Vodacom Business expands Cloud Connect offering to support business needs across Africa

The expansion of Africa’s digital economy is gaining momentum, with the potential to reach US$180 billion by 2025, about 5% of the continent’s gross domestic product, according to a recent report released by the International Finance Corporation and Google. To meet the increasing demand for digital services in Africa, Vodacom Business Africa has expanded its Cloud Connect offering across the continent.

Cloud Connect provides businesses with a secure, private, high performance, high availability connection to leading public cloud service providers, including Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services.

“Africa is experiencing a boom in digitalisation. Combined with the disruptions of COVID-19, this is driving many organisations on the continent to seek out the benefits of cloud services. Our Cloud Connect services keep businesses securely connected while providing them with operational agility and access to essential data and software applications to enhance their performance now and into the future,” says Wale Odeyemi, Executive Head of Strategic Marketing at Vodacom Business Africa.

Meeting the needs of businesses today
As the pandemic has shown, businesses need to be able to adapt to market changes, and with speed, to avoid disruptions to continuity. To help with business agility, Cloud Connect clients are able to experience the same fast switch-on flexibility of public cloud with their own WAN/network. Bandwidth choice ranges from 50Mb to 1G depending on the cloud service provider, so clients can scale network capacity to maintain performance as business needs change.

The high-performance connectivity of Cloud Connect enables periodic data migration and replication for continuity, disaster recovery and retention. The low latency connectivity is also able to support key business applications, including storage, big data, development and interactive applications, fast and in a scalable manner. For example, large data sets are quickly transferable for big data computing applications, and huge media files are streamed in real-time to and from the cloud.

In addition, the consistent performance and reliability of Cloud Connect improves application response times, so businesses can use the cloud as an extension of their data centres. High availability with dual diverse connections to cloud data centres ensures redundancy and protection in the event of a network failure.

Cloud Connect is a managed service, giving businesses more time to focus on important activities, and IT resources can be utilised more effectively, in an organisation.

How does Cloud Connect work?
Vodacom Business Africa’s Cloud Connect offers a secure, private connection without the need to redesign existing large corporate networks or experience the traditional delay of dedicated connections to cloud provider data centres. Cloud Connect works seamlessly alongside the IP-VPN and other fixed connectivity products to give organisations a total ‘Ready Network’ solution.

The service directly integrates into the branch sites of a business and is not reliant on the internet. The cloud locations are integrated into the private WAN, effectively seen as another site on the IP-VPN. Different locations in the IP-VPN then share the connectivity to access resources in the cloud.

“We are experiencing an exciting transformational period in the enterprise landscape in Africa. As a leading connectivity provider on the continent, Vodacom Business Africa remains committed in supporting businesses to take advantage of our continent’s growing digital economy and recognise real return on investment on cloud technology. To this end, we continue to leverage our strategic partner networks to provide innovative products and services, affordably, seamlessly and securely to our clients,” concludes Odeyemi.

www.vodacombusiness.co.za

[Africa Cloud Review] Simon Ngunjiri: Cloud adoption is the future of African SMEs

In our previous Africa Cloud Review report, we highlighted how cloud adoption is no longer merely an option but a necessity that promises tremendous rewards across entire organizations.

Africa is currently witnessing a revolution in new cloud and data centre capacity, with a growth forecast of 80 per cent and 50 per cent. In fact, Xalam Analytics has previously noted that African data centres are the hottest growth area in the African ICT market. 

The emergence of cloud in Africa as the Cloud Over Africa report by Research ICT Africa report notes is viewed as a natural extension of the deployment of advanced IT technologies by high-end users in both the consumer and enterprise services markets.

‘’Much of the hype around cloud computing in Africa is as a result of the adoption of high-end technology and software industries such as financial services, oil and gas; and of advanced next-generation networks by the telecommunications operators.’’ the report says.

This is of course something we have mentioned in the previous cloud review article we have published here. From fintech companies that are changing the way Africans send and receive money, to Agriculture, cloud technology has the power to transform how we work in emerging markets. 

SMEs and public services stand to gain the most from the adoption of cloud services, which provides immediate access to the infrastructure and services previously only available to big enterprises able to invest heavily in IT. 

As Soromfe Uzomah, Head of Strategic Partnerships at Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative notes Cloud computing gives businesses the ability to scale, cost-effectively, to new markets. This is particularly beneficial for SMEs, who often lacked the resources or infrastructure to expand before.

Pedro Guerreiro, Managing Director, Central Africa at SAP, also notes that investments into new technologies like cloud will greatly assist SMEs in the region as they adapt to a very different operating environment.

 “As one of the most important drivers for job creation and economic growth, the SME sector is vital to the region’s economic recovery. Technology will continue to play a determining role in how well the sector recovers from this year’s events, while also digitally-tooling organisations to out-perform their competitors in this new economy and enabling them to execute the business, operate, and thrive in the market,” he says.

Currently, most of these SMEs are struggling to survive in an ongoing global recession. Cloud offers many opportunities and could help companies to improve their business and use technology more efficiently. 

The Cloud Computing: Adoption Issues for Sub-Saharan African SMEs report envisages that as cloud computing evolves, more SMEs in sub-Saharan Africa will adopt it as an IT Strategy. This could positively contribute to the successes of these SMEs and consequently, contribute to the economic growth desired by these developing countries.

Bottomline, cloud platforms are the future of African SMEs. This Digital transformation is imperative for these SMEs, as it enables them to streamline back-office operations and free up time and resources to focus on their core business.

Simon Ngunjiri Muraya is Google Cloud Architect at Incentro Africa

www.incentro.com/en-ke

ContinuitySA launches cloud-based backup and replication solution for SMEs

ContinuitySA, Africa’s provider of business resilience services and a Veeam Platinum Partner, is launching Cloud Connect, a cloud-based backup and replication service for the small and medium enterprise (SME).

 The offering is particularly relevant now as companies of all sizes move aggressively onto digital platforms to adapt to the COVID-19 crisis, according to Renier du Plessis, Cloud Manager at ContinuitySA.

“The current emergency demonstrates graphically just how important a company’s ICT systems are in giving it the flexibility to adapt to today’s volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world. The shift to digital is now irreversible,” he says. “Now, more than ever, it is vital that, in the event of a disaster, companies can recover their systems and data in the shortest space of time, or risk losing customer confidence, revenue and even brand equity.

“The cloud has emerged as a key platform not only for ICT systems but for their recovery. However, SMEs have typically lacked a genuinely easy-to-use solution that will not commit them to high management costs—until now.”

Mr Du Plessis says that ContinuitySA Cloud Connect is an unmanaged service, which keeps costs to a minimum. No upfront capital needs to be committed as payment is based on a monthly fee depending on usage. This fee includes the necessary Veeam licence, unless the client already has one, plus the storage space for the backups on ContinuitySA’s world-class cloud infrastructure.

 “The Veeam console is extraordinarily well-designed and easy-to-use, so companies have full control of the backup process, from configuration through to reporting, scaling up or down, restores, failovers and configuration changes. It’s literally a point-and-click environment. This reduces costs considerably but also means that everything happens very quickly—there’s no waiting for a third party to get things done,” he points out. “And because it’s an OPEX model, it’s easy to manage costs.”

Veeam Cloud Connect thus provides a cost-effective way to tailor an effective, safe and reliable way to mitigate risks in line with the company’s risk profile and appetite. It makes it possible for an SME to follow the 3-2-1 rule for data backups: three copies on two different media, one offsite.

All data is encrypted from the moment the backup process is initiated until it’s safely in ContinuitySA’s cloud repository. As a leading provider of business continuity services, ContinuitySA’s data centres are maintained to world-class standards, with 24/7 monitoring, backup power, UPS systems, backup diesel and water, and fully redundant communications links.

With more than three decades of experience in business continuity experience across the continent, ContinuitySA has the know-how to help clients build resilience into their operations, providing executives, directors, suppliers, clients and regulators with peace of mind. ContinuitySA will help with scoping the solution and provide training on the Veeam console as needed.

ContinuitySA’s skilled and experienced support staff is available for any post-implementation help that is required—again on a pay-as-you-use basis. The company has a name for the quality and responsiveness of its support.

“Cloud Connect finally gives SMEs a way to create and manage their own, individually tailored, cloud-based backup and replication solution easily and cost-effectively, while also gaining the peace of mind of a trusted partner in ContinuitySA,” he concludes. “This is the backup solution the SME market has been waiting for.”

www.continuitysa.com

Dimensions Data and SAP partner to launch enterprise solutions for SMEs and corporates in East Africa, hopes to grow cloud business model

Dimension Data has entered into a partnership with SAP, to offer a new set of intelligent enterprise solutions in East Africa.

Aimed at SMEs, and the corporate market, these end-to-end services will help Dimension Data’s clients leverage the agility and costs advantages of managing SAP applications on existing infrastructure and moving them to the cloud. The solutions integrate intelligent technologies such as machine learning, and artificial intelligence to help manage data from multiple sources, further improving customer experience, people engagement, spend management, manufacturing and supply chain solutions amongst many other business functions.

The partnership comes at a time when SAP accelerates its move towards its flagship ERP software, S/4HANA within the region and which will see the firm cease worldwide support of the current Business Suite ERP solutions after 2025.   

“We’ve had a successful track record in enabling our clients make the most out of their SAP environments in the digital transformation era. Moving forward, we will be a critical partner in migrating clients to the SAP S/4HANA digital platform towards the intelligent enterprise era. A key gap we look to fill is continuous SAP Support services through our Managed Services. We look at helping organizations in Kenya optimize their SAP Solutions through our managed services model which not only supports implemented software but also looks at enhancing the entire SAP modules, that require new implementation or enhancements.” Said Ndung’u Kahindo, General Manager – Solutions, Dimension Data East Africa.

Dimension Data also hopes to grow the cloud business model that will enable customers consume and pay for value on the go, especially around adopting and utilizing new technology in IoT and Machine learning environments.

“SME’s and Corporates are acknowledging that operational efficiency, better decision making and continuous collaboration within their ecosystem brings value. This is not achievable without an integrated, comprehensive ERP. For this reason, SAP and Dimension Data have teamed together to build packaged solutions that uniquely meet the needs of these organizations, across people, processes and technology.” Said Joseph Kairigo, Managing Director, Dimension Data East Africa.

Kairigo added that businesses that do not have ERP Systems suffered disjointed and siloed processes which derail internal productivity and affect customer service in addition to having no insight to make better decisions around business expansion, capital investment and resource allocation.

The launch solidifies Dimension Data East Africa’s last announcement in December 2018 of plans to introduce new Enterprise Resource (ERP) and Digital Business Solutions in an ambitious growth drive for 2019 in partnership with leading global enterprise application vendors.

As a global SAP services market leader, Dimension Data offers a complete lifecycle of SAP-related services spanning consulting, implementations, upgrades, integration, applications management and automated cloud migration services.

According to research firm IDC, the global SAP market is estimated at about USD 200Billion. Dimension Data East Africa estimates the current SAP suite market size in East Africa to be valued at about USD 75 Million, with the potential to reach above USD200 Million over the next five years.

In East Africa Dimension Data serves the Public, Financial Services, Service Provider and Professional Services in addition to the Manufacturing and Commercial services sectors that are expected to achieve significant growth driven by cloud adoption, digital automation and localization of IT applications.

www.dimensiondata.com

www.sap.com