Microsoft’s data centre investment to boost SA cloud adoption

SD WANs to hit the mainstream in SA’s telecom market
Robert Marston, ‎Global Head of Product at SEACOM.

Robert Marston, ‎Global Head of Product at SEACOM.
Robert Marston, ‎Global Head of Product at SEACOM.

Microsoft’s announcement that it plans to build hyperscale datacentres in Cape Town and Johannesburg to deliver a range of cloud services, is set to give a massive boost to enterprise adoption of infrastructure-as-a-service, software-as-a-service and other cloud services in South Africa.

That’s the word from Robert Marston, ‎Global Head of Product at SEACOM, who says that Microsoft’s decision to locally host cloud services such as Azure, Office 365 and Dynamics 365, will not only enable it to offer better performance and lower latencies, thereby providing a better end-user experience, but will critically lower the cost barrier for adoption of these services for enterprise customers.

“This represents a significant step forward for South Africa’s IT industry because it means organisations can access Microsoft’s rich selection of cloud services from a local data centre,” he adds. “This will not only give them more reliability, faster speeds and lower latencies than they can get when accessing cloud services from data centres in Europe or the US, but will also cut out international connectivity costs which have typically been a barrier to entry for the move to the cloud.”

Up until now, many enterprises have chosen private clouds or to work with local public cloud providers that lack the capabilities of the world’s top cloud computing providers in an effort to ensure reliable, fast access to cloud applications and services, says Marston. When the Microsoft data centres go live in 2018, enterprises will be able to enjoy the full Azure experience with no performance compromises or hefty data charges.

Many CIOs will also be reassured that their data is hosted in a local data centre that complies in full with South African data protection laws, he adds. “Knowing that the data centres are in Cape Town and Johannesburg rather than Ireland or Germany will give many organisations the confidence to migrate more aggressively to the cloud,” Marston says.

With Microsoft hosting its cloud services locally, it is only a matter of time before the other cloud providers also start to set up data centres in Africa, says Marston. “The investment from Microsoft is a signal that the cloud market in South Africa and the rest of Africa has come of age. This is a great time for companies who have not yet made extensive use of cloud services and applications to jump in,” he adds.

“The cloud business model simply makes sense for Africa, where skills and budgets are often lower than other developed markets. Using cloud computing for solutions such as infrastructure-as-a-service and software-as-a-service promises African organisations massive cost-savings to operate and maintain their own data centres and on-site IT infrastructure. It also enables them to ramp computing capacity up and down in response to changing business needs, and gives them the flexibility they need to innovate and grow with little risk. This is all being made possible by the growing availability and falling cost of high-speed fibre Internet access.”

Until the Microsoft African data centres go live, African businesses can fast-track the digital transformation of their organisations by tapping into affordable, dedicated Ethernet links on SEACOM’s resilient network between their own IT environments and the world’s leading providers of cloud computing services such as Google, Microsoft, Amazon and IBM. SEACOM offers a high-performance, secure alternative to accessing cloud services across the public Internet.

By Robert Marston, ‎Global Head of Product at SEACOM