[South Africa] Standard Bank Group selects AWS as its preferred cloud provider

Amazon Web Services, Inc, an Amazon.com company (NASDAQ: AMZN), announced that Standard Bank Group has selected AWS as its preferred cloud provider with the intention of migrating its production workloads, including its customer facing platforms and strategic core banking applications to the cloud.

Standard Bank Group will leverage AWS services, including data analytics and machine learning, to automate financial operations and enhance customer facing web and mobile applications. The migration to AWS will take place across all business units, subject to approvals from local regulators, including Personal Banking, Wealth, Corporate Investment Banking, and Insurance, driving a more personalized banking and investment experience for customers.

Standard Bank Group says it chose AWS because of its broad and deep portfolio of cloud services, overall commitment to security excellence, and strong financial services experience. The South African Reserve Bank also confirmed Standard Bank Group can make the move to AWS while still meeting all current compliance requirements. Standard Bank Group will take advantage of advanced analytics and machine learning services, including Amazon SageMaker, to advance fraud detection and launch new business initiatives, such as machine learning-based advisor capabilities that will help customers make more informed financial decisions. As part of the move, an AWS Cloud Center of Excellence will be established within the bank, featuring a dedicated team focused on facilitating the migration to the cloud and building AWS training and certification programs to up-skill all employees. AWS and Standard Bank Group will also collaborate on building an education and digital skills program, to be launched across Southern Africa, to train the next generation of African cloud experts.

“Our vision is to be Africa’s leading financial services organization and to achieve this we have chosen to work with the world’s leading cloud,” said Sim Tshabalala, Group CEO of Standard Bank. “For Standard Bank Group to remain a leader in African financial services, we recognize we need to adopt a cloud-first approach to our business. AWS Cloud technology will create a springboard for Standard Bank Group, helping us to rapidly roll out our digitization and data strategy to better cater to customers whose needs are constantly evolving. The combination of AWS’s rapid agility and high levels of security, combined with Standard Bank’s customer obsession and desire to constantly raise the bar, will allow us to build Africa’s financial services organization of the future and to be positioned as more than a bank.”

“The cloud is transforming the financial services industry as organizations look for new ways to enhance customer experiences, and power their entire enterprise operations more efficiently and effectively on the world’s leading cloud,” said Andy Jassy, CEO of AWS. “Standard Bank Group has been a trusted financial institution for more than 150 years. We look forward to working closely with them as they become Africa’s first bank in the cloud, leveraging AWS to innovate new services at a faster clip, maintain operational excellence, and provide secure banking services to customers around the world.”


[Column] Paul McIntyre: Cloud evolution does not mean demise of IaaS

The evolution of cloud technology has awakened a desire by businesses to fast-track the development of platforms in order to capitalise on Customer Experience (CX).

There is widespread opportunity to up the level of traditional customer engagement and many companies are introducing cloud solutions to maximise these opportunities – however, the consumer is a lot more tech-savvy and are aware of the choice they have in technology available, says Paul McIntyre, CX Executive at Elingo, a Johannesburg-based leader in ICT and cloud solutions.

“Leading platform providers, like Genesys, are accelerating efforts to position their cloud offerings in the local market. Other solution providers and integrators have deployed cloud offerings to market, so there is now choice. What is becoming the next big differentiator is the expertise and professional services to match cloud offerings to the business requirements in both process, integration and business logic,” says McIntyre.

Elingo believes the South African cloud market is expected to grow, particularly in the deployment of platforms and solutions as businesses negotiate compliance with regulation like PoPI.

“South Africa has embraced Customer Experience as a business differentiator, this is really an exciting space for us, this implies new and interesting business strategies which in turn will drive platform metamorphosis,” adds McIntyre.

He says this is where cloud and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) come into their own… “speed of deployment, lower cost barrier to these solutions all that will be required is to select the most experience solution provider for the requirements.”

According to McIntyre there is speculation in the market as to whether or not the advent of cloud will ultimately lead to the demise of IaaS – but he believes there is no way IaaS is on its way out and there will always be a requirement.

“It will depend on the maturity of the customer, physical requirements, geographical location (Africa has its own specific challenges), and appetite to move to the cloud. A service provider who provides solutions across all options is going to be key selection criteria,” McIntyre continues.

Exactly what approach a business should take really depends on resources, core requirements, budget and practicalities.

If a company is looking to hand over complete ownership and responsibility, then cloud is very attractive says McIntyre.

“This will then also remove cost of expertise that could still be needed in the business and allow the business to refocus those resources in other areas. Depending on business requirements and practicalities, there may even be a requirement to bring all technology and services in-house, but working with a service provider that understands both technology, ability of technology to meet business requirements and costing models, will provide clarity to business as to the best solution for them,” he adds.

Irrespective of approach, the reality of operating in today’s market is that there are advantages and disadvantages to IaaS.

McIntyre explains that the disadvantages include dependency on a service provider, the speed of execution, skills and technical understanding to match business requirements to technology are all external to the business.
“At the same time the advantages are freedom from hardware upgrades, operating system upgrades, uptime, all the elements that make IaaS a very real business consideration will always be there,” he says.Elingo has the resources, expertise and experience to add value and guide the market, to leverage the cloud and IaaS approach to infrastructure management.

Paul McIntyre is the CX Executive at Elingo, a Johannesburg-based leader in ICT and cloud solutions.

South Africa Rugby Union names Microsoft its official cloud partner

Microsoft South Africa has announced that it is the official cloud partner of the South African Rugby Union (SARU). The partnership aims to transform the world of rugby by using cloud capabilities to unlock new opportunities for SARU in this ever-evolving world of digital transformation.

The digital revolution has unlocked new opportunities for clubs, leagues and federations to challenge the convention to re-think how sports is played, coached, watched, and experienced. Using the cloud Microsoft works to help sports organisations like SARU embrace digital transformation, connect with their fans worldwide, provide more personal experiences and improve and create revenue streams.

Jurie Roux, Chief Executive Officer of South African Rugby Union believes, “The partnership with Microsoft will create an opportunity for us to develop innovative solutions to do things that weren’t possible previously”.

“In today’s hyper-connected, data-driven digital economy, sport like every other industry, is experiencing a massive digital transformation. Those who are early adopters are winning and we’re proud to be the official cloud partner of a winning team.  

By working together with SA Rugby, we can deliver an enhanced viewing experience where passion and technology intersect”, says Kethan Parbhoo, Chief Operations and Marketing Officer at Microsoft South Africa.


[Column] Henning Lange: Why businesses can really count on cloud

Migration to the cloud is on the rise with more businesses adopting cloud solutions to realise the benefits. Cloud is no longer a mystical concept, but a concrete pipeline to a more flexible, cost-effective work environment.

This is according to IT solution and service specialists at Johannesburg-based leading ICT company Elingo.

The progressive cloud-focused business believes that the majority of businesses are at least curious about cloud development, solutions and implementation, knowing that there are definite advantages   – although there is still some level of apprehension.

Kobus Potgieter, Chief Financial Officer – Elingo, says, “The migration from desktop solutions to cloud solutions in the accounting world has been phenomenal. There has been substantial investment in cloud solutions, which drives further migration.

Cloud is the answer to the ‘do anything from anywhere’ technology question, says Jannie Pretorius, COO at Elingo.

“Real cloud allows services, accessibility and ‘yet-to-be-discovered ways of communication’ accessible from any location at the most relevant time. It truly is a technology and concept ahead of its time, with the mobile device revolution being just one of cloud’s success stories,” says Pretorius.

But he acknowledges that some businesses do not yet see the relevance of cloud in their space.

“… and that is because the word cloud is simply a reference to a magnitude of possibilities, rather than something specific to that business. A deeper dive is required to see where the value proposition is: reduced Infrastructure costs and no more ‘upgrades’ (because the cloud version of that product is always on its latest release). Moreover, no VPN required while in many cases being completely operating system independent.”

Executives from Elingo list advantages associated with migration to the cloud, incorporating services and solutions, as faster turnaround through streamlined processes and delivery mechanisms, flexibility, scalability, being able to shift from a Capex to Opex finance model, and improved control over resources – especially data.

Businesses can benefit from better holistic security: the security services found in public clouds are more advanced than what many enterprises can afford on premises, and it’s much easier to implement says Henning Lange, CIO at Elingo.

“The cloud is now politically correct: Just a few years ago, the mere mention of putting workloads in a public cloud was practically like punching a co-worker in the face. Those days are over. Now you’re considered out of touch if you don’t at least consider cloud computing. The number of cloud services and solutions continue to rise and outperform the functionality and availability of existing on premises solutions,” he says.

Limitless scalability

Pretorius adds: “True cloud offers seemingly limitless scalability as it relies on independent micro services rather than fully featured applications. These services scale up and down based on demand without any impact to end users, and without any intervention from application providers.”

But there are challenges and this is contributing towards the apprehension.

Making a full transition to the cloud can sometimes be challenging, so here is where hybrid cloud solutions will play an important role adds Lange.

“With a hybrid cloud, companies can transition to the cloud at their own pace, with less risk and at a lower cost,” he continues.

Pretorius makes the point that many businesses confuse cloud with hosted. “They could not be more different, the same concerns that exist with an on-premise solution exist for a hosted solution – if done via a provider, it is just hidden but the end product will still be limited in the same ways. Examples could be restrictive scalability, or less functionality than the traditional on premise version of that solution. It will never be able to realise the potential a true cloud solution offers.”

Whatever the challenge, experts at Elingo say the right service provider partner makes all the difference.

“The fast paced adaptation of cloud requires a partner who can adapt to-and integrate with existing systems and legacy technology without any negative disruptions to the business. That means staying forces on achieving business goals,” says Sabashni Moodley, Chief Support Officer at Elingo.

Henning Lange is the CIO at Elingo.

[South Africa] Microsoft opens first data centres in Africa with general availability of Microsoft Azure

Microsoft has today announced the opening of its first datacentres in Africa, with the general availability of Azure from the new cloud regions in Cape Town and Johannesburg, South Africa. This makes Microsoft the first global provider to deliver cloud services from datacentres on the continent, which will help companies securely and reliably move their businesses to the cloud while meeting compliance needs.

“Microsoft Azure is now available from our new cloud regions in Cape Town and Johannesburg. The combination of Microsoft’s global cloud infrastructure with the new regions in Africa will create greater economic opportunity for organisations in Africa, accelerate new global investment, and improve access to cloud and internet services,” said Yousef Khalidi, corporate vice president, Azure Networking, Microsoft.

Ibrahim Youssry, general manager, North, West, East, Central Africa, Levant & Pakistan, Microsoft said, “Today is a milestone moment in bringing the global cloud closer to home for African citizens and businesses. Enterprises across Africa can now take full advantage of the many benefits of Microsoft Azure, using cloud services to maintain security and meet compliance standards.”

According to the Cloud Africa 2018, the use of cloud among medium to large organizations in Africa has more than doubled between 2013 and 2018. Due to the benefits of cloud in offering efficiency and scalability, more than 90 percent of surveyed companies in South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria have plans to increase their spending on cloud computing in the next year.

However, a secure offering remains important in maintaining this momentum, with many African CEOs being concerned about cyber threats.

“Microsoft has deep expertise in protecting data and empowering customers around the globe to meet extensive security and privacy requirements, including offering the broadest set of compliance certifications and attestations in the industry,” adds Khalidi. “We look forward to supporting more African enterprises in their cloud journeys and offering a trusted path to digital transformation.”

 With a network of over 10,000 local partners – and a nearly 30-year history of operating on the continent – the new datacentres form part of Microsoft’s ongoing investment to enable digital transformation across Africa.

 In 2013, Microsoft launched its continent-wide 4Afrika Initiative where it has been working with governments, partners, start-ups and youth to develop more affordable access to the internet, 21st century skills, and locally relevant technology. Most recently, this included a partnership with FirstBank Nigeria to expand cloud services and digital educational platforms to SME customers.

In Kenya, Microsoft is expanding FarmBeats, an end-to-end approach to help farmers benefit from technology. FarmBeats strives to enable data-driven farming, bringing together traditional knowledge, intuition and data to help increase farm productivity and yields.

On the skills development front, Microsoft has established a network of more than 800 Microsoft Imagine Academies across Africa, offering students of various age groups direct training in the technology field. In partnership with the African Development Bank, Microsoft is also rolling out `Coding for Employment` to create more than 25 million jobs and reach 50 million youth and women across Africa.

“We’re working with partners to accelerate cloud readiness and adoption in Africa, ensuring enterprises can deliver services to market faster, businesses can make more data-driven decisions, and governments can better connect with citizens,” adds Youssry. “As we connect more businesses to Azure, we’re seeing heightened innovation in the cloud and start-ups expanding their services to new markets. The combination of Microsoft’s global cloud infrastructure with the new regions in Africa will now connect businesses with even more opportunity and customers across the globe.”

Azure is the first of Microsoft’s intelligent cloud services to be delivered from the new datacentres in South Africa. Office 365, Microsoft’s cloud-based productivity solution, is anticipated to be available by the third quarter of calendar year 2019, while Dynamics 365, the next generation of intelligent business applications, is anticipated in the fourth quarter.


Telecom Egypt and Nokia to build cloud infrastructure for IoT rollout in Egypt

Nokia and Telecom Egypt have announced plans to build the first cloud infrastructure in Egypt exclusively for Internet of Things (IoT) services. Telecom Egypt will use Nokia’s Worldwide IoT Network Grid (WING) as a Service as the platform to launch IoT services for the enterprise segment later this year.

Nokia WING enables operators like Telecom Egypt to offer IoT services to enterprises on a global scale. Telecom Egypt will be able to tap into the growing IoT market fast and cost-effectively due to the Nokia WING one-stop model, which includes a worldwide IoT Infrastructure-as-a-Service and pay-as-you-grow business model. WING enables Telecom Egypt to provide global IoT service at almost local prices as opposed to more expensive roaming prices.

As part of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU),Nokia and Telecom Egypt will also explore joint marketing initiatives and will work to accelerate the development of an IoT partner ecosystem in the country. A number of IoT use cases drive automation, which will help enterprises cut their operational expenses, enhance productivity and bring new services to market faster.

“We are excited to collaborate with Nokia for this IoT initiative. We have worked with Nokia in the past and we are confident that Nokia WING will enable us to bring world-class IoT use cases to our enterprise customers in Egypt and later in the region.” Adel Hamed, Managing Director & CEO of Telecom Egypt, said. 

 “We are pleased to announce this collaboration with Telecom Egypt to enable next generation of IoT services for Egypt and the African market. Our cloud-native IoT proposition and pay-as-you-grow business model makes it possible for Telecom Egypt to move fast to address the vast IoT market opportunity in Egypt.” Ankur Bhan, Head of WING business at Nokia, added.



Microsoft collaborates with Telecom Egypt to extend its global cloud network to Egypt

Microsoft Corp. and Telecom Egypt have announced their collaboration to extend Microsoft’s cloud network to Egypt.

Telecom Egypt will provide low-latency connectivity into and across Egypt to help enhance performance and increase reliability for customers of Microsoft services. The partnership will increase Microsoft’s reach to the large Egyptian market in addition to improving connectivity across North Africa and the Middle East.

Microsoft’s global network is one of the largest and most innovative in the world. It connects Microsoft’s cloud infrastructure of more than 100 datacenters, 135 edge node locations and more than 100,000 miles of fiber and undersea cable systems to deliver Microsoft services to customers.

The new point of presence in Egypt will benefit from a direct connection to Microsoft’s global infrastructure to enhance the delivery of numerous services for customers. Microsoft’s network investment will increase capacity and use the latest in network optimization for the delivery of Microsoft services in Egypt.

“Through our collaboration with Telecom Egypt, we are extending Microsoft’s global network in Egypt and improving connectivity across North Africa and the Middle East,” said Yousef Khalidi, corporate vice president, Azure Networking, Microsoft. “We are continuously investing to increase the size, speed, reliability and intelligence of Microsoft’s global network to help enable the digital transformation of organizations and enterprises locally and abroad.”

Commenting on the announcement, Dr. Amr Talaat, minister of Communications and Information Technology of Egypt, said, “Our commitment to the industry comes in line with the government’s Sustainable Development Strategy: Egypt Vision 2030. Egypt is spearheading a promising digital transformation strategy that will transform the society and the economy. We value collaboration that aims to empower local enterprises and accelerate transformation for business advancement.” The Minister also, on the occasion of this new relationship, emphasized that: “Egypt is capitalizing on its unique geographic location, which makes it a hub for digital businesses and datacenter activity due to the strong presence of submarine cables passing through both the Red and Mediterranean seas.”

Telecom Egypt’s global network was built over the years through investments in consortiums and private international submarine cable systems. Its reach and position as an international hub with tens of terabits per second lit capacity makes it the partner of choice for content providers.

Egypt’s distinctive geographic location on the Red and Mediterranean seas has enabled Telecom Egypt to connect more than 11 cable systems from the east and 13 from the west linked with the Red-Med Corridor consisting of 7 diversified highly reliable routes across Egypt.

“We are pleased to partner with Microsoft as it represents one of the first steps toward our strategic digital transformation plan,” said Adel Hamed, chief executive officer, Telecom Egypt. “Telecom Egypt’s geographical position and its digital infrastructure will enable major cloud providers such as Microsoft to enhance their reach to consumers and enterprises in Egypt as well as reach other markets.”

Khaled Abdel Kader, general manager, Microsoft Egypt said: “Microsoft is committed to providing world-class cloud services to enable and accelerate the digital transformation of organizations, businesses and people in Egypt. Our collaboration with Telecom Egypt and Microsoft’s investment in the country will further empower Egypt to achieve more through Microsoft services.”

The new enhanced network presence in Egypt will connect via Microsoft’s global network to transatlantic and trans-Arabian paths, which will improve connectivity across North Africa and the Middle East, including enhancing connectivity to the new Microsoft cloud regions in development in South Africa and the United Arab Emirates.



MTN, Eseye and AnyNet Federation partner to deliver globally connected IoT cloud solution

Eseye, a global provider of IoT services has announced a partnership with MTN, the leading Africa Mobile Network Operator (MNO) to deliver globally connected IoT cloud solution.

MTN have joined forces with Eseye and the AnyNet Federation, a new association of MNOs established specifically to meet the complex management and enhanced resilience requirements of the rapidly expanding global M2M IoT customer base.

The AnyNet Federation will initially focus on delivering significant global growth of cellular services onto Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud. It aims to make the complex global landscape for IoT easier for AWS customers, by delivering a single cellular M2M solution that can be deployed seamlessly across major world markets.

‘This is a ground-breaking global collaboration. The AnyNet Secure is already the most feature rich and integrated connectivity solution for AWS, and the AnyNet Federation as a key way of delivering simplified connectivity on a global scale, whilst allowing customers buy and manage their connectivity from within AWS”  Nick Earle Eseye Chairman and CEO said:

“MTN is delighted to bring their networks across 12 markets to the support the objectives of the AnyNet Federation. We believe that through collaboration we can speed up the deployment of our customers’ global IoT and enhance their global business opportunities’’ MTN Group Enterprise Executive Oliver Fortuin added.

Using Eseye’s next generation, fully eUICC compliant AnyNet Secure for AWS SIM card, AnyNet Federation member customers will experience “out of the box” connectivity that integrates onto AWS IoT Core and is globally scalable. Cellular traffic destined for AWS is passed between different

AnyNet Federation partners based on the geographic location of IoT devices that are automatically provisioned and certified over-the-air. Regardless of which AnyNet Federation partner is delivering the data, the customer is billed through their account by AWS, and the MNO is paid for the services it delivers.

The launch of the AnyNet Federation and its initial AWS market focus comes as Gartner forecast the Worldwide Public Cloud Services Market will grow by 17.3% in 2019 to total $206.2B, up from $175.8B in 2018; and Statista state that 80% of enterprises are both running apps on or experimenting with AWS as their preferred cloud platform.




[Column] Mariam Abdullahi: Building the Intelligent Telco Enterprise -growth opportunities for African telecoms operators

While the telco industry may have seen its traditional revenue streams decline further in 2018, thanks in part to the popularity of over-the-top (OTT) services such as WhatsApp that offer low-cost alternatives to messaging and voice calling, the industry is still set for growth. According to the Africa Digital Outlook 2019 report by Ovum, mobile revenue in Africa is set to grow from $54.9-billion in 2017to $68-billion in 2022. While voice revenues are predictably declining as cheaper OTT services continue to gain popularity among cost-conscious consumers, mobile broadband and digital services revenue are set to more than double over the same period (from $13.1-billion in 2017 to $32.1-billion in 2022).

The pressures on traditional revenue streams has initiated an industry-wide goldrush for new innovations that can leverage the extensive infrastructure and data sets most telcos have access to. Modern consumers are demanding greater convenience and improved experiences from the brands and companies they support at a time when those same consumers are permitting brands to become more intimate with them through increasingly sophisticated omni-channel marketing initiatives. 

However, without a well thought-out and future-focused digital strategy in place, Telcos will struggle to adapt to their changing consumer and business landscape. In fact, I’d be so bold as to say that, unless Telcos can move fast to drive operational efficiencies, modernise and update their business models, we may very well see some of those slower on the uptake exit the market soon.

For African Telcos that have the correct digital tools and strategies in place, there are immense growth opportunities. In 2019 we will see more focus in four key areas, namely Digital Experience Management, Artificial Intelligence, Data and Analytics, and Cloud.

Digital Experience Management 

Customer experience will play a leading role in shaping the 21st century Experience Economy. Walker research even found that customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiators by 2020. 

To meet the modern customer’s expectations regarding customer experience, Telcos should integrate the back-office with the front office and deploy the technology tools that will enable them to marry experiential data with operational data. In 2019, Telcos need to ensure they have a holistic view of their customers across the marketing, sales and service departments, and develop a deeper understanding of individual and B2B customers, their needs and expectations. 

Measuring end-to-end experiential data is an emerging discipline, with new innovative tools giving organisations unprecedented access to measurable experiential data. Qualtrics, which was acquired by SAP in 2018, is an experience management platform that enables the integration of operational and experiential data to give organisations real-time feedback from customers on key activities. Callidus Cloud’s DataHug, a forecasting and pipeline management solution that provides data insights into the likelihood of success in a sales cycle, also tracks the engagement levels of prospects to give sales teams actionable intelligence about how and where they can optimise sales activities.

Artificial Intelligence

The world witnessed an acceleration in artificial intelligence capabilities in 2018 as the much-hyped technology finally entered the mainstream. With AI now widely available and its maturity levels making it suitable for a range of industries, organisations are now faced with the task of determining where AI can add the most value, how to deploy and integrate it, and how to build toward a long-term horizon. To truly harness the power of AI, organisations need to set goals and objectives as well as continuously measuring effectiveness rigorously. 

In the telco industry, AI is useful in areas such as network optimisation (using AI to analyse the network status and implement predictive maintenance when needed); customer service (AI-enabled chatbots such as those on the SAP Conversational AI platform easing operational pressures by assisting customers with a range of well-defined interactions); and customer experience (an exciting and emerging application of AI, which can assist with integrating front-office and back-office records, pulling in external data sets, and developing offers – such as device or contract upgrades – tailored specifically to an individual customer’s preferences). 

AI can also point the way to new, non-traditional revenue streams. Kenya’s Safaricom has started setting itself up as a platform for a range of consumer and business services, for example by launching a new ride-hailing service called Little Cab that offers free Wi-Fi for passengers and offering M-Pesa users to access credit lines via Fuliza, an overdraft facility in partnership with banks which reported a borrowing of 6.2B Kenyan Shillings in just one month. By leveraging customer data and behaviour, the telco can introduce a broad range of non-traditional telco services that add value and convenience to the customer experience.

Big Data and Analytics

Mobile handsets are arguably the greatest sources of individual customer data available today. And Telcos are at the forefront of Big Data custodianship as subscribers use an array of data-generating apps and services all linked to their mobile phone. These present huge opportunities to Telcos who can quickly analyse vast amounts of individual customer data, build complex and multidimensional customer profiles, and develop individualised customer offers and experiences to deepen brand affinity and increase share of wallet. 

The Vodafone Group is a great example of a telco taking advantage of its Big Data opportunities following a recent partnership with SAP to co-innovate in a Big Data Margin Assurance project. By using value proposition, customer usage data and analytics, Vodafone operating companies are now able to identify margin leakages on products and services and optimise margin instead of following the older ‘Average Revenue Per User’ metric. 

However, it is worth noting the importance of trust. If Telcos are to take advantage of their Big Data opportunities, they must give customers assurance that they fully appreciate the responsibility of being custodian to customers’ most personal habits and preferences and take the necessary measures to protect and manage their data.

Cloud Computing

Cloud market giants had phenomenal 2018s, with Amazon cloud revenue up 49% in Q2 2018, slightly lagging market-leader Microsoft. This year looks no less exciting: Gartner predicts the global public cloud services market will grow by 17.3% in 2019 to reach $206.2 billion. Organisations are accessing more SaaS, PaaS, IaaS and other as-a-service offerings than ever before as they shift away from capital expenditure and reorder their IT spend as operational expenditure to enjoy cloud’s cost containment and convenience benefits. 

One of the key challenges of cloud adoption in Africa is related to the matter of data residency vs data sovereignty; in other words, who owns that data, and where is it allowed to be stored? This has made it critical that cloud services providers have in-depth in-country experience of the data sovereignty and residency laws of various African countries and regions. 

Telcos have a mandate to provide near-100% uptime, have extensive infrastructure and understanding of the various regulatory aspects that could impact cloud services. There is immense potential for Telcos to become private-managed cloud providers for data that is bound by data residency and sovereignty laws and enable Africa’s high-growth businesses to more easily scale to new markets or geographies without transgressing any local laws.

Mariam Abdullahi is the telco industry Lead at SAP Africa

[Column] Christian Mahnke: Migration is no longer about adopting a cloud-first approach

The cloud first approach made popular in 2018 is no longer hailed as the answer to cloud domination. Instead, migration in 2019 will be more carefully considered and measured.

The cloud first approach made popular in 2018 is no longer hailed as the answer to cloud domination. Instead, migration in 2019 will be more carefully considered and measured.

 A forced approach towards cloud is not ideal. While insight into cloud has improved and uptake is on the rise, lessons have already been learnt and the approach for 2019 is to only migrate what is suited to the public cloud. A hybrid approach will also continue to drive cloud adoption throughout 2019. 

The benefit of legacy application migration is to not only increase agility, but more importantly, it must provide both business and operational efficiency. If migration doesn’t make financial sense, then it shouldn’t happen. Furthermore, migration should ensure the infrastructure is reliable and has greater scalability, resulting in an improvement in overall agility as well. 

While many enterprises are realising these benefits as opposed to a cloud-first gamble, the question still remains in terms of legacy applications and what to do? Is moving them more beneficial than them staying on premise? 

While new applications, or those developed with the cloud in mind, can benefit from cloud technology and will perform better in a cloud environment, the same cannot be said for legacy applications. 

There are four main factors affecting the success of legacy application migrations:

Lift and shift approach: in some cases, legacy applications may just “lift and shift” into the cloud without much effort. Even if the legacy application performs no better in the cloud, a cloud hosted legacy application might fit well into the organisation’s cloud strategy, which wants to host all their applications – old and new – in the cloud.                                                                                               

Refactoring: this involves a more advanced process of re-architecting, and recoding, certain parts of an existing application to take advantage of cloud native functionality. In this way, organisations can take full advantage of cloud-native features to maximise operational costs in the cloud. This is probably the most time-consuming and resource intensive option but ensures the lowest monthly spend of all migration options.

Break-up and re-assemble: in some cases, the migration of monolithic legacy applications into much smaller micro services could be seen as a challenge on its own. Applications might have to be broken down into smaller, more manageable chunks and then re-assembled for cloud use, a process which is obviously fraught with all sorts of integration/migration/assembly challenges, but what other option is there when faced with migrating a large legacy application.

Leave it alone: this is not a migration strategy, but rather “best to leave it alone option”. Not all legacy applications should be migrated into the cloud or stuck into containers or micro services. We should remember that some legacy applications are more than 10 to 20 years old, they were developed in a pre-cloud era, they were developed using COBOL and FORTRAN, and they were not developed to benefit from cloud native frameworks or functionality. Many were huge applications, developed over years and enhanced many times over, some losing its sophisticated coding standards and slipping into the world of spaghetti code, deeply entwined with their databases or operating system, with many external interfaces, or licensing restrictions, that they cannot be moved anywhere, never mind into the cloud. 

Some organisations assume that moving applications into the cloud will automatically increase performance but have then been disappointed when this did not happen. Latency issues can occur when applications and data are split, or hosted in separate environments, and response times can be affected because some applications require excessively high I/Os which may not be available in the cloud. Some legacy applications simply won’t function better in the cloud. 

Migrating legacy applications into the cloud is no easy task. There are many options and partnering with the right company to ensure your approach is a success is vital.

Christian Mahncke is Business Development Manager at Routed, Cape Town, South Africa.