[Kenya] CloudHop inks deal with Nasdaq Governance Solutions to provide clients with solution that enhances corporate governance

Cloud solutions provider in Kenya, CloudHop, has partnered with Nasdaq Governance Solutions, a business of Nasdaq Inc. to provide its clients in Eastern Africa with access to Nasdaq Boardvantage®, a board portal and collaboration software solution.

Nasdaq Boardvantage allows boards and leadership teams to work together more efficiently, productively, and strategically.

For the corporate secretary, general counsel and meeting administrators, the platform offers an exceptionally flexible, secure and user-friendly interface to help increase productivity during and in between meetings.

For board directors and senior executives, the solution helps manage critical tasks inside and outside the boardroom with biometric ID sign-on, intuitive notification, and collaboration tools.

Nasdaq built the platform with industry-standard encryption and multi-factor authentication to protect a user’s most sensitive information.

“We pride ourselves in helping our customers put smart to work with the best of breed applications. We are therefore delighted to be partnering with Nasdaq on this groundbreaking solution that will without doubt transform how corporates manage their corporate governance function,” said Mr Keval Shah, Co-CEO, Cloudhop.

“We are encouraged by the demand across East Africa for our board portal and collaboration technology and are pleased to partner with CloudHop to engage with governance professionals in the region who are seeking new ways to enhance their corporate governance practices,” said Mr Mike Bartels, President, Nasdaq Governance Solutions.

Nasdaq Boardvantage is recognized as a 2019 American Business Awards Bronze Stevie Winner for Sales & Customer Service; 2018 American Business Awards Gold Stevie Award Winner for Best New Product of the Year, Bronze Stevie Award Winner for Software Customer Service Department of the Year, and Bronze Stevie Award Winner for Front-Line Customer Service Team of the Year; 2018 RiskTech 100 Category Winner for Operational Risk & GRC; and 2018 6th Annual Best in Biz Awards International Winner.

www.cloudhop.it

www.nasdaq.com

[Kenya] KETRACTO digitizes procurement processes with SAP Ariba Cloud

In a bid to improve its operations and in compliance with presidential directive and government requirements, Kenya Electricity Transmission Company Limited, KETRACO, has digitized its procurement processes via an e-procurement platform powered by SAP Ariba Cloud. 

This second phase of an end-to-end automation of tendering, supplier management and contracts process will see tenders and quotations submitted and processed online for efficiency, accountability and transparency. This process is 100% Paperless.

Open and secret tenders, Request for Proposals (RFP) and Request for Quotations (RFQ) will be advertised through the government portals, KETRACO websites and in newspapers. All interested Bidders/ Suppliers will be required to submit their documentation online. The tenders will then be received, evaluated and awarded online.

In the first phase of the implementation that went live in April this year, the company automated ‘procure to pay’ operations by on boarding suppliers to the SAP Ariba network to start transacting electronically. Purchase Requests, Local Purchase Orders, invoices and payment of goods/ services were processed online in the ‘procure to pay’ operation.

Speaking during the go live event, KETRACO’s Managing Director FCPA Fernandes Barasa noted that over 260 suppliers have registered on the Ariba network and continue to transact with KETRACO in a paperless environment for Purchase order and invoice submission and processing and are ready to move the entire tendering process.

‘’Supplier registration and qualification has now been made available online. The youth and the special groups will be submitting their registration applications online and will be on boarded immediately. ‘’ He noted.

This automation has been made possible by SAP Ariba, a leading global provider of collaborative business commerce solutions which allows suppliers to easily extend their back-end systems and processes to benefit from electronic transactions.

Pedro Guerreiro, Managing Director for SAP Central Africa adds, “Two years ago Kenya’s leading electricity transmission company implemented SAP’s Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) System and shortly after, won Gold at the SAP Quality Awards. Today, we are thrilled to yet again be a part of Ketraco’s continued digital transformation journey with the adoption of our Ariba e-procurement software solutions.  By streamlining business operations and connecting to Ariba’s +4.2 million companies, Ketraco has established a solid foundation for tomorrow’s Intelligent Enterprise, pointing to a bright and innovative future for the organisation, its staff and customers.”

www.ketraco.co.ke

www.sap.com

[Column] David Bunei: Next-generation cloud eliminates pain points for Kenyan business

In addition to experiencing our new brand look in person, business leaders who attended the recent Oracle Modern Cloud Day in Nairobi had the opportunity to experience the full potential unlocked by cloud-embedded technology.

On a greater societal level, cloud technologies are at the heart of concepts like smart or green cities where available resources are optimized and systems integrated for the benefit of all citizens. Businesses too can achieve unprecedented all-round efficiency enabled by cloud services. The recent Cloud Day event in Kenya was an opportunity for us to showcase Oracle’s latest innovation across cloud applications and cloud infrastructure.

With a 30-year presence in, and commitment to, Africa, Oracle is bringing these, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) enriched innovations to Kenya as part of their global rollout. Companies that have already invested in previous generations of the technology will automatically receive the upgrades through patches. For all Kenyan organisations, though – whether already Oracle customers or not – Oracle’s Generation 2 Cloud infrastructure and the new features that use it as their foundation, will help prepare an agile, secure and cost effective infrastructure that will allow the business to consistently innovate and grow in the digital economy.

Cloud can help reduce costs

One of the key challenges facing Kenyan businesses is the cost of doing business. Although cloud adoption is considered an IT strategy to reduce expenses, it has overarching repercussions for any business, especially in the digital age. A shift to cloud liberates companies from tech refresh cycles and CAPEX investment to support their on-premise systems. Whether transitioning critical or non-essential applications to the cloud, Oracle customers pay only for resources that are consumed.

More importantly, cloud-based systems are especially beneficial for companies operating in, or expanding beyond, Kenyan borders. In the case of Oracle, customers enjoy consistent pricing in all regions, so cross-border expansion does not lead to any cost increases. This way, customers can access world-class cloud services and their own fully integrated enterprise management systems no matter where their market aspirations take them. The expansion of the Oracle Universal Cloud Credits system announced at OpenWorld 2019, also enables businesses to further optimise their operational expenditure.

Organisations are often hesitant to shift to cloud given their use of business systems and technologies from various providers. Apart from the complication of wholesale data transfer, there is the cost associated with such an undertaking. Strategic partnerships are becoming more common as cloud enters its next stage, helping to streamline the process. Having already announced a cloud interoperability partnership with Microsoft in June, three months later, Oracle OpenWorld revealed a partnership with VMware, where customers can now more easily move and run VMware environments on Oracle Cloud.

Creating data-driven customer centricity

As elsewhere, data security remains a key concern for Kenyan businesses, along with the use of data to enhance the customer experience. Embedded in next-generation cloud services, automation, AI and ML can be leveraged to mine insights that will improve time to market and provide greater predictability in delivering the right customer services at the right time. Already, Oracle has partnered with the Kenya Revenue Authority to provide a more responsive and relevant service to their customers, translating into better brand reputation.

One final point to make is that cloud migration is an ongoing journey, for our customers and Oracle itself. One of the major announcements at OpenWorld was Oracle’s plans to build a cloud region in South Africa. New Oracle Cloud regions are continually being launched – one every 23 days over the next 15 months or so – and our relationship with Microsoft opens the door to interconnecting with Azure data centres in more areas too.

Change takes time. While Oracle and other global players increase their investment in Africa, business decision-makers – who have expressed their enthusiasm about cloud’s potential – should seize every refresh opportunity at their organisation to explore what cloud solutions can do to introduce immediate business value.

David Bunei is the Managing Director for Oracle Kenya.

[Kenya] Oracle showcases its Cloud and Artificial Intelligence technology solutions

Oracle recently showcased its latest Cloud led digital solutions to top business and government leaders at the International Modern Business event in Nairobi. This according to the company is in line with its sustained commitment to help Kenya achieve its strategic socio-economic objectives as identified by the country’s Vision 2030 framework,

“Digital transformation is a key priority for Kenya’s public and private sector entities as organisations look to deliver transparent citizen services; drive business growth with high ROI; introduce new products and deliver an exceptional customer experience in a highly mobile and digital economy of the future”, said David Bunei, Managing Director of Oracle Kenya.

“At Oracle, we have delivered an incredible amount of innovation to our customers in Kenya including the Oracle Autonomous Database, AI embedded Business Applications and the Generation 2 cloud infrastructure.”

“The International Modern Business event is an opportunity for us to highlight the true impact of these technologies and showcase how Kenyan organisations can unlock unprecedented growth with cloud led digital transformation”, added David.

Oracle has recently announced plans to launch 20 new Oracle Cloud regions by the end of 2020, for a total of 36 Oracle Cloud Infrastructure regions. South Africa will host one of these cloud regions to support seamless cloud transition for customers across the African continent. Oracle has also recently unveiled the world’s first Autonomous Operating System; AI Voice for the enterprise and the world’s fastest database machine.

www.oracle.com

[Column] Toney Wabela: Technological disruption looming for Africa’s data network market

Sometimes a disruptive technology can loiter for a while, before it changes everything. Yet change it will bring, because nothing and no one can defy gravity. So it is, I believe, with the new generation of open compute infrastructure.

For, as the world creates data, there’s an equal demand for resources to store, process and make sense from this data to drive business value. 

All the thousands of ledgers that used to be created manually now generate legions of data threads, expanded by ever more automation and cross-relationships, driving further data and data processes. Our data revolution has created new data flows, again, from our communication, seeing global hyperscale companies create hundreds of thousands of square metres of data centres to hold and process their millions of users’ data.

These data centres need power to run the servers, cooling systems and security systems, maintain an optimal ambient temperature, and keep the air dust-free. And this power has been creating a galloping electricity bill in recent years, to such an extent that hyperscalers started investing in R&D to design more energy efficient computing infrastructure. 

Two years of design engineering gave birth to the Open Compute Project (OCP), a radical and bold move by leading hyperscalers to create non-proprietary data centre hardware that achieved a significant milestone in energy efficiency and reduced total cost of ownership. This move has been well received by other players in the technology innovation space, with leading chip and switch makers joining OCP. More than 1,000 globally leading hardware engineers have since contributed to and continue to make improvements to these free, state-of-the-art blueprints for data centre infrastructure. 

And thus, in one step, hardware has been added to the open source revolution that brought the world software from Joomla to Sugar and Linux to Steam as ever-expanding communities of technical contributors.

The chase could not be more timely, with OCP evolving just as cloud computing has been moving into a new gear. The Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) market has been rising for the last 20 years, beginning with customer relationship management services, and steadily claiming ever more software space, from mailing lists to payroll, book-keeping to word processing.

With each new SaaS offering, the cloud grows bigger, and the need for data centres greater. 

Yet as a next wave of disruptive technology, OCP has barely appeared on the radar.

Using OCP equipment, versus the kit available from the world’s top brand names, has thus far demonstrated a significant reduction in the total cost of ownership and maintenance of data centre infrastructure. We have been able to register savings of over 40 per cent in implementation as well as licensing costs. 

Now that’s a big enough difference to change equations everywhere, but for companies like ours, working to effect a technology revolution in Africa, that’s akin to a beacon in the dark. The costs of equipping data centres have almost been halved, putting these centres within the reach of many small and medium sized businesses, as well as offering our nations’ largest companies and government, an opportunity to significantly reduce their operating expenditures attributed to data centre maintenance.

At my own company, we have seized this opportunity, becoming the first Cloud services provider in Africa to introduce OCP hardware at the East Africa Data Centre, one of the largest data centres in the continent which has been set up in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi. 

This OCP infrastructure is currently the backbone of our innovative SaaS solutions which includes iLearn, a learning management system for state primary schools that has been designed, developed and tested in collaboration with professional Kenyan teachers, with the digital learning content vetted and approved by the government. This interactive learner centred platform can be accessed by teachers and pupils from any part of the country through a smartphone, tablet or laptop, thereby proliferating digital literacy in the country. 

We are also using this OCP infrastructure to power our private, public and hybrid cloud services. 

Thus, by using data centre infrastructure that is cost efficient all the time as our foundation, we have created an entire pyramid of more accessible and locally relevant services and software for our African clients.

In short, from the Open Compute Project we have initiated a programme to open computing services to businesses throughout Africa, encompassing organisations that could never have stepped so quickly or so lightly into the cloud were it’s still on offer only at more than double the price.

We believe that the capacity for OCP to play its part in bridging the digital divide has been remarkably overlooked until now.

But we also see this technology as a disruptor that the hardware industry and the global cloud services providers have barely understood, as yet. For, with hundreds of our finest hardware engineers engaged in constantly upgrading OCP designs, and the resulting infrastructure out-competing proprietary infrastructure at a fraction of the price, it can only be so long before data centres make OCP the global standard, forcing proprietary brands to reassess their unique selling points.

For Africa, the move to OCP and the opening of the cloud to hundreds of thousands of companies and millions of citizens, cannot come soon enough. That’s why we have made it begin. OCP is no doubt the future in data centre infrastructure, just as SaaS became the present in software.

Toney Webala is the Co-Founder and CTO at Atlancis Technologies 

[Column] Flora Kangethe: Customer service to backend – How cloud-based AI enables modernisation of business

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is proving to be a key technology in delivering improved customer experience and exceeding customer expectations. It is also a highly effective way for countries to achieve their economic growth and sustainability objectives.

In Kenya, emerging digital technologies are considered a significant part of national development plans, and have enjoyed significant support from the country’s leaders. This has led to the introduction of a host of development initiatives that leverage the potential of the latest cloud technologies that are powered by machine learning.

Possibly the most notable early adopter of AI in Kenya is the Kenyan government itself, which is also one of the top performers in Africa as per the Government Artificial Intelligence Readiness Index 2019. According to the report, it’s estimated that AI will add US$15 trillion to the global economy by 2030. However, the report findings also reveal that governments in the Global North are still better positioned to reap the benefits of AI than their southern counterparts. This poses a risk to countries in the Global South as they may not be fully prepared to succeed in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

As noted in the Readiness Index 2019 report, “AI has the power to transform the way governments around the world deliver public services. In turn, this could greatly improve citizens’ experiences of government. Governments are already implementing AI in their operations and service delivery, to improve efficiency, save time and money, and deliver better quality public services.”

As one example of their efforts to improve the local socio-economic direction of the country, the Kenyan government has committed to using AI to help assess citizens’ eligibility for affordable housing. The AI technology will assist in allocating 500,000 new affordable homes by checking applicants’ credit histories and smartphone wallet transaction history sourced through the Credit Reference Bureau (CRB).

The government is also making use of AI technology to verify and authenticate voters during election campaigns. Biometric technology was used by the Kenya Integrated Elections Management System (KIEMS) to ensure that votes were cast only after fingerprint and photo authentication.

Oracle is the first organisation to take AI even further by embedding this technology in its cloud applications. By leveraging AI organisations can unlock significant value not only for their customers but for themselves in the form of greater operational efficiencies and cost savings.

AI in customer service

A best practise AI use case is in customer service. When used in this area of the business, chatbots can reduce the cost to serve customers, while improving the response time, consistency and quality of customer interactions. Similar benefits arise when the chatbot is customer-facing or when used by agents themselves to augment their knowledge.

Oracle recently announced the extended and evolved availability of its AI-trained Oracle Digital Assistant. Now users can use voice commands to communicate with their Oracle enterprise applications to drive desired actions and outcomes. The technology enriches the user experience with conversational AI, simplifying interactions and improving productivity.

This feature has already been of exceptional importance to the international organisation, Industries for the Blind and Visually Impaired (IBVI), who employ blind people for a wide range of jobs – from assembly to various customer service and office roles. Switching to Oracle Cloud Applications, the organisation aims to improve product quality and accuracy around factors such as shipment status and inventory.

Since implementing the new Oracle Cloud Applications with Oracle Digital Assistant, IBVI has been able to create new independent roles (no sighted assistance required, where one sighted person for every four blind employees was required previously) in customer service, human resources, and financial management.

It’s not just about chatbots: Automation across both sales and marketing processes can improve quote-to-cash turnaround times and reduce administrative workloads while allowing for a level of personalised messaging to customers that were previously unachievable. As these examples attest, AI-embedded cloud systems have the power to deliver value whether as the mechanism for customer interaction (as in the case of chatbots) or in support of those responsible for it.

AI in HR

For Kenya – the highest-ranked African nation on the Government Artificial Intelligence Readiness Index 2019 – to stay ahead of the AI curb, the focus needs to be shifted to the adoption of cloud-based business systems that embed the technology in the application itself, unlocking automation capabilities by default.

HR is one such example, where the use of AI to understand and automate processes, can lead to significant efficiency gains. It can be used to identify staff who may be thinking about leaving or to recommend learning paths, thereby reducing employee attrition.

In the world of procurement, the use of AI within Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems can identify deviations from compliance requirements in contracting, enforce approval processes, and automate requisition through invoice matching and payment. The automation of these processes allows organisations to reliably produce outcomes while enabling their employees to focus on tasks that deliver more strategic value to the organisation.

Much has been made of the abilities of AI to bring significant value to the customer – and rightly so. AI can produce repeatable, scalable, and reliable outcomes for customers, improving their overall experience. However, AI can also deliver enormous efficiency through various lines of business and across roles, creating a more streamlined organisation that is more able to focus on creating client value.

Flora Kangetheis the Applications Sales Director, Oracle Kenya

Kenyan cloud services company Atlancis Technologies becomes the first to adopt OCP in Africa

 Atlancis Technologies, headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya, is the first ICT services provider in Africa to embrace OCP.

The company, which specializes in delivering ecosystem-transforming ICT solutions, has adopted open technology for its industry Cloud platforms, branded Servannah.

The founders of AtlancisToney Webala and Daniel Njuguna had been closely following the deployment of OCP and its benefits to global hyper-scale companies like Facebook, Google and Microsoft to deliver value, optimised performance, total and rapid scalability and ultimately competitive advantage. In developing scalable delivery of industry solutions they were excited about the opportunity to leverage these proven, efficient technologies in Kenya and across Africa.

In partnership with Vesper Technologies, an OCP Community member based in the UK, Atlancis were able to deploy their first fully self-service cloud instance. Vesper delivered a full-stack solution configured with Software Defined Storage (from Ceph) and Software Defined Networking (from Cumulus Networks), providing an environment built for automation and scalability. The initial roll-out included 27 nodes, 1080 Core’s, 5TB RAM, 2.4 Petabytes storage and high performance 100GB Top-of-Rack switching with redundant 25G links to each node.

Philip Kaye from Vesper Technologies commented, “Vesper are delighted to work with Atlancis, who are an extremely technical and forward-thinking company. We look forward to continuing to work with the team as their cloud platform expands across Kenya and Africa.”

“The Open Compute Project is the basis of our go-to-market strategies for transforming target industry ecosystems globally” said Dan Njuguna, Co-Founder and CEO of Atlancis; he continued, “our hardware design, inspired by OCP, gives incredible flexibility and scalability to allow us to respond to demand in the enormous markets we operate in, and to move quickly into new markets, be they industries or geographical.”

Atlancis sees several additional benefits to deploying OCP, among them, building and maintaining open technology in-country, using crowd-sourced local resources. To this end, Atlancis has been working with local Universities across Kenya to help develop talent that can compete in supporting the ecosystem needs of tomorrow with a special Outlining further OCP deployments in Africa, Njuguna said, “Our OCP-based Servannah Cloud solutions have been deployed in the Public Sector (“Huduma”) and Education (“iLearn”), as we develop further industries including Healthcare, Agriculture and Transport.”

www.atlancis.com

[Column] Nixon Kanali: Cloud, an essential component for every African business

Cloud computing has been in existence for almost two decades now helping businesses stay secure from cyber threats. The technology points to business efficiencies, cost benefits and holds a very competitive advantage.

Currently, a large portion of the African business community continues to operate in the cloud. In fact, according to a study by International Data Group, 69% of businesses around the globe are already using cloud technology in one capacity or another, and 18% say they plan to implement cloud-computing solutions at some point.

A previous report by Dell also revealed that companies that invest in big data, cloud, mobility and even security enjoy up to 53% revenue growth than their competitors.

The African cloud has arrived

Why therefore should businesses in Africa take cloud computing seriously? Well, Africa’s cloud and data centre ecosystem will soon become a land of serious opportunity. Bottom line, the African cloud has arrived and more African businesses need to take advantage of this.  The cloud services sector might still be in its early stages of development, but the impact is already far-reaching.

According to The “The Rise of the African Cloud: Azure, AWS, Vmware and the Battle to Transform African Enterprise Markets” report African banks for example are making investments in machine learning and artificial intelligence tools to improve the customer experience and credit risk; new “digital banks” are emerging, that are, at least in part, cloud-based. Governments are also using cloud and virtualized infrastructure to enhance public service delivery. Large retail firms are using compute capabilities and AWS databases to transform how they reach a predominantly mobile and digital customer base – and scores of African cloud-native startups are leveraging the cloud to disrupt entire industry sectors.

‘’The African cloud may be small, but it is already here indeed, and it is growing fast.’’ the report notes.

CEOs and CIOs in Africa should now have cloud at the centre of their digital transformation strategies if they want to stay in business. The ability to harvest, store and sort big data is a critical element of business competitiveness and according to a recent column by Avinash Ramtohul, the Managing Director, Mauritius and Cloud Architect Leader, Sub-Saharan Africa at Oracle published on African Business Communities, the higher the use of autonomous technologies, the more the competitive edge!

A recent report by Xalam Analytics predicted that top line annual cloud services revenue in Africa is set to double between now and 2023, and public cloud services revenue to triple in that time.

“Few other segments in the African ICT space are as likely to generate an incremental $2bn in top-line revenue over the next five years, and at least as much in adjacent enabling ecosystem revenue,” the report noted. “But the broader upside is unmistakable, and the battle for the African cloud is only beginning.”

Cloud computing leads to faster development and quicker learning within organisations, therefore accelerates innovation as it drastically removes costly overheads when it comes to maintenance and updates. It should, therefore, become an essential component of every African business transformation.

Nixon Kanali is the Tech Editor for the Africa Business Communities

[Column] Andrew Sordam: The huge opportunity for consolidation and cloud in Africa

It is only 100 days since I took up the post of VP for Africa at Oracle, but already it is clear why the continent is such a priority for the company, and why it is considered a land of opportunity in the tech space.

Consolidation of modernisation

Africa is seeing huge population growth, and a marked increase in consumer spending, resulting in a big demand for 24/7 service. The much-discussed leapfrogging effect, which we have seen in areas like power and telecommunications, has helped the continent develop at speed, but it has also placed huge demands on modern businesses.

Companies of various shapes and sizes are taking advantage of the newest tech to improve the way they do business, but a major, more recent trend is that many are now looking at the consolidation of this modernisation. These are companies that are growing very quickly, and they want seamless and complete integration between the front and back office.

This is happening across the board – major corporates, SMEs, financial services companies, those in retail, in financial services, for example, East and West African banks are beginning to merge, with such mergers requiring new strategies.

Adoption of technology is not just for the commercial sector, however. In the public sector, greater efficiencies are also being sought. Each government department used to have its own IT department, but that is now changing, and we are seeing convergence into one service centre. This is a big trend across the continent. The public sector, like the private sector, is looking for integrated technologies to help it become more effective and keep up with demand.

Vertical strategies

Herein lies the opportunity for a company like Oracle. We help private, public sector organisations develop and improve processes and more, and more we are looking at complete solutions.

The opportunity is massive in Africa in this regard. We see the impact of our organisation in every line of business. We are able to give customers choice to either go in with the entire stack – from apps, to infrastructure, to vertical solutions or multiple modular journeys to the cloud. In each instance, this is based on business needs and can be either private or public cloud. And that impact is set to be further scaled with our new approach on the continent.

Our CEO Mark Hurd spoke recently about our plans for leveraging our leading Software-as-a-service (SaaS) business to seize business-to-business (B2B) market share. Africa is no different to anywhere else in this regard, though we see a particular opportunity in increasing our cloud business here, and will focus on this more and more.

Oracle’s model encourages the adoption of cloud particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, giving businesses the benefit of flexibility. Because we invest so much in innovation, it is easy for customers to manage, and we embed more optimisation than anyone else. Apps and databases are embedded with artificial intelligence (AI), making our services easy to adopt – a major benefit. Our solutions can basically run your business, saving you money on human capital.

Yet where we truly stand out at Oracle is our cloud autonomous play. We have an advantage here, with the autonomous category being our own invention, and believe customers in Africa will adopt this technology and improve their businesses as a result.

The Oracle Autonomous Database, for example, completely reshapes our customer’s approach to IT, helping them free their budgets and resources to focus on business growth while reducing risk.

Using machine learning and AI-driven technology, our cloud services can be upgraded, optimised, secured, patched and tuned automatically, without human intervention. Easy management encourages adoption, which speeds business growth, vital to economic development in emerging economies such as those in Africa.

A full ecosystem

For all the exciting trends and opportunities I have spotted in my first 100 days, however, there are also a myriad of challenges.

At the heart of it all are skills. The tech may be there, but you still need the knowledge from within each industry and within each country to maintain a certain level of service. That is why Oracle does not just sell products but also invests in capacity. The growth of Africa as a business hub – and therefore the success of our business on the continent – depends on building a self-sustaining ecosystem.

That is why we focus on developing digital skills across the continent. Our open platform for developers works with local coding communities to build developer skills, while we also partner with development agencies, NGOs, NPOs, and educational institutions, among others, to address ICT skills shortages.

That is also why we look at accelerating startups and entrepreneurs, and building skill sets across many countries. We recently announced, for example, the Ghana-Oracle Digital Enterprise Programme, a collaborative effort that will support 500 technology-enabled startups and entrepreneurs across Ghana through access to Oracle Cloud technology, mentoring and workshops, and business-enablement and support resources. SMEs are the backbone of emerging market economies, and it is vital we support them.

We want to run initiatives like this in other countries too. Tech is key, but we feel knowledge needs to be nurtured as well.

A bright future

Oracle has been present in Africa for nearly three decades, but never before have we been as excited for the future here as we are now. This is demonstrated by the launch of our first Oracle Innovation Hub on the continent, located in South Africa, to help drive the implementation of emerging technologies across the country’s businesses, public sector and academia.

Andrew Sordam is the Vice President for sub-Saharan Africa at Oracle

[Column] Avinash Ramtohul: 5 key considerations for your journey to cloud

CEOs and CIOs on the continent have cloud at the centre of their digital transformation strategies, knowing fully well that without automation they will either be out of business or be steering an organisation towards undesired directions.

According to the IDC’s Kenya Enterprise ICT Market 2019 Outlook, 1,9 million USD is predicted to be spent on ICT in Kenya this year alone. The Kenyan government is prioritising it’s Big Four Agenda; which spans investment and development in manufacturing, food security, healthcare and housing. In order to achieve these objectives, the Government will focus on emerging technologies such as blockchain, IoT, cloud and data analytics.

CEOs and CIOs on the continent have cloud at the centre of their digital transformation strategies, knowing fully well that without automation they will either be out of business or be steering an organisation towards undesired directions. The ability to harvest, store and sort big data is a critical element of business competitiveness. The higher the use of autonomous technologies, the more the competitive edge!

In the process of devising a cloud adoption strategy, most companies realise that they can’t transition all workloads or business processes at once; considerations span Service Level Agreements, Data sensitivity and security, business continuity, cost and legislations/regulations. The challenge, then, is to carve out a transition plan that supports co-existence of on-premise and cloud based applications – hence ensuring minimal disruption when migrating pieces of software to the cloud in a chronological fashion.

There are 5 key considerations to take into account when carving out this transition plan; we explore these below.

Mapping your cloud-ready journey

Understanding how to achieve results that impact, not only the organisation, but the greater economy is crucial. Building a pathway to becoming cloud-ready should be an integrated approach, one driven by cloud strategy, policy and an innovative culture. Planning and preparation with the right cloud strategy are imperative to achieve the desired success

The path forward will vary, depending on where the organisation is starting. Each organisation will take a unique journey, following its own timeline. That said, most organisations could follow one or more of five use cases that describe the requirements they face on their journey:

  1. Streamline and modernise

If your enterprise does not have immediate plans to move to the cloud in a big way but does want to streamline its infrastructure. This kind of enterprise should work towards reducing technological complexity by replacing older servers, storage and backup systems with modern systems that are architecturally compatible with systems powering private and public cloud services.

  1. Accelerate time to value

With the aim of maintaining and growing its competitive edge, most innovative organisations need to do more with less, and faster – a necessary ingredient to live up to the rising expectations of both, the shareholders and customers, alike. In such a situation, an appliance strategy can provide great benefit. Today’s modern appliances come preconfigured to serve different purposes, such as to support a database, a private cloud environment, UNIX, or big-data applications. Because appliances are easy to deploy and operate, requiring less time and fewer specialised skills, IT departments are able to implement and manage them quickly, with a reduced learning curve, avoiding the hassles of testing and integration.

  1. Optimise and extend private cloud

Many organisations first implement private cloud to achieve lower costs and greater agility for generic, non-critical workloads. Most self-assembled generic private clouds take months to build out, resulting in decreased agility and expensive personnel to build, tune and manage. They typically require expensive licenses and support contract to run generic workloads. The recommended way forward therefore, is to adopt platforms that are optimised for cost and/or performance. Generic workloads can run on the Oracle Private Cloud Appliance, optimised to deliver low-cost computing for Linux, Solaris, and Windows applications while more-demanding applications operate better on purpose-built engineered systems. 

This provides an easy path to public or hybrid cloud, with unified management across environments.

  1. Optimise and secure critical applications

Business-critical applications require peak performance and security. However, in many organisations, the infrastructure supporting these applications has been built over time and is lagging in modernisation, and is now inconsistent with currently available mix of platforms. The result is an overly complex environment that does not always deliver the required performance or security.

Enterprises, here, would be better off identifying applications that manage data of low sensitivity to move them to the cloud. Back-ups, learning and test & dev environments would easily fit into Oracle’s IaaS offerings with a reduction in cost (eradicating cost of hardware, cooling, data centre space, labour). For the residual applications, high-end SPARC-based servers will optimise performance while improving efficiency with the highest security, whether implemented on-premises or on the cloud. Moving to a single platform will also bring cost savings and unified and simplified infrastructure management.

  1. Consolidate and protect data with advanced storage solutions

Every company is facing data storage and protection challenges. With the ever-increasing explosion of data volumes, simply adding to an existing storage infrastructure is no longer affordable nor effective. The better approach is to implement modern storage solutions that are built to eliminate data loss and cut recovery times. Voluminous data can be off-loaded to the cloud which offers ample security and ease of access management. Same data can be accessed from any authentic IP source, rendering the data loading and access process more streamlined and less costly.  

Take control of your future

For each of the considerations, Oracle delivers cloud-ready systems that have precise equivalents in Oracle’s own public cloud. In this way, the public cloud appears as a compatible extension of what already runs in your data centre, making it easier to move when you are ready. Even if you have no immediate plans to move to the cloud, it is a nice option to have. In the meantime, you are able to bring many benefits of the public cloud into your on-premises infrastructure and accelerate the process of innovation.

Avinash Ramtohul is the Managing Director, Mauritius and Cloud Architect Leader, Sub-Saharan Africa at Oracle.