[South Africa] BCX fully acquires software firm DotCom Software Projects to push cloud adoption

BCX, one of Africa’s largest systems integrators and digital transformation partners, has acquired 100% of the shares in DotCom Software Projects  (“DotCom”).

The acquisition will see BCX enrich its cloud services and provide greater value to its clients across key verticals.

“With greater access to on-demand computing power, highly scalable platforms and more flexible ap-proaches to IT spending, cloud computing has gone from an emerging technology to an indispensable business resource, ”said Jan Bouwer, Chief of Digital Platform Solutions at BCX. 

BCX has, over the past year, increased its focus on Cloud Computing with its cloud-agnostic strategy, having recently announced an exclusive rights deal with Alibaba Cloud, one of the largest cloud players globally. The acquisition of DotCom brings this strategy to life by providing greater choice, diversity, and value to its clients. DotCom was founded in 2012 and has become a significant player in digital transformation, specialising in cloud solutions and as a trusted Microsoft Azure Gold partner.

“As a Cloud Solutions Provider, DotCom adds to our own cloud capabilities, specifically with regards to Microsoft Azure, which further drives our cloud agnostic strategy”, said Bouwer.

“BCX is also aggressively growing its capabilities to create a more balanced product portfolio for growth. The acquisition of DotCom combined with existing capabilities at BCX will create a power-house in the cloud space. I am confident that welcoming DotCom into the BCX family will not only bolster our capabilities but will create further opportunities to grow our product portfolio in the future”, adds Jonas Bogoshi, CEO at BCX. DotCom delivers cloud computing-based services and solutions including Cloud software solutions, Cloud Managed Services and Cloud Advisory and Consulting services to companies migrating to cloud computing. Within eleven years, the company has built up a significant client base drawn from a range of industries, including the financial and insurance sectors.

“BCX and DotCom are a natural fit. I think we complement one another and share the same commitment of helping our clients make the transition to secure cloud in a way that strengthens their business and accelerates their growth,” JC van den Heever, CEO of DotCom said. “The cloud computing market continues to grow rapidly as companies move from on-premises solutions to cloud-based systems. Trends emerging suggest that companies will continue to adopt new deployment models, such as edge and cloud-native applications, to shifts in operating models, to remote and virtual desktops. I believe that together we can transition our clients seamlessly through these developments,” adds van den Heever.

The future of cloud computing is increased adoption and discovering new ways to use systems and in-formation in the cloud to drive insights and operational efficiencies. More and more businesses are investing in a hybrid approach that mixes on-premises and cloud-based systems, and the market as a whole is moving towards greater reliance on subscription-based software, infrastructure, and man-aged cloud services. This acquisition marks a significant milestone for both companies, who are ambitious about bringing the business benefits of this investment and greater innovation in cloud computing to their clients.

www.bcx.co.za

[Column] Marilyn Moodley: Cloud Security – Whose fault is it?

At least 95% of cloud security failures in the next three years will be the customer’s fault, according to Gartner. Unsurprisingly, the biggest threat to security is people. Misconfiguration mistakes escalated from 15% of exploitable errors in 2018 to more than 40% in 2021 and human error is now the third most common cause of security breaches, ahead of malware and right up there with social engineering and hacking. Complacency about cloud security is a major contributing factor, but this needs to change. Most cloud services operate under a shared responsibility model in which providers secure the infrastructure, while customers are required to lock down the software stack and applications. In other words, responsibility for patching vulnerabilities and controlling access to cloud accounts still lies with the user.

What does this mean? Organisations need to remain vigilant, ensuring that they take the necessary steps and precautions to secure their data and identities if they’re to avoid becoming an unfortunate statistic with no one to blame but themselves.

Identify, verify, control

No matter the deployment model, sufficient controls are required to govern access and usage. With such a variety of effective Identity and Access Control service providers available today, there is little excuse for businesses not to have these measures in place. Authentication and access control requires users to verify their identity, and secures their access to resources across cloud, SaaS, on-prem and APIs, while increasing speed, agility, and efficiency.

Such IAM solutions make it straightforward to provide the means for customers, employees and partners to all have secure access to the necessary resources. By using identity verification and access control services located in the cloud, the limitations and costs associated with on-premises IAM can be replaced by a more flexible, scalable solution. Cloud IAM is key to ensuring security outside of network perimeters and capabilities include authentication, access management, identity verification, consent collection, risk management and API security.

Access control to the cloud should be regulated through the creation of centralised rules and policies to streamline processes. The use of Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) is critical to ensure the correct identification of individuals trying to access networked resources, while Privileged Access Management (PAM) tools enforce control over sensitive components and applications in the environment.  These tools form part of a larger cloud security picture that includes details such as a zero trust framework, bolstered with cybersecurity mesh, and reinforced with Secure Access Service Edge (SASE).

Zero trust: never trust, always verify

Zero trust is a framework for securing organisations in cloud and mobile spaces by insisting that no user or application be trusted by default. It enables least-privileged access, establishes trust based on context which is informed by user identity and location, endpoint security posture as well as the app or service being requested, while performing necessary policy checks at each step. A well-tuned zero trust architecture leads to simpler network infrastructure, a better user experience, and improved cyber threat defense.

SASE: borderless security

Secure access service edge (SASE) is a framework for network architecture that brings cloud native security technologies together with wide area network (WAN) capabilities to securely connect users, systems, and endpoints to applications and services anywhere. This ensures that data and traffic is secured, no matter where it travels.

Cybersecurity MESH: closing the gaps

Gartner describes cybersecurity mesh as “a flexible, composable architecture that integrates widely distributed and disparate security services”. Concerned with strengthening digital security while bringing tools closer to the assets they’re designed to defend, a cybersecurity mesh architecture (CSMA) encourages organisations to deploy solutions that fit their specific needs by working within their integrated ecosystems. This enables businesses to share cybersecurity intelligence, automate and coordinate responses to threats, and simplify their security operations. CSMA offers a distributed identity fabric that helps establish trusted access across all applications, customers, partners, and workforces.

Achieving visibility and developing security skill sets

Visibility in cloud security means eliminating blind spots that can result in overspending, performance inefficiencies and security complications. This is done through service-centric or role-centric tools, rather than host-centric tools to manage networks. If it is not possible to hire the necessary competencies, organisations will have to develop them. Many vendors offer online resources to help technologists learn the skills they need to become cloud security engineers. In addition to an increase in the need to cultivate the necessary skills, there will be an increase in demand for technologists that have the DevOps skills necessary to align business workloads with the cloud.  Upskilling will also be critical to bridging the skills gap which includes training business teams on how to use cloud tools.

Owning security responsibility

Accordingly, it’s important for businesses to remember that even when they’re purchasing infrastructure, software or functionality as a service, they’re not outsourcing total responsibility for security. This will continue to be a shared responsibility, because it is unlikely that service providers would willingly take on the possibility of being liable for human action or error beyond their control. As such, organisations will need to prioritise the acquisition of or the development of necessary security-minded skills in order to protect their digital assets from cyber harm.

Marilyn Moodley is the South African Country Leader for SoftwareONE.

How the biggest international cloud trends impact Africa

The latter half of 2022 was characterised by significant instabilities in the tech industry. E-retailer and cloud giant Amazon announced that it would cut tens of thousands of jobs, social media behemoths Twitter and Meta laid off significant percentages of their workforce, and even Microsoft saw its slowest revenue growth in five years.

“There’s chaos in the industry internationally,” says Andrew Cruise, Managing Director of Routed, a local cloud platform provider and VMware specialist. “The war in Ukraine has kicked off a period of great uncertainty that’s affected global inflation, exchange rates, and general risk appetite. This follows the boom during the early months of the pandemic, when the tech industry saw such growth that many companies made significant investments in new assets, infrastructure, and expertise. Now that growth has slowed, they’re faced with two options: sit tight and wait it out, or shrink. 

When it comes to cloud, specifically, the euphoria around hyperscale cloud (from providers like Amazon, Azure, and more) has also waned, adds Benjamin Coetzer, Director at Routed. “Firstly, enterprises are realising that hyperscale cloud is better suited to development and not everyday business. Secondly, they’re starting to scrutinise their mounting bills, which have grown significantly as their cloud needs have become more complicated and sprawled.” 

Interestingly, things look a bit different in Africa. Hyperscalers like Azure and AWS only started arriving in South Africa in recent years, while Google, Alibaba and BCX just announced their arrival. “It surprised me to see how many hyperscalers decided to set up shop in South Africa almost overnight, as well as how many datacentre companies and IT players have started investing in Africa as a whole,” adds Coetzer.

However, the current economic climate and insufficient infrastructure across the continent warrant some caution: “There is big demand in South Africa, there is big money in South Africa, and there is good infrastructure in South Africa. But when it comes to cloud, I always say the one non-negotiable precondition to move into enterprise cloud (or for enterprise applications to move into the cloud) is fast, reliable, cheap internet. Only fibre sufficiently provides that, and only in South Africa. In Botswana, Mozambique, Zambia, Kenya and Nigeria fibre penetration is low and it is still extremely expensive at low speeds. No-one else in sub-Saharan Africa has got the precondition for enterprise cloud to be successful. And yet, we’re still seeing demand from people. And I think the demand is misplaced for the moment,” says Cruise.

Worryingly, some hyperscale resellers aren’t giving potential clients the full story – or perhaps they aren’t aware of the conditions on the ground. “They’re delivering the same message in Africa as in the rest of the world, not understanding that Africa can’t deliver on that until local infrastructure improves. South Africa is five years behind the West, and some other countries in Africa are five, if not ten, years behind South Africa. Sure, you can eventually back up your data with an internet connection speed of five megabits per second – but what happens when you need to recover it?”

And then there are the costs to consider. “I think people are going to be surprised by the price increases from AWS, Azure, Google and the like over the next year. Experts in the West are predicting major increases – and that doesn’t even factor in the weak rand.”

Coetzer adds: “Those who don’t need the bells and whistles that developers use and opt for an enterprise cloud will now start seeing significantly more value for their money as that gap increases. Routed’s pricing, for example, has come down in the six years since the company started, while hyperscalers’ prices have kept climbing.

Cruise concludes “I’m hoping that allows people to make better decisions going forward. Many think that IT and cloud is exciting and cutting edge, but what most people really want from the cloud, really need, is for it to be boring. It has to work, all the time, no surprises. And that’s what enterprise cloud does really well. This coming year will bring more of the same, and there isn’t a problem with that.”

www.routed.co.za

[Kenya] iColo expects demand for colocation centres to increase

As internet penetration in Kenya continues to increase, the demand for data centres is also booming. Customers in the country are increasingly using data centres to access public cloud-based services from hosts like Google, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft and others.

Carrier-neutral data centre infrastructure provider iColo expects this demand to go up in the coming years. 

iColo CEO Ranjith Cherickel while speaking during a recent media tour of the firm’s recently opened Mombasa (MBA2) data centre said this increased demand is expected to be in line with the country’s GDP. 

‘’Larger investments are coming from cloud players around the world and they require large resilient systems and this marks a big step in providing colocation’’ he said.

Currently, Africa accounts for less than 1% of the world’s co-location data centre supply, with South Africa accounting for the bulk of the continent’s capacity. Co-location facilities rent space, power and cooling to enterprise and hyperscale customers; they also offer interconnection enabling businesses to scale at low complexity and cost.

In February last year,  a  report from The African Data Centres Association (ADCA) and Xalam Analytic revealed that Africa needs 1000MW and 700 facilities to meet growing demand and bring the rest of the continent onto level terms with the capacity and density of South Africa. 

The reports noted that “At the onset of a new decade, it is increasingly acknowledged that Africa needs a lot more data center capacity than is currently available,”

Ranjith said that we should expect to see a disproportional growth of data centres in countries like Kenya over any other country in the region. 

‘’Colocation in the region will grow well, but in Kenya certainly better’’ he said. 

MBA2 is Icolo’s third data centre providing an estimated capacity of 1.8 megawatts and 1,200 square meters of IT space. 

The new facility can host over 600 customer racks. The location of MBA2 is in close proximity to subsea cable landing points in Mombasa enabling iColo customers to deploy and connect their infrastructure at the new site. The company says this new facility will grow its African footprint and help connect approximately 1 billion people to the internet expanding its services to tap into Africa’s expanding internet economy.

www.icolo.io

[Column] Hardeep Sound: Cloud, innovation key to East Africa’s economic growth

When the early days of the pandemic pushed industries across East Africa into survival mode, it sparked a wave of cloud adoption that has swept through the region. 

Focused at first on ensuring business continuity, investment into cloud technologies and digitalisation has since helped organisations in the region build greater resilience and unlock new business models and revenue streams. 

Even the most reluctant businesses and their customers have now come online. One of the reasons is that the benefits of greater digitalisation became clear almost immediately. 

Businesses that took the opportunity at the outset to build new capabilities, establish new revenue streams or transform their business models rapidly gained an advantage over those that were slower to transform. 

Consider how the retail sector embraced technology to adapt to lockdown restrictions and reach customers, sell products and improve visibility over volatile supply chains. Many of the businesses that digitised with speed now enjoy the benefit of more resilient business models that are better suited to the demands of the modern economy.

Cloud at heart of region’s future success

For businesses across East Africa, the cloud presents a unique opportunity to innovate, develop new products and services, and scale into new markets or geographies. 

Cloud technologies offer access to services and capabilities that are prohibitively costly for most companies to build themselves. By adopting cloud solutions for key business processes, organisations can drive greater efficiency and optimise their business processes without the upfront capital outlay of on-premise solutions.

Taking advantage of the wealth of cloud-based ‘as-a-service’ solutions can also augment internal capabilities and unlock access to supplier networks, tech skills and other capabilities that were previously out of reach. 

Many businesses have experienced the benefits of such services when the first lockdowns created the need to enable remote work capabilities. By leveraging cloud technologies, businesses could maintain communication with teams and customers and ensure continuity. Today, cloud technologies play a central role in transforming how organisations measure, manage and motivate their hybrid workforce.

As the ripple effects of the pandemic travelled through the global economy, businesses turned to cloud technologies to improve visibility over their supply chains and assist with planning and risk mitigation. When a different, post-pandemic customer emerged, one that demanded greater personalisation, convenience and choice, organisations could once again leverage the power of cloud technologies to enable new ways of engagement with customers.  

Once-in-a-generation opportunity

Now, the region faces a golden opportunity to drive innovation and achieve new gains across their internal and customer-facing operations by leveraging the cloud. 

A recent study revealed that some East African industries have taken the lead with cloud adoption, including the banking, marketing, agriculture and education sectors.

Considering the importance of manufacturing and tourism to the regional economy, organisations operating in these industries should leap at the opportunity to digitise.

Business-to-business spending in Africa’s manufacturing sector is set to reach $1-trillion by 2050, and the sector is well-placed to grow and become more competitive through digitisation. By building Industry 4.0 capabilities underpinned by the cloud, manufacturers could unlock the benefits of AI and robotic process automation with predictive analytics to gain unprecedented control, predictability and operational efficiency.

The tourism sector was one of the hardest hit by pandemic restrictions as international travel came to a total standstill at the peak of the pandemic. Considering the sector contributed 8.1% to the region’s GDP in 2019, the impact of the restrictions on local businesses could not be overstated.  

By leveraging the cloud to build new ways of engaging with travellers and removing friction from the travel process, the tourism sector could tap into a global tourism sector hungry for new experiences. 

Three focus areas for cloud success

Businesses will benefit from choosing priority areas for cloud deployment that can deliver the greatest benefit with the shortest time-to-value, and use the learnings to drive adoption in other areas of the business. 

Based on our work helping organisations in East Africa leverage the cloud for business success, the following key focus areas could offer the most valuable starting points for cloud adoption:

1 Innovate, innovate, innovate

East Africa can benefit from greater investment into innovation and research and development to improve the region’s global competitiveness and lure foreign direct investment. 

The pharmaceutical sector, for example, holds enormous potential for research and development initiatives that can drive economic growth and create new industries while also reducing our need to import product and service innovations.

Regional innovators could consider to leverage the experience and market insight of cloud service providers with experience supporting pharmaceutical innovation. This can help avoid costly mistakes, close the gap on best practice, and ensure there is an optimal technology mix to support innovation. As an example, 18 of the world’s 20 largest vaccine manufacturers run their production facilities using SAP technology, so any new facility can tap into SAP’s domain knowledge to fast-track success.

2 Remove uncertainty from decision-making

The continued volatility in the global economy has created an environment of uncertainty that is hampering growth and innovation. To remove some of this uncertainty, organisations should invest in enterprise resource planning solutions to achieve greater clarity and control over key business functions and core processes. 

Cloud adoption can also unlock access to data and analytics capabilities that can empower decision-makers with accurate insights over their businesses, enabling them to guide the business through challenges more effectively.

3 Aim for speed

One of the greatest advantages cloud offers is speed. Instead of spending long periods of time building on-premise capabilities, businesses can readily tap into a wealth of cloud-based solutions to immediately enjoy efficiency and innovation gains. 

For mid-market organisations, this could unlock opportunities to quickly test new digital channels and trial new business processes. Successful trials can be rapidly scaled to the rest of the business or to new geographies, powering their growth.

Hardeep Sound is the Regional Sales Director East Africa at SAP.

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Cloud in South Africa to increase by up to 50% in 2023.

As most of the working world vacated their premises early in 2020, the cloud market boomed. And it continues to do so today, expanding at around 30% per quarter. In fact, analysts estimate that half of all servers currently being shipped worldwide are being bought by just the top seven cloud providers.

But as the market grows, so do the costs. Public cloud prices are expected to increase by a third in Europe next year as lending rates increase and energy prices soar. While it initially seemed like public cloud would become increasingly more cost-effective, the opposite happened. This year, Amazon’s AWS and Microsoft even admitted that their customers have realised their cloud costs are out of control. In one survey, over 80% of IT leaders said they have begun to halt cloud spending.

There are several reasons for the sprawling costs, says Andrew Cruise, MD of VMware Cloud provider Routed. “First, as the hype around public cloud grew, many businesses started migrating to cloud without doing the necessary proper planning. Careful planning and deployment, using optimised architectures instead of what seems to work for others, can mitigate costs. Secondly, multi-cloud environments have grown increasingly complex, with no comprehensive visibility. Organisations are running different services on the cloud provider that best meets their needs for the given application, with no overarching system to link all these siloes, and have hit a complexity wall – with no way to overcome it within existing budgets and resources.”

But, on the other hand, those who remained on-premises or even migrated back from cloud to on-premises when they hit the proverbial wall, are looking longingly at those who did their homework and are now happily fully functional in the cloud. “The benefits cloud offers are numerous – increased agility and efficiency, longer-term hardware efficacy, greater security, convenience, and scalability. And, yes, it comes at a cost,” says Cruise.

“At first glance, managing your own infrastructure looks less expensive. Cloud adds up over time and amounts to a larger number than the once-off cost of on-premises infrastructure. But when making these calculations, many forget to add the hidden costs: The expertise needed to run the infrastructure, the software and hardware warranties and software licencing or subscriptions that need to be renewed, and the inevitable cost of eventually replacing hardware.” 

The good news is that it’s not an either-or decision. “The truth is that every enterprise’s requirements will be different and there is no magic cloud bullet that can meet every need. Those who focus on development will likely want to look at hyperscalers that offer bells and whistles. For those with more straight-forward business needs, that would be a waste and VMware Cloud would make more sense. For others, the solution might be a little of one and a little of the other. Some might even need to keep certain workloads on-premises due to regulatory requirements.”

Though the cost of VMware Cloud licensing is increasing by 10% too, that’s not quite the same rate as public cloud’s 30%. “With the worsening exchange rate, my guess is that most South African VMware Cloud Operators will be increasing their prices in 2023. AWS and Azure rand-denominated price increases are inevitable – rampant dollar inflation and the broad 25% rand/dollar exchange rate deterioration have also not yet been taken into account and I predict increases of 35-50% in the next 12 to 18 months.” 

At Routed, however, we’ve decided to absorb these costs. In fact, we haven’t upped our prices since our inception – the benefits of an increasing economy of scale. We are more akin to ‘enterprise IT’, and our IT Channel Partners are less likely to suffer from the inflationary pressures that the native hyperscale cloud are subject to. Whatever cloud solution you choose, know that proper planning can prevent unreasonable costs later – and you’ll then have the best of both worlds.”

routed.co.za

[South Africa] Teraco breaks ground on JB5 – A 30MW data centre expansion to the Isando Campus

Africa’s interconnection hub and vendor-neutral data centre provider Teraco has commenced construction on a new hyperscale data centre facility with 30 megawatts (MW) of critical power load at its Isando Campus in Ekurhuleni, east of Johannesburg, South Africa.

The facility, known as JB5, is scheduled for completion in 2024 and will incorporate the latest environmentally sustainable cooling and water management designs.

CEO of Teraco, Jan Hnizdo, said that the company continues with solid growth as enterprise and hyperscale requirements continue apace due to sustained demand for hybrid cloud deployments and the adoption of cloud services in Africa. “South Africa is a springboard for cloud provision into Africa and, as a result, has become the technology and data centre hub for sub-Saharan Africa. Massive global investments into undersea cables, like Equiano and 2Africa, further strengthen this position. This will enable global cloud providers to service not only the South African market but also the rest of the sub-Saharan African region.”

“Teraco is committed to growing its capacity footprint across its core hubs. We ensure our clients have the flexibility to scale and take advantage of the digital transformation across sub-Saharan Africa. We continue to invest significantly in the region’s ICT infrastructure and have built Africa’s largest data centre platform. We take pride in enabling open access interconnection and providing world-class data centre infrastructure for all our clients,” concludes Hnizdo.

The JB5 facility is Teraco’s eighth data centre development located in the heart of Ekurhuleni’s Aerotropolis. It is here that Teraco’s data centres already provide access to a wide choice of network service providers, peering at NAPAfrica, regional IXPs, content delivery networks and cloud provider on-ramps. Hnizdo says that this expansion aims to further support sub-Saharan enterprises by advancing their digital transformation strategies and enabling global cloud providers to expand their footprints —spurring innovation.

JB5 has been designed to put sustainability first and minimise its environmental footprint. JB5 will incorporate the latest state-of-the-art cooling designs, a closed-loop chilled water system that incorporates 100% free air cooling. This design will bring about industry-leading PUEs, thereby reducing the energy consumed and limiting water used in the ongoing cooling process to zero. 

JB5 is the latest expansion to Teraco’s growing data centre platform and takes critical power load capacity at Teraco facilities to 156MW, which includes the Isando Campus facilities; JB1/JB3/JB5 (70MW), Bredell Campus JB2/JB4 (64MW), Cape Town Campus CT1/CT2 (21MW) and Durban (1MW).

Organisations working to accelerate their digital transformation utilise Teraco to dynamically scale their IT infrastructure, adopt hybrid multi-cloud architectures and interconnect with strategic business partners within the Platform Teraco ecosystem of global and local clients.

www.teraco.co.za

[Column] Benjamin Coetzer: The cloud conversation has changed, it’s faster, smarter and better for business

At the start of the pandemic, anything that could facilitate remote work for scattered business teams, flourished overnight. Microsoft saw two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months. Video calling company Zoom’s sales went up 370%. And communication platform Discord’s value more than doubled. 

And cloud is no different. In 2020, 87% of global IT decision-makers concurred that the pandemic would accelerate the shift to cloud.

And it has, says Benjamin Coetzer, Director of Routed, a local VMware Cloud Verified and VMware Principal Partner. “This digital transformation was and still is a global phenomenon, South Africa included. We’re still seeing more spending on all kinds of IT avenues that revolve around facilitating remote work. People are moving into the cloud, getting rid of their on-premises data centres, getting remote VPN software and end-user device protection software – generally mobilising the workforce to work from anywhere.” 

Different clouds, different companies

During the pandemic, many companies started doing more research on cloud migration and deepened their understanding of the cloud environment. “Before, the market had a superficial understanding of cloud – they’d only ever heard of cloud hyperscalers like Google and Azure and thought the cloud was only meant for developers. Now, businesses are learning about the different types of cloud, each with its own ideal use case. They’re doing more research because they were pressed to do so during the shift to remote work. They’re making smarter decisions when planning their shift to cloud,” says Coetzer.

Hyperscalers are more suited to development, while VMware cloud providers are ideal for business use cases. And moving to the right type of cloud not only means a better cloud environment, but also an easier migration, he explains. “Moving to a hyperscaler is a slow and error-prone process for a company running VMware or Hyper V on premises. But moving to VMware cloud is extremely easy. It truly becomes a lift and shift operation, taking their workloads that are running on-premises and migrating it to a cloud provider like Routed. There’s no re-platforming needed, there’s no retooling needed, there’s no retraining of IT staff or a change in IT or business processes. It’s basically like outsourcing the entire hosting function from a physical data centre to cloud.”

Previously, many people made the mistake of moving to hyperscalers when they didn’t need to. “Again, hyperscalers like AWS, Azure, Google or Alibaba Cloud are focused on development, so they use a different underlying platform. “There’s a lot of pain involved in migrating virtual workloads from a traditional hosting platform to a hyperscale provider.  It’s like trying to modify a petrol engine to run on diesel.” 

Cloud migration timeframes

When choosing the right type of cloud, migration timeframes can be drastically shortened, says Coetzer. Now that people understand the different cloud environments better, they’re making better decisions and fewer mistakes, leading to shorter migration timeframes. “One of our clients decided to let go of their physical offices and data centre in its entirety when all their employees started working from home. And they moved over to the cloud platform in a weekend. They were running Hyper V on-premises and simply shifted everything to us. It drastically reduced their spending in terms of rent, power, facilities, and more.” 

For some companies, this was the main driver to move to cloud during the pandemic, he says. “Yes, cloud, is more agile, efficient, and secure, but for many it became a straight-forward budget decision. The alternative would have been to rent space for their servers at a colocation facility, but that becomes extremely costly as well. So, they skipped this step that many others are taking in their digital transformation journey – going from on-premises to colocation to cloud – and went straight to cloud, sparing time, effort, and money in the process.”

But that’s the exception to the rule, he says. For most companies moving to VMware cloud, this journey, from the first meeting to being moved in on router hosting, takes up to six months.

“Moving traditional workloads to a hyperscaler is a much lengthier process – and prone to lead to workload repatriation. A 2019 report done by 451 Research, which interviewed 12,500 companies, found that on average, 30% of workloads migrated had been repatriated within a year of moving. The main reasons for repatriating workloads included performance, cost, and data sovereignty.”

But one thing is sure – whatever cloud environment they choose, the pandemic has caused a ripple effect that’s seeing most people at least seriously considering a move to cloud. And lighter, more agile, and more efficient resource usage will be the long-term result.

Benjamin Coetzer is the Director of Routed.

[South Africa] Teraco completes JB4, the latest hyperscale data centre expansion to the Bredell Campus

Teraco has announced the completion of the first phase of JB4, its new hyperscale data centre addition to the Bredell Campus, Ekurhuleni, east of Johannesburg, South Africa.

The new facility supports the growing demand by enterprises and cloud providers for data centre capacity. JB4 offers highly resilient and secure colocation facilities in line with Teraco’s long-term vision of enabling digital transformation across Africa.

As one of Africa’s economic powerhouses, Gauteng (the greater Johannesburg Metropol) is a logical destination for Teraco’s continued investment in data centre infrastructure on the continent. Home to digitally connected enterprises, including telecommunications, financial services, e-commerce, logistics, and retail, the Johannesburg Metropol benefits from its enviable location in the heart of southern Africa, which has led to it becoming the hub for connectivity and peering.

JB4 represents a strategic addition to Platform Teraco, offering enterprises and cloud providers a scalable platform for IT infrastructure deployment while sustaining performance, reliability, security, and the most comprehensive network choice. The first phase of JB4 comprises 30 000sqm of building structure, 8 000sqm of data hall space, and 19 megawatts (MW) of critical power load. Teraco has secured adjacent land and power for Phase 2 expansion, bringing the total critical power load in the facility to 50MW at the end state.

The JB4 addition to Teraco’s growing data centre platform takes critical power load capacity at Teraco facilities to 126MW, which includes the Isando Campus JB1/JB3 (40MW), Bredell Campus JB2/JB4 (64MW), Cape Town Campus CT1/CT2 (21MW) and Durban (1MW). 

This data centre facility dramatically extends Platform Teraco’s capacity in South Africa, according to Jan Hnizdo, CEO, of Teraco: “Forming a vital part of the African IT landscape, Platform Teraco is an essential part of the modern enterprise’s digital transformation strategy with its diverse industry ecosystems and open interconnection marketplace.” JB4 is connected to all the other Teraco data centres through the diverse ecosystem of network operators in the facility, making it ideal for the distributed interconnection-defined architecture of the modern enterprise.

Hnizdo says that the majority of enterprise organisations are accelerating their digital transformation strategies and placing a greater focus on cloud adoption strategies: “Enterprises are looking for the ability to scale as network strategies evolve, and in a world where fast and secure interconnection with strategic business partners is a priority, this is a source of competitive advantage.” 

Organisations working to accelerate their digital transformation utilise Teraco to dynamically scale their IT infrastructure, adopt hybrid multi-cloud architectures and interconnect with strategic business partners within the Platform Teraco ecosystem of global and local clients. 

Hnizdo said that the company continues to see significant growth as hyperscale requirements expand due to increased demand for cloud services in Africa. “The continued increase of cloud adoption in Africa is also being enabled by investments in critical infrastructure, including hyperscale data centre facilities such as JB4. This will enable global cloud clients to service the South African market and the rest of the sub-Saharan African region.”

www.teraco.co.za

[Column] Fanie Botha: Migrating data from the mainframe to the cloud simplified

Recent advances in automated tools for migrating legacy applications to the cloud have altered the mainframe market. Many companies that rely on mainframes are now migrating to modern cloud-based platforms in order to stay relevant and ultimately, to save costs. 

However, one of the biggest challenges when migrating from any mainframe is moving transactional and master data. These large-scale migrations normally take longer than 18 months and given the scale and complexity of these projects, businesses have been slow to adopt these automated migration tools.

Data migrations always seem simple on paper, but the reality is that 1:1 mappings end up becoming 1:n:1 mappings, with more exceptions than rules. The reasons behind this include the fact that modern enterprise systems, model data objects very differently to how mainframe systems were designed.

The fact is that many of these data migrations that are sold as being ‘automated’ end up being executed by teams of human data capturers and developers. They spend much more time on programming for the deviations in the data than the fields that can map 1:1.

Imagine if one could replace the team of human data capturers with a humanoid robot. It could be trained on exactly the same principles and exceptions that necessitated the use of humans over data migration programs in the first place.

Digital workers are the solution

Well, it’s now possible with FIRtech’s Robotics as a Service (RaaS) solution. It’s an automation tool that makes this task almost effortless, a proven mainframe data migration and modernisation tool that helps companies mitigate their mainframe risks in the shortest possible time and with the least amount of risk.

The data migration robot uses front-end GUI’s to retrieve data from the mainframe and automatically migrate and capture the data into a new system. This removes any risks, where business rules that are built into the system GUI or terminal, are overwritten by the use of back-end scripts.

More importantly, it also ensures that exceptions are caught, fixed and recaptured before any data inconsistency is created in the new system. A single robot can work up to 24 times faster than a human and doesn’t need any rest or sleep. Effortless, errorless data migration in a matter of hours, not days or months.

RaaS provides business leaders with better access to the data captured in these legacy systems. Mainframe data, which contains many years of business transactions, can now be used to feed analytics or machine learning initiatives that can deliver competitive advantage.

By taking advantage of the multiple protocols and interfaces available on cloud services, they can unlock core business processes and data in their mainframe. Companies can now access mainframe data instantly, RaaS will help them move away from rigid monoliths and remove outdated interfaces and protocols.

Cloud is the future, it offers access to advanced analytics, AI, machine learning and data lakes. It also offers horizontal scalability with virtual unlimited capacity to increase scalability and elasticity.

Fanie Botha is the COO at FIRtech Holdings South Africa.