Microsoft drives digital transformation through cloud adoption in Kenya

The event also aimed to shape the perception and position Microsoft as a thought leader for global best practices in data migration.

In an effort to create awareness around its Azure offering as well as drive cloud migration, Microsoft last week hosted an event in Nairobi, Kenya. The event also aimed to shape the perception and position Microsoft as a thought leader for global best practices in data migration.

It’s said that in the past five years, cloud adoption in Kenya has soared. Research conducted by World Wide Worx suggests that in the past five years, the use of cloud services in regions such as South Africa and Kenya has gone from fewer than 50% of medium sized and large companies, to more than 95%.

With digital transformation becoming the driving force behind organisational strategies across the continent – Kenya is no different and there is still work to be done. With this wave has come the need for organisations to consider cloud computing as a way of storing and managing servers, databases, networking analytics and software through the internet (cloud). With this, experiencing faster innovation, flexible resources, and economies of scale.

“We created our Azure cloud offering recognising that organisations that migrate to the cloud would require an ever-expanding set of cloud services to help them meet business challenges. The solution also allows organisations the freedom to build, manage, and deploy applications on a massive, global network using preferred tools and frameworks”, said Sebuh Haileleul Country Manager at Microsoft.

For business transformation in the digital age – this allows organisations in Kenya to pay only for cloud services used, helping to lower operating costs, run infrastructure more efficiently, and streamlining scaling as business needs change.

The event also raised awareness the hybrid cloud – speaking at the event, Wale Olokodana Intelligent Cloud (Azure) Business Group Lead at Microsoft said the following, “For organisations in the country not wanting to move to the public cloud completely, leveraging a hybrid model may be better suited. This combines private and public cloud capabilities, allowing data and applications to be shared between them.”

Furthermore, when computing and processing demand fluctuates, hybrid cloud computing provides businesses with the ability to seamlessly scale their on-premises infrastructure up to the public cloud to handle any overflow—without giving third-party data centres access to the entirety of their data. Organisations are afforded the flexibility and computing power of the public cloud for basic and non-sensitive computing tasks, while keeping business-critical applications and data on-premises, safely behind a company firewall.

“And this is where a monumental factor comes into play – with Microsoft recently launching its first cloud data centres in South Africa. Going forward the latter will allow for faster, more agile business operations and provide access to next-generation technologies for the rest of the continent, including Kenya”, continues Haileleul.

“Our aim with this event, is that CTO’s, CIO’s and the like will recognise not only the value that the public cloud has to potentially revolutionise their businesses – but also that it doesn’t stop there. Products like Azure stack, as well as the just released Azure Stack HCI (Hyper Converged Infrastructure) solutions, allow customers adopt models like the hybrid cloud to accelerate their digital transformation journeys – For businesses in Nigeria this will only help to keep them abreast in a dynamic and fasted paced environment”, concluded Olokodana.

www.microsoft.com

[Kenya] icolo.io starts construction of its Nairobi Data Center

icolo.io, a leading provider of carrier-neutral colocation services in Africa has commenced the construction of its new data centre in Kenya. The new Data Center called NBO1 is located in Karen Nairobi and will be second data centre from the company following the construction of the first data center in Mombasa.

Construction of the data centre started in November 2018 and is expected to be complete in August 2019. This new site will host more than 250 racks and accommodate IT power of 825kW.

“With the announcement of the build of our second data centre in Kenya, we reaffirm our resolution of making Kenya a major convergence point in data communication in Africa. With this sizeable investment, NBO1 will be Nairobi’s first true carrier and vendor-neutral data centre with scale,” said Ranjith Cherickel, Founder and CEO of icolo.io.

NBO1 will have over 624m2 of rack space with a 99.999% guaranteed power uptime. The architectural design of the data centre sits on a 4,400m2 area ensuring redundant power complete with back-up generators which are DCC certified, N+2 high precision cooling and pre-cabled interconnects. The entire infrastructure will be concurrently maintainable.

This data centre will serve major businesses in the East African region ranging from internet service providers, financial services institutions, enterprise customers, medical facilities among others.

“NBO1 will be at the centre of Silicon Savannah and it’s a fantastic opportunity for our talented ICT professionals to build scalable infrastructure in and around the region. This places Kenya at the heart of Digital Africa” added Mr. Cherickel.

The building will be supported on drilled concrete piles with reinforced concrete columns, beams, and hollow-core concrete slabs, as well as raised floors in the data centre to enhance the flow of cold air in all the white space and technical rooms. The building will have two dedicated Meet-Me Rooms that will serve as two diverse entry points for all fibres coming into the building thus providing redundancy for our connectivity partners.

www.icolo.io

[Column] Corine Mbiaketcha Nana: Five essential steps to close the cloud skills gap in Kenya

The ability to find and retain cloud-savvy, IT staff continues to be considered as one of the key barriers to cloud adoption according to Oracle’s latest ‘You & IaaS’ survey.

The ability to find and retain cloud-savvy, IT staff continues to be considered as one of the key barriers to cloud adoption according to Oracle’s latest ‘You & IaaS’ survey.

As Infrastructure-as-a-Service adoption grows and the technology matures, the availability of staff with specialist skills is being surpassed by demand. The survey found that more than one-fifth (28 percent) of companies say that IT skills shortages have been one of their top issues in rolling out IaaS.

Closer to home, a research study by RANITP (Research Academic Network on IT Policy), Research ICT Africa and the University of Nairobi on the state of cloud service usage in Kenya, found that businesses highlighted DevOps, software development, system administration and networking skills as crucial for cloud delivery. In addition, they pointed out that information security, as well as contract and project management skills, are essential for migrating, maintaining and supporting cloud services.

No wonder, moving to the cloud is still deemed to be risky by some CIOs; but should it be?

The reality is that the bigger risk is not moving to the cloud, which is rapidly proving itself as easier to manage, maintain and secure than traditional IT environments. In particular, cloud services are vastly more secure than many on-premise alternatives, since leading cloud vendors such as Oracle invest in creating a highly robust security infrastructure that is continually patched and kept up-to-date. This level of investment in security can never be matched in an on-premise environment.

What I see from talking to CIOs across Africa is that the skills gap issue relates less to having cloud-specific skills; it is instead a mindset challenge.

In his Africa blog post, Frank Rizzo, partner, Technology Sector Leader for Africa at KPMG says cloud computing is not driven solely by technical experts any longer, but by business leaders looking to leverage it from an overall business perspective.

So what are the gaps and how can companies overcome them?

1. Hiring for the cloud era

Creating a team for the future will inevitably affect the hiring process. Rather than look for new employees from traditional, external sources – most likely direct competitors – CIOs should aim to recruit from cloud-native companies. These staff are used to handling data in the cloud and with the cloud skills required.

Once onboard, there are two main options for how to make the most of this talent. Use the new hires to fill the gaps and educate the rest of the team, or build a completely new team that’s cloud-first by design. This approach can motivate the business and act as a catalyst for innovation.

2. Internal talent

Don’t forget you already might have internal talent that has the potential to shine in a cloud world.  Holding or attending ‘hackathons’ or offering existing staff the opportunity to volunteer to take part in new cloud projects could give you the opportunity to spot skills you didn’t know the team possessed.

This is an approach that the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) is taking. To support its strategic drive to enhance service delivery to taxpayers, KRA deployed a new Customer Relationship Management Solution (CRMS) that provides it with a single platform to better understand customer needs and respond to their demands more quickly and efficiently.

KRA has been undertaking extensive staff training programmes to guarantee superior customer interaction management with taxpayers. Its CRM training is divided into four areas based on the role various groups play, including end-user, back office staff, and administrator training as well as the training of trainers. Change management initiatives and staff sensitization workshops are also carried out to create system awareness.

Another thing to consider is that some of the team’s existing expertise can be transferred to the cloud.  In some cases, new cloud services, in fact, mirror their on-premises counterparts, making the transfer of skills more achievable.

Re-training existing members of staff is also critical. There are a range of options to help organizations upskill their IT teams through training; from government programmes through to vendor academies, such as the Oracle Academy. The latter are useful for providing both the technical skill set required and the necessary security and compliance training.

3. Think big

Infrastructure cloud services enable businesses to operate elastically, at a vastly increased scale. This gives the company an amazing opportunity to change the dynamics of how they operate. Instead of just migrating individual databases, think bigger, consolidating the various data sets you have around the business into a unified dataset. There are multiple benefits of this. At a base level, you can have more applications per server and manage them all as one, and with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning becoming more widespread you can be prepared to take maximum use of these exciting emerging technologies by creating a single data asset.

4. Data orchestration

Businesses are increasingly seeking to become data-driven. IT teams need to stop looking at data and processes as systems issues and instead regard them as profit opportunities. This means thinking about how business information can be turned into actionable insights that lead to customer engagement and profitable growth.

5. Advanced data management

Data is the new oil for businesses: a huge source of potential wealth if mined, refined and distributed well. A core skill for enterprise IT teams is, therefore, how to store, manage and transport data. This means extending skills beyond technology to include data governance and compliance capabilities.

Any enterprise that’s serious about leveraging the cloud to innovate and grow needs to have these skills entrenched in their IT teams. It is therefore vital that organizations go about building cloud-ready teams in the right way.

If enterprise IT teams can close the cloud skills gap, the rewards will be well worth the effort. The renewed, high-performing team will quickly demonstrate value to the C-suite and other key corporate stakeholders while enabling a core competitive differentiator for the business.


Corine Mbiaketcha Nana, Managing Director Kenya Hub covering East, Central and West Africa at Oracle.