Microsoft’s bi-annual TechEd Africa 2013 took place recently and the relevance of the local market, in terms of ICT growth, was a key theme.
JJ Milner, MD and Chief Cloud Architect at Global Micro shares the highlights of TechEd Africa 2013 with ITNewsAfrica and his opinion about the opportunities and challenges that face the local IT industry.
From your point of view, what is the main message coming out of TechEd Africa 2013?
I think it is fair to say that not only from our perspective, but as a wider audience talking point, a key message coming out of TechEd is the role of the locally-based cloud service provider and how we are uniquely positioned to deliver solutions relevant to the South African market. There are a number of companies that want to move from on-premise hosting but are not prepared to host their data in Europe (or elsewhere internationally) due to issues such as security concerns, back-up and support and indeed differing legislations from one country to the next. The message of the importance of local hosting is a strong one.
Where do you think the local IT industry is placed to make the necessary shifts?
I believe that people often underestimate the talent that we have in South Africa and Africa and are too quick to look across the water for trends and solutions. This is changing however, and local businesses are being made increasingly aware of the benefits of opting to keep things local. South Africans ‘get’ South Africans and understand each other’s business and technology requirements. It also helps that we have no legacy infrastructure, so we can learn from the mistakes of other countries and leap frog international markets. In spite of adversity at times, I feel that the tenacious spirit of South African is so strong and this can be seen in the entrepreneurial culture of our people as well as the continuing surprises and successes of South African across the globe!
So, you are clearly extremely optimistic about the local IT industry, but where do the challenges lie?
We tend to underestimate bandwidth and the role of connectivity in cloud solutions. The cost factor is no longer a barrier to adoption as it is relatively affordable. However, the design and implementation of connectivity directly affects customer’s cloud experience. It is therefore important to work with an experienced local service provider who understands delivery in the South African context and is able to design and deliver consistent and reliable connectivity.
Looking at TechEd Africa 2013, what technologies (new or existing) are you most excited about and why?
Microsoft is our most strategic partner and we are aligned with Microsoft on almost every technical level, from software development to an infrastructure perspective. This was reiterated in the opening keynote by Microsoft. Together we can educate and share skillsets that partners need going forward.
As the country’s most experienced hosted infrastructure IT provider, our mission is to ensure that we are continuously adding value and remaining relevant to the evolving needs of our customers. A significant part of this guidance is ensuring connection and exposure to our partners from around the world. TechEd Africa 2013 has seen us hosting a number of high level partners , inviting them to engage directly with customers.
One such partner is Joel E. Allan, Founder, President and Chief Executive Officer at Allenport who has been hosting talks on the Global Micro stand and giving attendees the best insight into how businesses can handle their Cloud services. This is fitting given that we launched our Virtual Filing Cabinet and Office on Demand, a technology developed by Allenport to deliver the best possible Cloud storage experience and business-grade service, currently available on the Cloud services platform.
Another partner is Garry Olah, VP of development for Apprenda, who we have chosen to power a new public platform-as-a-service offering for our customers. By offering the leading enterprise grade PaaS on the market today, we can ensure customers in the African and Middle East regions with the strongest Cloud solution available.
Chris Tredger, Online Editor