AWS lights up Cape data centre region to rival Microsoft in SA

Admire Moyo
By Admire Moyo, ITWeb's news editor.
Johannesburg, 22 Apr 2020

Amazon Web Services (AWS) today announced the opening of the AWS Africa (Cape Town) Region.

In 2018, AWS announced it will bring its data centres to South Africa, opening an infrastructure region in SA in the first half of 2020.

With this launch, AWS now spans 73 Availability Zones within 23 geographic regions around the world, and has announced plans for 12 more Availability Zones across four more AWS Regions in Indonesia, Italy, Japan and Spain.

The opening of the AWS data centre in Cape Town comes amid a hive of activity in SA’s cloud computing space.

Earlier this year, ITWeb reported SA will see a cloud “land grab” this year as multinational companies open their data centre facilities locally.

Last year saw US-based software giant Microsoft open two data centre regions in SA, becoming the first global provider to deliver cloud services from data centres on the African continent.

In March last year, Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei started offering its cloud services in SA. The company is leasing a data centre in Johannesburg from a partner, from where it is deploying localised public cloud services based on local industry policies, customer requirements and partner conditions.

US-based enterprise software company Oracle in September last year also announced plans to launch data centres in SA.

Driving innovation

In a statement, AWS says starting today, developers, start-ups and enterprises, as well as government, education and non-profit organisations, can run their applications and serve end-users in Africa with lower latency and leverage advanced AWS technologies to drive innovation.

“The cloud is positively transforming lives and businesses across Africa and we are honoured to be a part of that transformation,” says Peter DeSantis, senior vice-president of global infrastructure and customer support at AWS.

“We have a long history in South Africa and have been working to support the growth of the local technology community for over 15 years. In that time, builders, developers, entrepreneurs and organisations have asked us to bring an AWS Region to Africa and today we are answering these requests by opening the Cape Town Region. We look forward to seeing the creativity and innovation that will result from African organisations building in the cloud.”

The company says the AWS Africa (Cape Town) Region has three Availability Zones. AWS Regions are composed of Availability Zones, which each comprise one or more data centres and are located in separate and distinct geographic locations with enough distance to significantly reduce the risk of a single event impacting business continuity, yet near enough to provide low latency for high-availability applications.

It explains that each Availability Zone has independent power, cooling and physical security, and is connected via redundant, ultra-low-latency networking. AWS customers focused on high availability can design their applications to run in multiple Availability Zones to achieve greater fault-tolerance.

Like all AWS infrastructure regions around the world, it adds, the Availability Zones in the Cape Town Region are equipped with backup power to ensure continuous and reliable power availability to maintain operations during electrical failures and load-shedding in the country.

Says the company: “With the new region, customers with data residency requirements, and those looking to comply with the Protection of Personal Information Act, can now store their content in South Africa with the assurance that they retain complete ownership of their data and it will not move unless they choose to move it.”

Ongoing investment

It points out the AWS Africa (Cape Town) Region adds to Amazon’s ongoing investment in South Africa.

Amazon first established a presence in Cape Town, setting up a Development Centre in 2004, to build pioneering technologies focused on networking, next-generation software for customer support and the technology behind Amazon EC2.

In 2015, Amazon expanded its presence in the country, opening an AWS office in Johannesburg, with growing teams of account managers, business development managers, customer services representatives, partner managers, professional services consultants, solutions architects, technical account managers, and many more to help customers of all sizes as they move to the cloud.

In 2017, the Amazon Global Network expanded to Africa through AWS Direct Connect, and in 2018, Amazon established its first infrastructure on the African continent, launching Amazon CloudFront locations in Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa, followed in 2020 by an edge location in Nairobi, Kenya.

Werner Vogels, Amazon CTO and VP, says: “An AWS Region in Africa will enable businesses and government organisations, including those focused on fighting the effects of COVID-19, to build cloud applications and store their data locally, while reaching end-users across Africa with even lower latency.

“Speed, and the ability to quickly deploy technology resources, has been essential to help communities operate during the COVID-19 shutdown in South Africa. Using AWS, COVID Connect, a volunteer group of local developers, was able to spin up and deploy a Web site on AWS in three days, where hospitals and clinics with a shortage of food, water or medical supplies can be quickly connected with people and organisations that have surplus of these materials.”