[Column] Anthony Njoroge: The importance of flash storage for the cloud

As cynicism about the benefits of the cloud give way to rapidly embracing digital transformation, companies are finding themselves in a position where they must optimise their infrastructure.

While the modern cloud environment delivers improved performance and more responsive use of resources, it must be configured properly with the relevant hardware in place. This is where flash storage becomes an enabler to help unlock the business benefits arising from effective digital transformation.

There is no arguing about the speed advantage flash provides over more traditional storage options. But perhaps, more importantly, it results in improved productivity and responsiveness within the organisation. Because of the higher input/output operations per second of flash, it can deliver faster response times for those IT services that support the business. It makes it possible for insights to be extracted in real-time from the data warehouse further aiding the decision-making process.

The resultant enhancements in efficiencies that come from flash storage means companies will use fewer CPU cores and cloud cycles. Given how most cloud providers work on a pay-per-use model, there will be a significant cost savings that can be reinvested in other parts of the business.

According to the rule of thumb, flash storage can deliver approximately 10 times the performance of traditional storage arrays with just one tenth of the power consumption. It is therefore not difficult to understand why companies are increasingly adopting flash in their cloud architecture.

Storage flexibility

IT departments have also been exploring using NVMe to reduce response time and storage latency. For its part, NetApp was the first enterprise storage vendor to deliver NVMe/FC on all midrange and high-end all-flash A-series storage. This innovation allows customers using a 32Gb fibre channel to immediately see latencies drop to under half a millisecond.

All-flash arrays also enable storage tiering capabilities. After all, one of the ways to reduce cloud costs is to tier infrequently used data to less-expensive storage formats. However, the public cloud providers only offer data tiering between classes of their object storage offerings. This means that as storage requirements become more dynamic, companies require options in matching the fastest storage with the most critical applications.

By moving this less critical data to more affordable alternatives using a cloud-agnostic solution, such as the NetApp AFF, companies can tier data more strategically to meet both cost and access requirements.

Modernisation

Combining flash performance and application integration, while leveraging the power of the hybrid cloud, organisations can extend the capabilities of their data centres. These combine to make up part of the data fabric that help users unless the full potential of the data at their disposal.

Consider how consistent and integrated data management services and applications facilitate data visibility and insights, data access and control, and data protection and security. Together, these technologies will accelerate digital transformation and allow the business to address its highest imperatives.

All-flash storage has become a vital component in the cloud migration journey. It is something that companies must consider if they are to be effective in their digital transitions and leverage the agility that come from the high performance computing capabilities delivered through the cloud.

Anthony Njoroge is the Product Manager for NetApp at Westcon-Comstor Sub-Saharan Africa

[South Africa] Nedbank enables business continuity and employee remote work with Nutanix

Nutanix, a player in private cloud, hybrid and multicloud computing, has announced that Nedbank, one of Africa’s largest financial institutions, is leveraging the Nutanix cloud platform to improve and facilitate the rapid delivery of its virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) during the COVID-19 pandemic, enabling employees to work from home.

To ensure that the banking industry was able to provide its services and meet customer needs, Nedbank had to find a way for employees to work safely and productively from home.

When the initial COVID-19 lockdown stages were introduced, South African companies were forced to mobilize quickly with only a one-week period for preparation before a complete country lockdown. With approximately 30,000 employees serving more than 10 million clients, Nedbank needed to quickly scale its end-user computing systems to continue serving customers. With Nutanix already implemented, the IT team was able to seamlessly and rapidly extend its VDI solution.

“During the sudden switch to a work-from-home requirement because of the pandemic, we did not have to increase our infrastructure but rather optimize the way VDI is delivered to new users on the same platform,” said Johan van Tonder, End User Computing Senior Innovation Manager at Nedbank. “Using Nutanix, we can now maintain and upgrade mission-critical infrastructure during business hours without impacting any of our operations as well as enable employees to work from anywhere.”

Prior to deploying the hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI)-powered Nutanix cloud platform, Nedbank had a three-tier infrastructure that was siloed and required dedicated IT teams to solve specific problems when they arose. It would take a significant amount of time to fix or restore functional problems, which resulted in a large amount of downtime that negatively affected their customers’ experience. Nedbank knew it needed an environment that would increase performance speed and simplify infrastructure management.

In the past, the IT team would have to schedule overtime on the weekend when no users would be accessing the system to complete updates. Now, the IT team can perform firmware updates during peak office hours with minimal disruptions, if any, to the VDI environment or client systems. Additionally, Nedbank was able to simplify the management of its different clusters across separate physical locations, all from a single management console.

With more than 8,500 virtual desktops in its 160-node environment, it is crucial that Nedbank has an infrastructure in place that can enable employees to continue to work even during a pandemic.

“The method and speed at which Nedbank approached these challenges is a testament to the team’s understanding of the power of a hyperconverged infrastructure software and the downstream operational impact it can have on a business,” said Dom Poloniecki, General Manager, Sales, Western Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa at Nutanix. “Today’s clients don’t want their technology partners to approach their problems with a basket full of new technologies. They want to leverage their existing investments to find incremental value and leverage they are looking for. By leveraging its Nutanix solution, Nedbank is doing just that, stretching and truly deriving value from an existing investment.”

www.nedbank.co.za

www.nutanix.com

Elaraby leverages cloud to deliver efficiency across businesses in Egypt, Africa and Middle East

Riverbed has announced that Elaraby Group, an Egyptian manufacturer and retailer of home electronics, has maximized the value of its Microsoft Office 365 investment by deploying Riverbed® SaaS Accelerator.

 In an effort to enhance user experience and employee collaboration as it advances its cloud-first strategy throughout its vast geographic operations, Elaraby has enabled a faster, more responsive Office 365 experience for its employees by reducing network latency and empowered its teams to be more productive and better equipped to serve customers by deploying Riverbed SaaS Accelerator.

Elaraby has also invested in Riverbed® Cloud Accelerator to speed migration and access to workloads on Microsoft Azure. As a long-standing customer of Riverbed® SteelHead™, the market-leading WAN optimization solution worldwide, Elaraby is now accelerating applications from on-prem to cloud to the client and end-user.

Elaraby is a player in developing and manufacturing consumer electronics and home appliances in Egypt, the Middle East and Africa and the company’s products are widely accepted in more than 60 countries.

The Elaraby business has more than 40,000 employees, 16 commercial and industrial enterprises, over 3,000 sales partners, 17 trade stores across Egypt and approximately 600 after-sales service centers.

Elaraby is leveraging the cloud to deliver the efficiency, agility, and scalability its business demands. To ensure all locations and all employees are seamlessly connected, the company has migrated to Office 365. “Our use of the cloud is significantly growing,” said Medhat ElAraby, Vice President of Elaraby Group. “We have already migrated one of our data centers to Azure, and we are leveraging both PaaS and SaaS.”

While the company had successfully implemented Office 365, issues with network latency, congestion, and last-mile delays were restricting Elaraby ‘s ability to realize the full potential of its investment. As latency could potentially impact many aspects of the business – from direct sales and production, to store management and marketing – Elaraby turned to Riverbed to reduce data transfer costs and optimize speed across the enterprise, compressing data before sending it between sites.

With the support and expertise of Riverbed’s local partner, Global Brands Group, a leading provider of Consulting, Technology and Outsourcing services, the IT team recently extended its Riverbed SteelHead solution with the addition of six new appliances and one software instance in Azure.

 In addition, the company has deployed 3,500 licenses of Riverbed SaaS Accelerator, which accelerates popular SaaS apps up to 10x, as well as Riverbed Cloud Accelerator. In total, 6,000 users at Elaraby now have access to Office 365 and the improved performance across email, Dynamics 365 for Customer Service and Field Service, and SAP, and it has had a direct and very positive impact on retail and production.

“We could immediately see with Riverbed how we could address network latency,” explained Medhat ElAraby. “Since the deployment, Elaraby has reduced data transmission between sites by 60% with, on average, 900GB less data per day. We are now far more efficient in the way data is consumed which is delivering significant cost savings and improving connectivity and collaboration between sites and teams. Riverbed has also helped us improve our data management. The encryption of data is very important to us because all the data transferred in our organization has value, whether it’s sales figures, product designs, or customer insights. Securing our data has helped us maintain our competitive advantage.”

“With its workforce spread across such a vast geography, and its focus on having a cloud-first IT strategy, Elaraby has benefited greatly from the joint value proposition of the Microsoft Office 365 suite and the Riverbed acceleration solutions,” said Mirna Arif, Country General Manager, Microsoft Egypt. “Microsoft and Riverbed have a long-standing partnership globally, and at a regional level this has meant a strong collaboration between our local sales and technical teams. This has ultimately translated to a robust solution that enables Elaraby to offer its employees a consistent and impressive user experience across their collaboration and productivity applications.”

“Cloud-based productivity and collaboration tools such as those in the Office 365 suite are becoming increasingly fundamental to the modern business. The effectiveness of these solutions and their adoption by the workforce ultimately depends on end-user experience which can be easily impacted by poor performance,” said Mena Migally, Regional Vice President, META at Riverbed. “Elaraby ‘s success with Riverbed underpins the value that our solutions bring to the new breed of cloud-first organizations who are looking to enjoy the flexibility and scalability that cloud offers, while ensuring performance remains unaffected by the network latency, irrespective of where applications are hosted and how they are accessed. Elaraby is an innovative enterprise that continuously adopts and implements the latest technologies to accelerate and maintain their leadership regionally. As one of our first customers in Egypt, with a strong decade-long relationship, we are proud to continue to partner and support them on their digital journey.”

www.elarabygroup.com

Fieldcloud SAS joins the Smart Africa Alliance

French-based technology firm, Fieldcloud has joined the Smart Africa Alliance

Smart Africa is an alliance of 31 African countries, international organisations and global private sector players tasked with Africa’s digital agenda. The alliance is empowered by a bold and innovative commitment by African Heads of State to accelerate sustainable socioeconomic development on the continent and usher Africa into the knowledge economy through affordable access to broadband and use of ICTs.

“An essential part of how we work is that we seek to put the private sector first. We believe that our partnerships with companies like Fieldcloud are essential in ensuring that we deliver cutting edge technologies in Africa and move toward creating a single digital market. ”, said Mr Lacina Koné, Smart Africa’s Director General / CEO.

Founded in 2009, Fieldcloud is an edge computing, network connectivity and Industrial Internet of Things (IoT) infrastructure solutions specialist systems integrator focused on energy, resources and telecom market sectors. Fieldcloud SAS works with enterprises to deal with the challenges of moving data between the field, legacy devices, factory floor and the cloud.

Today, fieldcloud’s activities are in IoT hardware design, systems integration, legacy systems digitization, embedded software applications, connectivity solutions, strategic business advisory and consulting. Fieldcloud continues to develop competencies in cutting edge technologies in global satellite IoT communications, IoT systems integration and LPWAN solutions to support projects in energy, telecommunications and resources sectors.

“Multistakeholder collaboration is essential to enable Africa’s single digital market, sustainably. The Smart Africa Alliance fosters a powerful and growing ecosystem of public and private members and fieldcloud is delighted to be of service as we partner together to build capacity, connect people and digitize industry.”, said Mr Matthew D. Smith, CEO fieldcloud SAS.  

With a vision to create a single digital market in Africa by 2030, the Smart Africa Alliance brings together Heads of State who seek to accelerate the digitalization of the continent and create a common market. Launched in 2013 by seven (7) African Heads of State, the Alliance now has 30 member countries, representing over 750 million people and over 40 Private Sector members committed to the vision and the advancement of Africa.

Other private sector members of the Smart Africa Alliance include Facebook, Intel, Orange, Ericsson, Econet, Microsoft, Inmarsat and Huawei among others.

www.fieldcloud.com

www.smartafrica.org

Box appoints former Google Cloud Executive Sebastien Marotte as President of Box EMEA

Box, Inc., the Content Cloud, has announced that Sebastien Marotte will be joining the Box Executive team as President of Box Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), effective June 7, 2021.

The appointment underscores Box’s continued commitment to the region where the Company recently announced a new office opening in Warsaw, Poland, and its recent acquisition of SignRequest, a European electronic signature company.

“Sebastien is joining at an exciting time for Box, as we’re continuing to grow our international presence and amplify the power of the Content Cloud,” said Stephanie Carullo, COO of Box. “Sebastien has comprehensive knowledge of the EMEA business landscape, and extensive experience leading in multiple markets. We’re thrilled to welcome him to lead our EMEA operations.”

Over a 30+ year career, Sebastien has held executive roles at some of the world’s highest-profile software companies including Google, Hyperion, and Oracle. He most recently led Google Cloud’s EMEA Channels as Vice President, having previously served as Vice President of Google Cloud EMEA for eight years. As an early leader at Google Cloud, Sebastien was responsible for much of the foundational growth and development across EMEA, including the launch of G Suite (now Google Workspace).

“The pandemic has accelerated the pace of change for just about every company on the planet, and the move to the cloud has never been more urgent,” said Sebastien Marotte, incoming President of Box EMEA. “As more companies realize that their businesses run on content, the demand for a secure platform for managing all of that content in the cloud will continue to grow. I strongly believe that Box has the strategy and team in place to capture this amazing opportunity, and I’m incredibly excited to join at this important part of the journey.”

Sebastien holds a Master’s degree in Finance and Business from ESLSCA Business School Paris. He also serves as a board member at Temporall.

www.box.com

Incentro Africa becomes first company in Africa to achieve Google Cloud Partner Work Transformation Specialization

Incentro Africa, an IT service provider delivering custom build software solutions for the European and African market, is leveraging its novel cloud solutions to enhance the capacity and efficiency of businesses. This, as it migrates thousands of employees into integrated suite of applications as they adapt to the new normal in the wake of disruptions occasioned by COVID 19.

As demand for solutions that embrace remote operations burgeons, Incentro Africa has been working with banks, government institutions and businesses by deploying cloud-based solutions like Google Workspace and Chromebooks and Cloud infrastructure that have bolstered security and enabled companies to cut operational costs.

To showcase its expertise, Incentro is proud to announce that it has  achieved the Google Cloud Partner “Work Transformation” Specialization, a development that gives any organisation looking to deploy collaboration solutions, the confidence that  with Incentro, they are in experienced hands and best placed to provide  services across all project work streams – such as technical implementation, change management, training and ongoing premium support.

The Google Enterprise Work Transformation Specialization is the highest level of technical achievement for a Google Workspace Partner.   The specialization indicates success deploying Google Workspace to Enterprise organizations, which includes providing services for establishing governance, technical implementation, training people, processes, and support.

Dennis de Weerd, CEO, Incentro Africa: “Being a Google Premier Partner is great, because it shows top level expertise on Google Cloud. Having a Specialization is even better, since it really proves our domain knowledge. While Google Cloud is very broad, this specialization emphasizes our expertise in guiding enterprises to a cloud-native workplace, so customers know they are catered for fully according to Google Cloud’s high standards. It embodies the investments and dedication from an experienced team.”

Customer success

At the height of the pandemic, Incentro Africa, working with the Africa Google Cloud Distributor Digicloud Africa, partnered with The Central Bank of West Africa States to roll out Google Workplace in seven days for the 1300 employees located across eight countries without interrupting service or productivity. This resulted in increasing customer and employee satisfaction with a more connected but remote workforce.

Tiéguélé A. Coulibaly,Chief Information Officer, Central Bank of West Africa States: “Google has given Central Bank of West African States employees a different way to work. Remote workers now have expanded and highly efficient ways of accessing and collaborating on the go. We’ve saved 40% on total per-user cost, reduced IT hours spent maintaining our environment, have had 60% fewer email related tickets, complied with our Industry’s data protection regulations, and on top of that we’ve had no downtime in the last 6 months.”

Kenya’s Kilifi County was among the first to record cases of COVID-19. To tame further spread the county government encouraged its staff and the public to work from home.

Partnering with Incentro Africa, the County  government introduced Google collaboration solution that enabled its workforce to collaborate efficiently irrespective of where they were working from. To ensure that the governor was in constant communication with his staff and updating the county on the steps the government were taking to manage the virus, he seamlessly leveraged the power of Google hangouts to hold virtual meetings with his cabinet, with impressive results.

Hon. Amason Kingi, Governor, County Government of Kilifi: “This enabled us to quickly make decisions and resolutions on where to set up the Isolation Centres for COVID-19 victims, brief the publicH on our Corona preparedness, and how we can join hands to curb the spread of the virus.”

African financial services provider SBM Bank Group upon its entry in Kenya in 2017 and acquiring Fidelity Bank and Chase Bank explored ways of consolidating domains into one. Collaborating with Incentro, the bank moved 950 users from Chase Bank and 160 from Fidelity Bank to SBN Bank in less than a week.

Sahil Arya, VP and Head of IT, SBM Bank of Kenya:“The G Suite experience is seamless, the ease with which the products are integrated gives our employees the power to achieve anything they needed.” .

As more companies embrace cloud computing due to its proven record in fostering business continuity during a time of crisis, Incentro Africa is looking to work with partners in addressing the future of work needs.

Gregory MacLennanCEO, Digicloud Africa: “Cloud computing is pivotal in empowering many organizations to continue operating through an unprecedented crisis that could have easily brought many to their knees. Overnight, companies had to adapt to a completely different way of working.  For many organizations, cloud technology has been vital in facilitating the shift to remote working. Without the cloud affording employees the ability to securely connect business continuity would simply not have been possible.  Cloud computing enabled companies across Africa to survive, and is now a catalyst for those same companies to thrive and innovate.”

www.incentro.com

Isuzu Motors South Africa extends SAP landscape to drive sales and customer experience

In today’s Age of the Customer, companies that can offer a consistent, positive customer experience will often outperform their less agile peers.

For one of South Africa’s motoring brands, a divestment by a global parent company sparked a digital transformation process that has helped it break down internal silos and gain a real-time view over each customer to help it deliver a consistently superior customer experience.

“We had been reliant on the systems and processes of our US-based parent company until they divested in 2017,” says Loren Meyer, Department Executive for Information Technology at Isuzu Motors South Africa. “We had to build local capabilities, and since it’s our aspiration to be a leader in the manufacture and supply of vehicles, and to exceed customer expectations, we needed a technology solution that would support our growth plans. We chose SAP technology and Dimension Data as our implementation partner, and have achieved outstanding results to date.”

Isuzu develops, produces and sells commercial vehicles, light commercial vehicles and diesel engines, of which it is the world’s largest producer, having sold more than 85 million diesel engines in the year to date. Isuzu sells vehicles in more than 120 markets and has manufacturing facilities in 30 countries.

Following General Motors’ (GM) divestment from South Africa in 2017, Isuzu was restructured, with Isuzu Japan buying out GM’s production facilities. A new company, Isuzu Motors South Africa (IMSAf) was formed, which today employs 1000 people locally and boasts a network of more than 115 dealers across Africa.

“During the GM divestment in 2017, an agreement was signed to allow Isuzu Motors South Africa to utilise certain GM systems for a period of time,” says Meyer. “However, as part of our localisation we had to develop our own local systems and in-source our resources. We had been working on a locally hosted Isuzu enterprise SAP system that incorporates both the commercial vehicle and light commercial vehicle business processes, and wanted to complement this with an extended landscape that includes a unified SAP Service and Sales cloud solution.”

Previously, Isuzu’s sales team were relying on Excel spreadsheets, CRM tools, emails and portals to log, track and manage customer enquiries. This left them without a complete view over each customer and unable to accurately track the progress of the sales pipeline.

“We wanted an integrated service solution with a single point of reference to create, update and track a customer enquiry,” says Meyer. “We chose to implement SAP Service Cloud, which helped us reduce the number of systems an agent has to use to resolve a call, and enables our teams to resolve customer enquiries more quickly. The built-in analytics tool has empowered our managers to get a real-time view of each call to allow for personalisation according to each user’s preferences or role.”

The project was not without its challenges. The previous system that GM used was isolated outside of South Africa, and the local teams had little control over the data. “We consolidated all our data in an SAP master database that is applied through to the call centre,” says Meyer. “Working off our own data set that we control and can access in real time has been one of the great outcomes of this project.”

Isuzu chose the cloud solution as it forms part of the business’ longer-term hybrid cloud journey. This provides the benefit of automated upgrades and patching provided by SAP. The full integration into the existing SAP system also gives call centre agents real-time access to accurate customer data.

“From a sales point-of-view, SAP Sales Cloud has given us up-to-the-minute information about each customer as well as insights into their preferences,” explains Meyer. “We now have full visibility over private buyers as well as our direct customers, and can take a closer look at precisely who is in our system and who is interacting with the business.”

The Isuzu team were supported throughout by implementation partner Dimension Data. Natasha Govender, SAP CX Manager at Dimension Data, says the implementation has enabled Isuzu to reduce the number of legacy systems and improve the overall customer experience. “By empowering users with a 360-degree view of each customer across both the sales and service teams, Isuzu is now better placed to deliver a seamless and consistent customer experience.”

Meyer says the support from Dimension Data has been invaluable. “Having partners that understand our landscape, business challenges and pain points has been hugely beneficial, as we can collectively discuss, analyse and take action on any changes, allowing us to make more efficient decisions while minimising risk to the business.”

Enabling business continuity in ‘new normal’

While there are still further developments and innovations planned, the implementation has already produced outstanding business results.

“Our implementation coincided with the global COVID-19 outbreak and South Africa’s first lockdown, which meant our user community were required to work remotely,” says Meyer. “Call centre agents could access the SAP Cloud Service solution from their offsite working locations and seamlessly continue to provide the high levels of service and support to our valued customers.”

 Other benefits provided by the SAP Service Cloud module included:

·      The ability to effectively manage increased activity and numbers of customers showing online interest in Isuzu products and aftersales services;

·      The ability to offer financial relief options as well as introduce several service support campaigns relating to vehicle warranties, roadside assistance and other technical services;

·      The ability to route all enquiries and requests directly from the website into the Service module where each lead and service request could be recorded, qualified by a customer care agent, and sent through to the nearest or most convenient dealer.

“This proved invaluable to our national dealer network, who were able to cotact and continue to service our customers during a challenging time when normal business was regulated by the national lockdown protocols,” says Meyer. “The solution also afforded our fleet sales department the ability to continue engaging and building key relationships with. Our direct customers remotely during what is now a completely different – and very challenging – business environment.”

Meyer adds that flexible accessibility and the abilty to work off a centralised customer and product platform has greatly benefited the operational teams. “As a company we are pleased that our business operations have been able to continue uninterrupted during these extraordinary times, resulting in a strong finish to the year.”

Cameron Beveridge, Regional Director for Southern Africa at SAP, points to Isuzu’s ability to understand each customer at an individual level and in real time as a true differentiator. “In today’s Experience Economy, companies that can consistently meet and exceed individual customer expectations will outperform their less agile peers. The outstanding implementation achieved by Isuzu and their implementation partners Dimension Data will serve the business well as it looks to build on its proud legacy in South Africa and beyond.”

www.isuzu.co.za

www.sap.com

[Kenya] FirstWave announces level one partner agreement with Moja Access

Global, cybersecurity-as-a-service company, FirstWave Cloud Technology Limited  has announced the signing of a three-year Level 1 Partner Agreement with Moja Access, part of CSquared Group, a pan-African technology company.

The First revenues to flow immediately under ‘oppt-out’ path to market.

Moja Access is the Kenya-based operating company of CSquared, a panAfrican operator of wholesale and open-access fibre and WiFi infrastructure in Kenya, Uganda, Ghana and Liberia. 

 CSquared currently operates fibre and last mile WiFi networks in these cities, with over 40 mobile operators and internet service providers relying on its infrastructure for serving mobile consumers and corporate customers.

These four African nations had over 10 million Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and over 70 million internet users at the end of 2020. In the initial phase of this partnership, FirstWave has deployed its recently launched FirstCloud™ WebProtect DNS platform for each of CSquared’s four territories for use by CSquared’s operating companies and Level 2 partners.

CSquared’s operating companies’ partners and their end-customers will get the web security solution as part of their internet service on an “opt-out” basis. As a consequence, revenue generation will commence immediately, and end-customers can ‘opt-out’ if, for any reason, they decide they do not want the service.

Moja Access is currently in conversations with customers for uptake of this service. The Partnership Agreement is for a 3-year term with rolling 6-month extension options thereafter and in keeping with FirstWave’s service proposition – democratising enterprise-grade cybersecurity-as-a service – the vast number of MSMEs and Internet users across these 4 African nations can now be protected on CSquared’s network from cyber intruders, on a consumption basis, at an affordable monthly price.

Lanre Kolade, Group CEO of CSquared, said, “We are very excited to have signed this partnership with FirstWave. Our clients, including Telcos and Internet Service Providers, will benefit from FirstWave’s differentiated SaaS products. It will allow us to rapidly deploy and sell on a consumption based monthly pricing model, enterprise grade cybersecurity services to all our clients and their end-customers, large and small.”

FirstWave’s CEO, Neil Pollock explained, “I’m delighted to welcome CSquared Group’s Moja Access as our 8 th Level 1 partner and see initial revenues already flowing from the partnership. CSquared is a fast-growing panAfrican service provider backed by two large global corporations Google LLC and Mitsui & Co. CSquared already delivers robust fibre connectivity and internet access to thousands of end-customers via its 40+ mobile operator and ISP clients. With revenues already delivered, the partnership has had a really positive start.” This announcement has been approved for release by the Board of Directors.

www.firstwavecloud.com

www.csquared.com

HSBC becomes first financial institution to move Corda Enterprise Blockchain Technology on to Google Cloud

HSBC has become the first financial institution to move software  firm R3’s blockchain platform Corda Enterprise on to Google Cloud.

The  move will cut client onboarding times from months to weeks, improving the  client experience and significantly reducing costs.  

The bank currently uses R3’s Corda technology for Digital Vault, HSBC’s custody blockchain platform.  

HSBC is pursuing using blockchain to support the custody of future digital  asset classes. Moving the Corda technology to Google Cloud gives the bank  the option to move more of the transaction lifecycle on to the ledger in future,  including issuing digital tokens instead of paper certificates. 

The Digital Vault service, launched in November 2019, digitises the  transaction records of private placement assets including equity, debt and  real estate. This enables global custody clients to access details of their  private assets directly and in real-time instead of having to request a search  of paper-based records. As a result, they can easily keep track of when they  will receive the coupon on a private debt transaction or facilitate an audit of  transaction records. The Digital Vault is currently available in Asia and will be  rolled out in other regions in due course. 

R3’s Corda platform enables businesses to transact directly and privately  using smart contracts, reducing transaction and record-keeping costs and  streamlining business operations. 

Gaurav Aggarwal, Head of Distributed Ledger Technology and Tokenisation,  Markets & Securities Services, HSBC, said: “Being the first organisation to  move Corda technology to Google Cloud is a further sign of HSBC’s  commitment to blockchain and cloud technologies. As well as cutting  onboarding times and reducing costs, it will help us prepare for the future, in  which the full transaction lifecycle could be stored on a distributed ledger.” 

Cathy Minter, Chief Revenue Officer at R3, said: “Blockchain’s potential in  supporting the custody of future digital asset classes is immense, and we  have already seen this in practice with HSBC’s Digital Vault service. As  HSBC moves Corda onto Google Cloud, clients will benefit from faster  onboarding times and reduced costs. Corda was built with the highest  standards of privacy and security in mind. The platform is ideally suited to  empower HSBC’s global custody clients to access details of their private  assets securely, and in real time.”

Derek White, Vice President, Global Financial Services, Google Cloud, said:  “As HSBC prepares for the future of banking, we are proud to provide the  speed, scale and security of the best of cloud technology to connect  consumers, businesses and ecosystems in new innovations.”  

www.hsbc.co.uk

cloud.google.com

[Africa Cloud Computing Review] Simon Ngunjiri Muraya: Looking ahead

The demand for cloud in Africa is growing rapidly. This demand has particularly been accelerated by the ongoing pandemic that has moved everything online.

With increasing connectivity and availability of reliable and cheap internet across the continent, it has changed the way people work.


Increased Cloud adoption

‘’Cloud is a leapfrog technology, comparable to the introduction of the mobile phone and we are just at the beginning of it. Especially now the pandemic we’ve seen a major uptake in the use of cloud-based solutions, by even the most traditional companies.’’ Dennis de Weerd, CEO at Incentro Africa, told Africa Business Communities during a recent interview.

Incentro Africa is an IT service provider delivering custom-built cloud-based software solutions for the European and African market.

Much of the hype around cloud in Africa is as a result of the adoption of high-end technology and software across different industries as well as advanced next-generation networks by telecommunications operators across different African countries.

‘’For instance, we migrated the Central Bank of West African States to Google Cloud based productivity suite Workspace in less than a week when a lockdown was looming. From working with traditional infrastructure from a central office to a highly secure cloud-based productivity suite that allowed their staff to work from home and boost their productivity with easy to use tools. So there are a few drivers here that boosted the uptake, but it was already unavoidable that this new way of working is the standard.’’ Dennis said.

Cloud computing and economic growth

Cloud  computing has the potential to significantly bolster economic growth through the provision of cost savings and efficiencies, including the cost of management of data and security.

Africa’s cloud services industry may still be in its infancy, but it’s now  showing signs of growth. According to Xalam Analytics’ The Rise of the African Cloud report, only five African countries were considered “cloud ready” in 2018. However, another 11 of the 20 remaining nations were “on the cusp” of being ready to adopt the cloud.

Looking ahead, there’re so many cloud computing that we expect to loom large, especially in 2019.

African Cloud Market

Forrester Research notes that the global public cloud infrastructure market will grow 35 percent to $120 billion in 2021, as the cloud continues to “take centre stage” in the recovery from the pandemic. In Africa, Xalam Analytics estimates that the continent’s ICT industry will see its revenues surge to $2 billion by 2023, with the cloud leading this growth.

What does this mean for cloud service providers?

Dennis de Weerd, CEO at Incentro Africa: ‘’For us, it means we are substantially investing in technical knowledge and growing our team of certified Cloud consultants rapidly so we are ready when it does. It’s good to understand that when we started in Kenya there were no certified Google Cloud Architects in the whole country, so in order to offer this service, we need to train and certify talented technical consultants to do this work.’’

Demand for Data Centers

Africa is currently facing an uneven data centers deficit. More than two-thirds of the continent’s capacity sitting within South Africa. Egypt, Nigeria, Kenya, and Morocco also have larger concentrations of facilities compared to most of the countries on the continent. Mauritius has an outsized number of data centers compared to its size and population, especially compared to neighbouring Madagascar.

Xalam estimates nearly half of Sub-Saharan Africa’s economic output and broadband connections are served by just 10 per cent of existing data center supply. The report says 15 countries have a deficit between 5MW and 10MW of data center capacity, with 20 facing a capacity deficit higher than 10MW.

“At the onset of a new decade, it is increasingly acknowledged that Africa needs a lot more data center capacity than is currently available,” says the Growing Africa’s Data Center Ecosystem: An Assessment Of Utility Requirements report.

Cloud and digital transformation

Cloud Computing empowers digital business transformation and for businesses to remain competitive, they must embrace cloud and other digital transformation processes.

The world is continuously evolving and African companies need to drive their activities to new forms of tech such as cloud.

Bottomline, as the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) says in its Cloud Computing in Africa Situation and perspectives report, the experience of African countries to date points to cloud computing technology being used at different levels.

‘’Indeed, while a given administration may only now be preparing to introduce this new technology, it may well be the case that 50 per cent of the country’s ICT operators have begun to implement or are already using it’’
Simon Ngunjiri Muraya
 is Google Cloud Architect at Incentro Africa

www.incentro.com/en-ke