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Opportunity, choice hovers as public cloud takes hold in Africa

Opportunity, choice hovers as public cloud takes hold in Africa

African businesses will be spoilt for choice in the coming years given the expected increase in the continent's public cloud service requirements, according to industry insiders.

Competition in the cloud space is growing... from Google partnering with DigiCloud to bring the Google Platform to the rest of Africa, AWS' anticipated launch of its cloud datacentre in South Africa in 2020 to Microsoft's hyperscale datacentres being operational in South Africa and the UAE.

Corne du Preez, Technology Solutions Professional - Applications and Infrastructure at Altron Karabina, believes the competition will mean organisations can choose between the best price and the best service.

"With competition this strong, small, medium and enterprise businesses will be looking at who can provide the services required to be ultra-competitive in this new digital frontier," said du Preez.

It could also bring about new challenges for organisations to consider multi-cloud strategies to achieve their business outcomes, he added.

Microsoft cited an IDC study which stated that spending on public cloud services in South Africa will nearly triple over the next five years, while the adoption of cloud services will generate nearly 112,000 new jobs in the country by the end of 2022.

Kate Mollett, Regional Manager, Africa at Veeam, said the IOT space will drive tremendous volumes of diverse data that needs to be stored, protected and available to be leveraged in unprecedented ways.

"For IOT to truly flourish, organisations need to offer continuous availability and as a result, we expect solid growth in this region," said Mollett.

Du Preez added organisations must still consider a range of cloud-related questions including where to place applications, what latency could be when moving applications to the public cloud, where customers come from, whether to use edge computing, and what the geopolitical limitations are.

They have to wrestle with a number of critical decisions such as whether or not to move to the cloud, invest in their own datacentres or rent datacentre space, he adds, stressing that each option has its advantages and disadvantages.

"Most applications will never be able to move to the public cloud. Reasoning is that some applications are old, and it will take a lot of time and money to rewrite, refactor and then re-host them. CIOs will have to decide what can (be) moved to the public cloud data centres, what will stay and what the cost of this decision is going to be. Not only is the cost an issue but going into a hybrid solution brings its own complexities. This is not an easy decision to make as this will be based on functionality versus cost versus agility."

MSP investment

Trent Odgers, Cloud and Hosting Manager for Africa at Veeam, believes the outlook for datacentres and the data economy in Africa is "very good".

He says the continent is "just starting to take advantage of how technology can reduce costs, increase capabilities and deliver services that were never possible before."

According to Odgers Managed Service Providers (MSPs) in South Africa are investing more in datacentres as Teraco's larger datacentre is almost full.

"Whether you pay in dollars, euros or pounds globally for IT, public cloud seems more cost effective, but local MSPs will charge less than R0,50 per GB for storage, but to remove your data or make an external copy outside of the public cloud can cost R2 per GB for egress," Odgers said. "That is four times the amount to transfer data versus actually storing it. Public cloud is therefore pushing for your data to never leave."

He adds that organisations in Africa would not have to decide whether to build on-premises datacentres or use the public cloud in the future because MSPs are increasing and diversifying their offerings - Azure might not suit the needs of all businesses and its Return on Investment (ROI) is still higher than on-premise (local) or managed cloud with a local cloud provider.

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