“Africa cannot operate in isolation” says NetApp’s Patrick Maphopha

Sekete Patrick Maphopha, SE manager for Africa at NetApp.
"Africa cannot operate in isolation" says NetApp's Patrick Maphopha
Sekete Patrick Maphopha, SE manager for Africa at NetApp.

Data management and storage company, NetApp will host a Partner Academy event on the 23rd of November 2017 in Nairobi, Kenya. At the event, NetApp will discuss some of the latest solutions and services they offer in Africa.

Speaking of the Partner Academy event, Patrick Maphopha, SE Manager of Africa and Technology Evangelist for the NetApp SSA region said, “On a quarterly basis, NetApp does a Partner Academy as well as Customer Day around the region. This time, at the event in Nairobi, we will talk about new updates relating to NetApp. Additionally, we will discuss our story and how we support customers. To add to this, we will discuss our contribution to digital transformation.”

“NetApp launched hyper-convergence infrastructure (HCI) about two quarters ago and we have been doing it around the world. We are now launching it in East Africa, it is our second platform HCI, it addresses the first-generation challenges. If you look at what happened with our first Hyper Convergence Infrastructure launch. If you wanted to grow your capacity, you also had to grow your compute and this was a disadvantage. When you grow your storage capacity and your compute, you have a challenge that you also have to pay for the software licenses,” said Patrick.

The NetApp HCI offers a solution that aims to address three challenges that the first-generation had. This includes the ability to grow independently. It allows customers to run multiple applications. The HCI is available in mix-and-match small, medium and large storage.

Patrick said, “This is because first-generation was more of, if you want virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) you employ VDI, if you want to deploy exchange you run another for exchange, so what we did to give customers a single infrastructure was that we created our second-generation multi converge to create multiple workloads and also give quality service. We also address performance.”

NetApp has been in Africa for the last 25 years. The company operates in countries such as Angola, the whole of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region, as well as Kenya. As they move from being a storage company to being a data management company, NetApp aims to address challenges that customers are facing today.

Patrick says the first challenge that customers face is capital expenditure, he says that with the need to digitally transform… most customers battle to keep pace, “what NetApp has been doing in Africa is that customers can have the ability to adopt hybrid cloud, they can use technology on-premises and buy their own infrastructure, where there is a challenge they can then use the pay-as-you-go function and rent the infrastructure from the hyper scalers.

NetApp has had an integration with hyper scalers such as AWS, Microsoft Azure, IBM Linux. The company provides data fabric framework which gives customers the capability to choose.

“What is key is that you need to have the capability to move data, for instance, today if you procure your infrastructure from A and tomorrow you find that hyper scaler B provides cost-effective solutions, we give customers the capability to move their data within all the hyper scalers,” says Patrick.

“Data is growing and for us, it is about how we give you the capability to move your data. The infrastructure that we build and how we integrate with hyper scalers,” he adds.

Patrick believes that Africa cannot operate in isolation, he says that African countries need to be given the capability to interact with the rest of the word. It is very important that African countries adopt technology and at a pace that they can afford.

“We also take cognisant of the fact that there are skills challenges in Africa so NetApp also tries and address that with our data management solutions. For NetApp, it is key that all African countries stay on the map, adopt technology and can keep pace with the global market and obviously for the companies in our region, the faster time to market is key,” says Patrick.

“Gone are the days where you could run mainframe and data sits in one location, today data is distributed, it is dynamic, it’s structured and unstructured,” adds Patrick.

Most companies in Africa, especially start-ups, lack the capital expenditure to procure infrastructure. NetApp allows these companies to utilise infrastructure in the cloud.

Patrick says, “We give customers that use Office 365 the ability to utilise the NetApp cloud control services so that they can copy back the data wherever they are in the world. Hybrid cloud gives you the capability to do work on premises, locally in your own data centre. One of the fundamentals of data fabric is our technology called ONTAP. We have ONTAP in the cloud and ONTAP in the data centre. Our customers can have ONTAP in the data centre but can run disaster recovery and business continuity in the cloud with any hyper scalers.”

NetApp has solutions that assist start-ups to have the capability to adopt cloud and the ability to use data in the cloud.

“What we say to startups is that as they grow, it is easier for them to adopt for example ATI and grow as the business grows. Customers don’t know where they will be in 10 years’ time, what we encourage them to do is to start small as they build data, have the ability to manage the data and as you do so you can build and scale non-disruptively,” said Patrick.

By Fundisiwe Maseko
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