Hyperscaler, Neutral Carrier, Cloud Player, the 2021 Datacentre Trends, IDC

Datacentres will undergo significant change in 2021. There has been a revolution in behaviours and approaches that is shifting investment and innovation, and how datacentres provide services and provision for data and compliance.

According to Sabelo Dlamini, Senior Research and Consulting Manager, IDC Sub-Saharan Africa, some of the trends include the growth of the hyperscaler, continued reliance on the carrier-neutral datacentre, and a focus on performance and quality as data becomes increasingly invaluable.

“In addition to the introduction and expansion of hyperscalers such as Amazon, Google, and Microsoft, there will also be growth in the carrier-neutral datacentre for cross-connect services, meet-me rooms, and internet exchange points,” he adds. “This is because we are expecting a growth in traffic volumes due to changes in enterprise processes and consumer behaviour because of COVID-19.”

The carrier-neutral datacentre is likely to become key in developing fair playing fields, particularly for smaller internet service providers (ISPs), to have access to different interconnection points and internet exchange points. As emergent technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), and robot process automation (RPA) continue to cement their scope and capability, demand for datacentres will increase, as will the volumes of data generated by the enterprise.  Cloud computing demand will continue to rise, as will the adoption of AI and IoT services that are hosted in the cloud, and this will put a heavy reliance on datacentre capability and ubiquity.

“Mostly everyone will be moving to the cloud so it is critical for every organisation, especially larger enterprises, to see how these changes can impact their business process in the near future, and start to prepare for it,” says Dlamini. “Even if your business is not planning to move, or you think your organisation won’t be affected, your key clients might be moving, and they may expect your processes to be cloud-ready. This is the right time to develop a cloud-ready or digital strategy that ensures the company can survive this transition.”

Everybody is transforming. Competitors, clients, and governments. It is time to ensure that the organisation has the right tools in place to fully leverage the potential of cloud, technologies such as AI or RPA.  This trend towards cloud-ready, digital-native organisation reliant on robust datacentre capabilities, will be further influenced by an increased demand for improved performance and quality of service that will push the datacentre further into the spotlight, and into the critical heart of the organisation.

“There will be a growing need for distributed content delivery networks, and these need to be hosted in regional or local datacentres that are closer to end-users,” says Dlamini. “Additionally, we will see an increased expansion of existing datacentres locally to cater for the growing legal requirements for data to exist within the country.”

On the hyperscaler frontier, the growth and expansion of Amazon, Google, and Microsoft is likely to remain a key driver impacting all these trends. These giants of cloud will continue to evolve their services and reach, allowing for the organisation to reach deeper into its cloud investment and squeeze out every last virtual drop of potential.

“The datacentre trends of 2021 are driven by the need to ensure that organisations have systems and processes in place that are cloud-ready, that can cover both on-prem and off-prem cloud investment, and that can fully support the hybrid cloud model that many sectors require,” concludes Dlamini. “These factors will shape how the datacentre evolves over the next 12 months and it is very likely that continued innovation and investment will further shift the capabilities of the datacentre and how the organisation can benefit from them.”

www.idc.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

Cloud security solutions provider Algress Inc expands into South Africa

Allgress, Inc., a global provider of automated next-generation integrated Cloud Security, Compliance and Risk Management Solutions has announced its opening of a new office in Bedfordview, Gauteng, South Africa headed by Country Manager Neeren Ramharakh.

This international expansion will make Allgress’ industry-solutions more widely available in those regions of the world with more geographically located sales and support.

Ramharakh says “Allgress solutions will allow enterprises to achieve risk and compliance maturity at an expedited rate compared to how enterprises are currently deploying via manual process or outdated technology. Allgress is committed to the GRC environment and our investment into South Africa is the first of many global expansion plans we have going into the future. The South African office will support customers within the Middle East Africa region with emphasis on establishing local partnerships.”  The new office will help raise awareness of GRC in the MEA market and aims to collaborate with partners in highly regulated industry sectors, such as financial services, telecom, utilities and healthcare.

Jeff Bennett, Allgress COO believes South African and Middle Eastern enterprises are keen to adopt advanced certification and risk management capabilities, and says “We are excited to offer our solutions to strengthen their risk and compliance postures, we believe that enterprises will achieve substantial cost and time savings as they deploy our solutions.

“The South African market response has been very good since we entered the country. We see a lot of older, established enterprises working to transform themselves and move away from manual processes. Customers today have high expectations of how they should be served, and big firms are stepping up to transform them as quickly as possible.”

www.allgress.com

Bahwan CyberTek and Lightbend partner to accelerate cloud native modernization in Middle East and North Africa

Bahwan CyberTek (BCT), a worldwide provider of digital transformation solutions,has announced the expansion of its global partnership with Lightbend, the creator of Akka Platform and leader in cloud native architecture.

Akka Platform simplifies the delivery of complex distributed systems with a full suite of Reactive microservices frameworks and runtimes for building real-time, cloud native applications.

BCT will become a system integrator partner of Lightbend in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, where BCT has deep expertise with large enterprise customers across Oil and Gas, Telecom, Power, Banking, Retail and Logistics. BCT will lead digital transformation initiatives based on Akka Platform in key use cases across Predictive Analytics, Digital Experience and Digital Supply Chain Management.

As the MENA region focuses on modernizing applications for the cloud, Akka Platform will give BCT customers major advantages building cloud-native microservices designed to be responsive, scalable and distributed.

Akka Platform is powered by an open source core and brings developers important capabilities across Reactive programming, data streaming and microservices. Lightbend’s customers include major brands like Credit Karma, Hootsuite, iHeartRadio, LinkedIn, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Starbucks, UniCredit Group, Verizon, Walmart, Weight Watchers, William Hill and many more.

“Our partnership with Lightbend comes at a time when many digital transformation initiatives across the region have been driven to high levels of maturity,” said Mr. S. Vishwanathan, Executive Vice President at BCT. “Akka Platform is a great addition and complements our range of specialized IP and services offerings. More importantly, BCT is now better positioned to speed up digital transformation projects and facilitate faster go-lives with our outcome-based business models.”

“The MENA region represents a $160 billion information technology market[1], and Lightbend is excited to partner with its leading reseller servicing the Oil and Gas, Telecom, Power, Banking, and Retail and Logistics industries,” said Jeff Vance, EVP Global Field Operations at Lightbend. “Lightbend and BCT give MENA enterprises the most powerful technology platform and expertise for transformation toward real-time, cloud native application architecture.”

www.bahwancybertek.com

www.lightbend.com

[Column] Kabelo Makwane: Disaster recovery through cloud computing

During the last year alone, we have seen a number of organisations become the latest victims of targeted cyber-attacks and large-scale data breaches, ultimately bringing business to their knees.

Even with the latest and top of the market cyber security defences in place, there is no guarantee that your business is safe. And if the statistics are anything to go by, Check Point Research saw a 50% increase in the daily average of ransomware attacks, compared to the first half of 2020. The question is not ‘if’ your business is next, but ‘when’.

Information is the lifeblood of any organisation and for optimum safety should be secured in the cloud enabling it to be shared and acted upon at a moment’s notice. However, the loss of business data can result in irreversible damage to your business, including the loss of productivity, revenue, reputation, and impact on clients.

For retailers, however, disaster planning comes with additional urgency, requiring businesses to safeguard not only their employees, but customers too at a time when online shopping is expected to peak.

Disaster recovery

Essentially, a disaster recovery plan enables an organisation to futureproof its IT infrastructure against the odds. For retailers implementing the right technology and having a disaster recovery plan in place will minimise the impact of the worst-case scenario allowing your business to respond instantly to the issue mitigating potential negative brand perception.

Security breaches can be the result of intentional actions or accidental ones. While hackers and cyber criminals are motivated by various factors, typically motivations behind a security breach include criminals wanting to gain access to secure information (resulting in a data breach), utilising computing resources for their own purposes (common in crypto-jacking attacks) or crashing the network itself for personal or political reasons.

Cyber security considerations for business continuity are still not a priority agenda across the corporate South African landscape, particularly for smaller businesses trying to manage the crippling effect of Covid-19. But as the threat level escalates, those organisations without security in place need to reconsider their priorities. There are steps that can be taken to prepare and avoid becoming a target. Your business is critical to you, so why would you not secure it to the best of your ability?

With that said, while all businesses should have business continuity plans in place to avoid risks and minimise disaster, retailers operate in a particularly competitive environment and with most consumers going online to avoid in store contact, there is a higher risk. The cloud is an extremely effective place to store all business data in case of disasters and ensure your business remains unaffected in the worst-case scenario.

Cloud hosting with Vodacom Business

A Future-Ready business has information on-demand, at its fingertips and keeps it secure and protected from virtual and physical threats. Collaboration is easier, decisions are faster, and productivity is increased.

Cloud computing is the practice of using a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet to store, manage, and process data. A cloud service is characterised by scalability, managed computer power, storage, platforms and services that are delivered on-demand; allowing customers to provision computing capabilities such as server time and network storage. Cloud computing can be implemented as a private cloud, community cloud, public cloud or hybrid cloud.

Working with a myriad of clients from large scale businesses to SMEs, Vodacom Business adopts a practical approach to cloud computing, understanding that there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution as every business is different. This process can be daunting but will no doubt transform and protect your business.

The risk from IT security breaches is a growing threat with criminals interested in gaining malicious access to your applications and data. At the same time, the ever-increasing number of devices and networks which need protection is growing rapidly and exponentially.

Technology will take your business to the next level and prepare it for the worst-case scenario. As we bid goodbye to a hard year, let the cyber security lessons learned in 2020, future-proof your business in 2021.

Kabelo Makwane is the Managing Executive for Cloud, Hosting & Security at Vodacom Business

[South Africa] Tech company immedia invests R10 million to digitize community radio across Africa

Durban-based tech company, immedia has invested R10-million to help African media entrepreneurs to build sustainable community radio by using Fabrik, a set of cloud-enabled digital tools that empower media entities to live-stream shows, grow and engage with audiences around the world, and benefit financially by monetising their audiences.

The 25-year-old company, which has the backing of Microsoft and the Industrial Development Corporation, has been developing their Fabrik technology since 2017. Fabrik allows media entrepreneurs to upend the traditional notion of “we broadcast and you receive”, by creating a feedback loop that directly helps the stations and listeners that use it to leapfrog old technology, to become citizen journalists, and find their strategic space in a digitally transformed world. It is already being used by 15 commercial clients, including radio stations Gagasi FM, Smile 90.4FM and YFM.

As part of its Digital Leap programme, immedia will be giving its platform to qualifying media entrepreneurs across Africa for free for a year. This includes consultation, training and support to help monetize the technology, cumulatively valued at R10 million.

Phil Molefe, a veteran of broadcast radio in South Africa, Fabrik’s Head of Business Development & Strategy, says the programme was key to the company’s vision to spearhead media transformation. He says the uptake of Fabrik by energetic entrepreneurs at community radio stations showed how empowering the suite of digital tools is. “It enables them to deepen their relationship with their audience and monetise it sustainably because the quality of their engagement with listeners is meaningful.”

Molefe points out that while community media is often under-resourced and struggles to retain skills, the company’s case studies have shown that it is more than possible for them to thrive – and that the Digital Leap programme is the kind of opportunity they need, and can succeed on. Fabrik helps media entrepreneurs by solving key challenges for them, including:

Providing them with a mobile application that allows community and campus radio stations to live-stream shows, as well host podcasts, allowing them to reach audiences well beyond the geographic constraints of their traditional radio broadcast signal.

By shifting to a cloud-based tool, radio stations get access to archival and backup that is compliant with BCCSA and ICASA regulations. This helps them to significantly cut down on time and resources required to manually back up radio content to on-site servers or even tape.

Messaging functionality, including push notifications, so that stations can better engage with their communities, publish written or multimedia content, and even promote active conversation between listeners. Push notifications help drive engagement by bringing attention to active competitions, surveys and polls, recently published content, and more.

By encouraging listeners to register as a member and provide some of their personal information, such as geographics and demographics, stations are able to build audience profiles for their listeners, and gain a better understanding of their needs and preferences.

These detailed analytics provided by Fabrik gives stations the data they need to convince advertisers and marketers of the value of promoting their products and services through the station’s app, helping bring in much needed revenue.

Fabrik has a range of users, and about 60% of their listeners have an opt-in relationship with their broadcasters. By building and growing owned communities, stations then stand to benefit financially by serving highly relevant ads to their digital listeners. In addition, where sales conversions on social media are around 2%, Fabrik users enjoy 8%.

According to Tamie Mbombo, head of Marketing and PR at Izwi loMzansi, one of the largest community radio stations in South Africa, says that the platform has revolutionised the station’s engagement with its listeners, and has led the digital charge with featured podcasts and integrated advertising campaigns on the Izwi mobile app. “Community media’s aim is to provide trusted information and expression, and Fabrik has helped do that,” he says.

The Fabrik team made some interesting observations based on the experiences of early adopters of the technology, including around community radio, where many advertisers and business decision makers are often dismissive of the audience. “For example, one of our clients is a station with an audience in the LSM 4-6 range. That audience is typically regarded as ‘too poor’ or too marginalised to go digital and yet our clients are proving that they are taking to it like ducks to water,” Molefe says.

He says that the take up by media entrepreneurs, either regarded as ‘on the fringes’ or as outliers, is the best showcase for Fabrik. “They are doing what they do because nobody told them they couldn’t – and it is proving to be a great leveller. We’ve seen how powerful this platform is in the community media space, which is why we are looking at boosting the rate of transformation.”

www.immedia.co.za

www.fabrik.cloud

Orange Business Services to build cloud-based ICT Infrastructure for Egypt’s newest smart city

Orange Business Services, a network-native digital services company, has announced that it will design and build a new data center to provide cloud services for Egypt’s ‘New Administrative Capital’.

The project will be implemented in collaboration with Orange Egypt, who will supply the required infrastructure and services, following their appointment as the project’s prime contractor by Administrative Capital for Urban Development (ACUD) – owner and developer of the New Administrative Capital.

The ACUD project has been designed as a smart sustainable city located 45 kilometers east of Cairo on a greenfield site, covering a total area of 700 square kilometers (270 square miles) mid-way to the seaport city of Suez. According to the plans, it will become the new administrative and financial capital of Egypt, housing the main government departments and ministries, as well as foreign embassies, with a population of around eight million people.

ACUD has defined a master plan for the smart sustainable city based on five main pillars: safety, connectivity, integration, digitalization, and replicability. The ICT strategy is an essential component in the fulfillment of ACUD’s vision, and the new fully secured data center will be a cornerstone of the new city.

The services offered by the data center are planned to start on schedule, in the first half of 2021, despite the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic. Once implemented, Orange Egypt will also manage and operate the new data center to host and run smart services for the private sector, as well as citizens of the new city, for five years. The smart city services to be supported include traffic management, management of smart utilities, such as electricity, water and gas supply, video surveillance and smart building services. Also included are innovative solutions, such as cloud-on-demand for companies and triple-play services for residents.

Orange has substantial expertise as a master systems integrator and provides this with the convenience of a single team and a ‘one-stop shop approach’. Orange Business Services will leverage its 20 years of experience in delivering critical cloud services across the globe. It will also apply its global and regional expertise in the design, build and construction of smart city networks, developed through its smart city center of excellence in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

“Orange Business Services is especially pleased to be selected as the trusted digital partner to this visionary and transformational project. Cairo is not only one of the oldest and greatest cities of antiquity, but it is also the largest city in North Africa. We have built extensive experience in the development of major smart city projects across the Middle East and especially in the GCC, through our smart city center of excellence at our regional headquarters in Dubai. Orange has operated in Egypt for decades and our knowledge and understanding of the environment will allow us to fully adapt the design of the infrastructure to the needs of the new city,” said Sahem Azzam, Vice President Middle East, Africa and Turkey for Orange Business Services.

“In addition to investing in smart city projects, which Orange is distinguished with its expertise in the fields of digital solutions and smart cities provided by Orange Business Services, Orange also has provided many services to the smart city sector through various partnerships — the most prominent of which is the New Administrative Capital, where the new data center is now being built. It is expected to be one of the largest centers in the Arab world and Africa, with investments of more than $135 million, and aims to enhance data and host all smart city platforms of the Administrative Capital in a secure and integrated way,” said Hisham Marhan, Orange Egypt Chief Enterprise Line of Business Officer.

“What gave Orange the edge is the expertise, as well as the local and international teams it possess that qualify it to provide these services with high efficiency, as well as to manage and operate these projects in accordance with international standards,” added Mahran.

www.orange-business.com

[Interview] Dennis De Weerd, CEO, Incentro Africa

Dennis De Weerd is the CEO at Incentro Africa, an IT service provider delivering custom build cloud-based software solutions for the European and African market.

Kindly introduce Incentro

Incentro is an IT services provider with offices in the Netherlands, Spain and Kenya. Incentro Africa delivers high-quality custom build cloud-based software solutions for the European and African market. With Dutch development standards and close collaboration with the Fair Trade Software Foundation, we deliver software solutions that both impact our customers and staff. We are founded on the ambitions to make CSR more core of what we do and therefore we always look to apply our unique skills to build software solutions that contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals. 

As the only Google Premier Partner in the region we support organizations across the African continent to work effectively from wherever they are. Especially relevant these days. We do this by deploying Cloud-based solutions like Google Workspace, Chromebooks and Cloud infrastructure. From migration from local data centers to Cloud to the development of cloud-native applications, Google Cloud is our tool of choice and we are incredibly proud to call ourselves the only Work transformation enterprise specialist on the continent.

The demand for cloud services is growing rapidly in Africa. How would you describe this growth?

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

Let me give you some examples to demonstrate what I’m talking about:  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. Let me give you another one. Consider your startup, you want to offer a new service in a traditional industry. Let’s say you are a fintech, offering quick and reliable credit scores for smallholder farmers.

Are you going to invest and buy a server, even when you don’t have customers yet and you are stressed for funding? Are you going to create extensive scoring algorithms or prefer to train an AI model? Right, you’d choose to go for a cloud-based solution that offers you a pay per use model, is available right away, limitlessly scalable and offers all the great technology with the click of a button. But it’s not only for start-ups. Let say you are a large enterprise running SAP on your on premise infrastructure. You need to procure the hardware and software, maintain the services and facility and know-how to support your staff and keep the environments secure. Let’s say you are a large retailer, selling through stores and online. You’d need to provision your hardware for the projected performance you need for multiple years and take peak loads into account. For instance for black Friday or back to school campaigns. But most of the time the hardware is just sitting there ideally, no one is buying during the night time hours. Now put this in the cloud, you just pay for what you use, optimize to make sure you don’t use any resources at night and scale to manage that peak load on black Friday. 

These are just a few examples of the power of the cloud. So the trend we’ve seen in the US and Europe can be seen in Africa as well. It’s a leapfrog technology that allows organisations to deliver high performance as little costs and overhead. It keeps organisations lean and those companies that understand this, and of course it is mostly digital natives, are able to disrupt traditional markets and industries by delighting customers with new services. Completely changing the game and leaving big, slow enterprises behind.

African cloud computing market is generating a lot of interest and deals. Players like Incentro are positioning themselves for the boom in data services on the continent. What does this mean for companies like yours?

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. 

But it is not only about being able to do the work, it’s also important to educate the market. To date, most companies have no cloud strategy and there’s a lot of misinformation and misinterpretation of local regulations and a general lack of knowledge of cloud. So we invest heavily in the growth of not only our technical team but also a commercial team that is able to educate the market in the value proposition of cloud services.

Though we started early we see things are moving now. When we started our cloud proposition over 2 years ago, there was little demand, but the pandemic has accelerated this in many cases, though we expect the big uptake to take place from late 2021 and 2022. It is only when these digital strategies start to include cloud strategy and procurement teams understand how to procure for cloud that this will happen. We have seen this explosive, accelerating uptake in cloud services in the European market where the cloud market is projected to triple from >$25B in 2018 to <$75B in 2026.

Why is there a need for African businesses to migrate to the cloud?

It depends on the organisation. As mentioned in my previous examples there are different motivations for the different companies, but overall we see most of our customers make the move because it is more secure, scalable and more affordable. Large enterprises unburden their IT department from maintaining infrastructure and enable them to contribute to business goals. For startups, it’s a cheap and convenient way to get started and use amazing technology that is only available on the Cloud.

What are some of your success stories as Incentro?

Last year, we received a call from the Central Bank of West African States, responsible for the economy of 8 countries in West Africa. Their traditional infrastructure didn’t allow them to work from home and with a pending lockdown, they needed a solution, quick. We’ve been able to migrate and onboard them in less than a week’s time. This story even made it to Forbes Africa magazine and we are incredibly proud to have been the ones that made this happen. 

Another story we are very proud of is the one of Text Book Centre. They had been conflicted between choosing from renewing their on-premise hardware or choosing to go to cloud to run their company critically software. When the pandemic hit, the choice became obvious. Getting hardware in, sending people to maintain your data center, deliver high performance for a distributed workforce, being scalable (up and down) in uncertain times. All no brainers to choose for cloud over on-premise. Of course it is scary to take that leap and transition your core systems to Cloud.

“This was the most seamless digital transition I have experienced.”- Armand Houhau, MD Text Book Centre told us.

What makes your services stand out?

In the market, we sadly see a lot of resellers. Just pushing licences, without understanding the product or service they are offering. Incentro has 25+ years of experience as IT consultants and it’s in our nature. We focus on high-quality services, delivered by trained and certified professionals. From sales, through technical consultants to our 24/7 support team. We understand that Workspace and Cloud services are just tools that help your business to succeed. But only when applied well. Therefore we invest a lot in understanding our clients and coming up with tailor-made workshops, training and change management programs, etc. Adoption is key for us. We use our extensive experience to deliver this unique service to our customers, which are currently in 26 countries in Africa. By being the only Google Premier Partner in East Africa and the only Work transformation enterprise specialists on the continent we are awarded by Google for the impact we make on our clients. 

When you receive such amazing feedback after migration, you can only be very proud of your team that made this possible.

Who are some of your cloud partners and which customers you work with?

We work exclusively with Google Cloud. Their global infrastructure, completely designed and owned by Google has no equal. Did you know that ⅓ of all internet traffic flows through the Google network? Where other cloud providers are a patchwork of different data centres and ISP’s, each Google data centre is designed and built by Google to deliver great performance. Together with very competitive prices, unique services and product offerings, we decided that Google Cloud is our tool of choice and invest heavily in understanding every detail and ability of it. Google is one of the major 3 global Cloud providers. Though it might be the best-kept secret in the African market, for now. 

Any latest news from your company?

In December our technical team in Kenya worked amazingly hard to build a platform for Dutch people to celebrate New Year’s Eve from home. With 250+ artists joining in by offering live streams we have been able to reach +650k people that joined in on new year’s eve to celebrate New Year together. Built in about 3.5 weeks by a small team, of course using Google Cloud. Intense, but fun and very rewarding to work on.

www.incentro.com/en-ke/

Incentro has these vacancies:

[Vacancy] Incentro is looking for a Workspace Support Agent in Nairobi

[Vacancy] Incentro is looking for a Mid-level Google Cloud specialist in Nairobi

[Poste vacant] Incentro recherche un agent de support pour l’espace de travail à Nairobi

[Column] Diego Gutierrez: Digital tech trends in Africa for 2021

Digital technology is a critical part of the continent’s response to the ongoing upheaval caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Adapting to these continuing challenges will shape the continent’s digital trends further in the months ahead. Here are some of the developments we can expect in 2021:

More demand for mobile money

Africa is regarded as a pioneer in the global mobile money boom, with over 1 billion registered mobile money accounts on the continent. M-Pesa is Africa’s biggest payments platform: at the time of Vodacom Group’s interim financial results in November, the M-Pesa ecosystem was processing around US$20.5 billion a month in transactions across our International markets, including Safaricom.

The pandemic has amplified the need for contactless transactions to reduce the risk of infection and security threats associated with bank card payments. Add to this mobile money’s contribution towards narrowing the financial inclusion gap and providing access to utility services and humanitarian aid, and we can expect to see even further growth in mobile money users on the continent in 2021.

Increase in IT infrastructure

As 2020 has shown, reliable IT infrastructure is a powerful tool in mitigating the impact of a global crisis. Of the 25 least-connected countries in the world, 21 are in Africa, and only a third of the African population has access to broadband connectivity. Addressing this need for improved infrastructure and services across the continent is a key agenda item for Vodacom.

Through technological innovation, such as 5G expansion and leveraging existing network infrastructure reach, including fibre, microwave, LTE and SD-WAN, Vodacom is delivering more connectivity to more users, especially in rural areas. Increasing digital access opens opportunities for employment, innovation and inclusion; bridging the digital divide and changing lives for the better.

Cybercrime on the rise

At the end of 2020, it was reported that a business in Africa experiences a cyberattack on average 1230 times per week, compared to the global average of 459 weekly business attacks. From Covid-related scams to vulnerabilities in remote working conditions, the rise in cyberattacks is linked to criminals taking advantage of the current circumstances. As the “new normal” rolls into another year, so too will cybercriminals look for new ways to exploit individuals and businesses.

Embracing cloud technology

Moving to the cloud is not new, but the pandemic has pushed organisations to rethink and fast-track their deployment strategies to this technology, which allows for improved and secure communication, remote operations, and scalability. In a recent survey of technology decision-makers in Sub-Saharan Africa, 56% estimate that more than a quarter of their applications will have moved to the cloud by the end of 2021.

While the global pandemic that engulfs us has had devastating consequences on health and life, the resulting acceleration of digital transformation on our continent has been significant. In the long run, these developments will go a long way to better equip us all for the uncertainty of tomorrow.

Diego Gutierrez is the Chief Officer of International Markets at Vodacom Group

TetherView Launches “Digital Bunker” Enterprise Cloud

TetherView, a leading provider of custom-tailored enterprise solutions designed to bring businesses safely and securely into the cloud has launched Digital Bunker™, a comprehensive one-way-in and one-way-out private cloud solution for enterprise customers. The Digital Bunker enables businesses to provide their employees with a trusted, secure virtual environment, custom-tailored to their specific industry and compliance requirements. Through Digital Bunker, businesses can see, touch, audit, and prevent all access to their sensitive data, while providing their employees with a scalable high-performance workspace. Pricing is a flat fee per user and is dynamically scalable based on performance requirements.  

Digital Bunker enables businesses to dramatically simplify their IT infrastructure by integrating all of the IT services that businesses need within one comprehensive platform, including security, compliance, disaster recovery, mobility, and more.

“The major trend in enterprise cloud solutions today has been to bring all the data to all employees everywhere,” said Michael Abboud, CEO and founder of TetherView. “For companies dealing with sensitive information or compliance requirements,  this “open data” approach does not work. Through Digital Bunker, businesses can protect their remote employees and their valuable data within a one-way-in and one-way-out private cloud. Digital bunker lets you optimize your infrastructure so your IT team can focus on innovation.” 

Tetherview’s Digital Bunker solution is built to the NIST/ISO Framework following the compliance requirements of NYSDFS 500 and CMMC  and/or other agreed-upon compliance standards. Tetherview’s data centers, equipment, and solutions are all SSAE 16 and SOC 2 certified. This allows Digital Bunker to be used within security-sensitive industries, such as financial service providers, aerospace and defense industries, as well as midsize and Fortune 500 companies.   

The Digital Bunker is the only Private Cloud solution that is Soc 2 Type 2 certified out of the box, offering companies a complete and easy path to compliance.

TetherView Digital Bunker can be delivered as a service or a solution. Whether an enterprise needs a turnkey cloud solution or wants to enable AWS or Azure, TetherView has an approach that meets its needs.

www.tetherview.com