AWS to strengthen cloud presence in Joburg

Admire Moyo
By Admire Moyo, ITWeb's news editor.
Johannesburg, 17 May 2022


This article has been corrected to indicate that AWS will open its Johannesburg local zone later this year. Earlier, AWS had told ITWeb that the facility was launched in February.

US-based cloud computing giant Amazon Web Services (AWS) is looking to further boost operations with the announcement of plans to launch a new local zone in Johannesburg later this year.

This follows some significant successes with the launch of a 3 availability zone region opened in Cape Town in April 2020, to deliver single-digit millisecond latency performance at the edge of the cloud.

With the region launched in Cape Town already, AWS says it has officially declared Johannesburg as the next AWS local zone location.

AWS local zones are a type of infrastructure deployment that places compute, storage, database, and other select AWS services close to large population and industry centres.

The move to strengthen its presence in Johannesburg, South Africa’s economic hub, comes as competition among cloud computing service providers is increasing in the market.

This, as the organisations anticipate a surge in data traffic on the African continent, with more organisations taking their workloads to the cloud.

In 2019, AWS rival Microsoft opened data centres in Cape Town and another in Johannesburg, becoming the first global provider to deliver cloud services from data centres on the continent.

In January this year, US-based enterprise software giant Oracle officially opened its Johannesburg-based data centre, its first cloud region on the African continent.

Other players have also opened new data centres locally, including Dimension Data and Teraco Data Environments.

As data demand and cloud adoption continue to cause a dramatic surge in traffic, data centres are becoming increasingly important on the continent, with more companies migrating components of their IT infrastructure into the cloud.

In an e-mail interview with ITWeb, Chris Erasmus, commercial sector leader for AWS in South Africa, says the AWS local zone in Johannesburg will join 16 existing AWS local zones across the US and an additional 32 AWS local zones planned to launch in 26 countries around the world – reaching hundreds of millions of end-users.

He notes that with the three availability zone region in Cape Town, AWS has been able to empower more public and private organisations, as well as innovative start-ups.

“The local zone will been an excellent continuation of our investment to support customers of all kinds and commitment to accelerate innovation by bringing cloud infrastructure to more locations in South Africa,” says Erasmus.

He explains that AWS local zones give organisations the ability to offer end-users single-digit millisecond performance designed to suit applications such as remote real-time gaming, media and entertainment content creation, live video streaming, engineering simulations, augmented and virtual reality, as well as machine learning inference at the edge, among other use cases.

Chris Erasmus, commercial sector leader for AWS in South Africa.
Chris Erasmus, commercial sector leader for AWS in South Africa.

“In this case, AWS manages and supports local zones, meaning customers in South Africa do not need to incur the expense and effort of procuring, operating and maintaining infrastructure in South Africa to support low-latency applications.

“AWS local zones also allow customers with local data residency requirements in South Africa to run parts of their applications in on-premises data centres and seamlessly connect to AWS while ensuring ultra-low latency for these types of hybrid deployments while using AWS APIs [application programming interfaces] and tools.”

Erasmus says South Africa is poised to attract big investments in data centres and the investments are driven by different reasons.

“Many companies are using data centres to access public cloud-based services, and this is driven by advances in connectivity and data consumption, particularly as smartphone penetration rises in Africa,” he says.

“Organisations are moving their data and processes offsite as this offers compelling cost advantages. Also, South Africa’s IT outsourcing market is a big factor in setting up data centres. South Africa’s growing economy, like many other countries, offers relatively low labour costs and improving IT infrastructure makes it an increasingly attractive region for data centres.”

He adds that the South African economy is increasingly shifting to more productive services and digital technologies, which will provide significant opportunities for young people in the country.

“AWS is focused on providing opportunities in the cloud computing arena. We believe that cloud services will enable start-ups in South Africa to think big and accelerate economic growth.”