[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.