Cloud Connect clients are able to experience the same fast switch-on flexibility of public cloud with their own WAN/network. Bandwidth choice ranges from 50Mb to 1G depending on the cloud service provider, so clients can scale network capacity to maintain performance as business needs change.

The high-performance connectivity of Cloud Connect enables periodic data migration and replication for continuity, disaster recovery and retention. The low latency connectivity is also able to support key business applications, including storage, big data, development and interactive applications, fast and in a scalable manner. For example, large data sets are quickly transferable for big data computing applications, and huge media files are streamed in real-time to and from the cloud.

In addition, the consistent performance and reliability of Cloud Connect improves application response times, so businesses can use the cloud as an extension of their data centres. High availability with dual diverse connections to cloud data centres ensures redundancy and protection in the event of a network failure.

Cloud Connect is a managed service, giving businesses more time to focus on important activities, and IT resources can be utilised more effectively, in an organisation.

How does Cloud Connect work?
Vodacom Business Africa’s Cloud Connect offers a secure, private connection without the need to redesign existing large corporate networks or experience the traditional delay of dedicated connections to cloud provider data centres. Cloud Connect works seamlessly alongside the IP-VPN and other fixed connectivity products to give organisations a total ‘Ready Network’ solution.

The service directly integrates into the branch sites of a business and is not reliant on the internet. The cloud locations are integrated into the private WAN, effectively seen as another site on the IP-VPN. Different locations in the IP-VPN then share the connectivity to access resources in the cloud.

“We are experiencing an exciting transformational period in the enterprise landscape in Africa. As a leading connectivity provider on the continent, Vodacom Business Africa remains committed in supporting businesses to take advantage of our continent’s growing digital economy and recognise real return on investment on cloud technology. To this end, we continue to leverage our strategic partner networks to provide innovative products and services, affordably, seamlessly and securely to our clients,” concludes Odeyemi.

www.vodacombusiness.co.za