Cloud cover bodes well for Africa telecoms


BT Global Services has a strategy in place to expand and enrich connectivity within Africa and strengthen ties between the continent and Europe.

Chris Pickles, Head of Industry Initiatives, Global Banking & Financial Markets, BT Global Services. (Image: BT Global Services)

This was confirmed by Chris Pickles, Head of Industry Initiatives, Global Banking and Financial Markets at BT Global, ahead of the company’s participation at a convention about cloud technology in Johannesburg.

The company, which, according to Pickles manages “the largest secure networked financial community globally”, recently invested in a multi-million Rand undersea “pipeline” project to connect Africa with Europe.

“South Africa is an important part of our overall strategy,” said Pickles. “It forms part of the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) community. In terms of communication, there exists a domestic pull in South Africa and an external push from abroad to connect to South Africa.”

BT Global Services is pushing the relevance and nature of cloud services to the South African corporate landscape.

Pickles says there are patterns that have emerged within the global cloud environment that are pertinent to business development and it is important that decision makers to review their modus operandi to benefit from advances in technology.

“Our message to the market is that cloud is here and there are established cloud communities that are already using this resource. The vast majority of technology systems in place today are there to maintain operations, to ‘keep things working’. But, we are saying ‘don’t be phased by the change and lose focus’, why not use this resource to deliver customer service?,” he added.

Looking closer at the cloud, Pickles says there are various levels associated with this aspect of business – computing power-on-demand (cloud computing), hosting in the cloud and networking.

It is the last component that BT Global Services is primarily focused on.

The company currently engages the market via service providers and those who use the services. It concentrates on underlying technology and currently has 15 000 financial institutions and 160 000 corporate customers within its cloud community.  It also has 16 million retail customers within its UK customer base.

Advanced payment systems and advent of cloud communities have been identified as key drivers behind the development and rollout of financial technology and architecture.

“There are traditionally seven layers to technology architecture, with presentation and look & feel representing the top layer and the wires, the bottom layer. Today, over time, the layers have begun to mesh and we now see convergence of presentation with core infrastructure,” said Pickles.

The challenge to businesses, particularly during the on-going credit crunch, has been to adapt business models but keep businesses profitable he continued.

Telecommunication and banking services are linked to any corporate growth and development strategy going forward.

Chris Tredger