Telkom subsidiary BCX, in partnership with Chinese multinational technology company Alibaba Cloud, has officially launched its Africa Local Public (ALP) Cloud service, which goes live from two Johannesburg-based data centres today.
Alibaba Cloud − described as the intelligence backbone of the Alibaba Group − together with systems integrator BCX bring local enterprises several public cloud services, including databases, networking, security, analytics, application services and big data, to drive digitalisation across the continent.
Last year, the organisations signed a distribution contract to grant BCX exclusive right and authority to distribute Alibaba Cloud’s products and services in SA and across the African markets where the IT services company has presence.
BCX and Alibaba Cloud say they aim to enhance the technology capabilities of enterprises across the continent, with low latency and high efficiency.
According to BCX, the initial capacity will be made available to larger enterprise clients and will be further expanded with additional products and capacity, pending specific demand from clients.
Speaking at the launch in Centurion this morning, BCX CEO Jonas Bogoshi said the partnership seeks to create significant benefits for African organisations, through the combination of regional strength, local pricing, global reach, specialised and personalised services tailored for the African market.
The collaboration is well-positioned to serve businesses looking to expand into the Southern African Development Community region, as well as those wanting artificial intelligence and big data capabilities integrated into their cloud solution, he noted.
“The launch of ALP Cloud serves multiple purposes, one of which accentuates our dedication to maintaining a local presence,” explained Bogoshi.
“As a result, when our customers opt for BCX local cloud services, they will be directly connecting with, and supported by, a South African company. This strategic initiative addresses the rising demand for secure, scalable and high-performance cloud solutions that cater to the distinct requirements of South African businesses.”
The service will come from two availability zones: BCX’s Midrand-based data centre and Teraco Data Environment’s Isando-based data centre.
BCX says it has scaled and improved the data centres to accommodate the new service, which is being rolled out in three phases.
The first phase is the current launch focused on servicing South African firms. The second phase, which is under way, will see it being expanded to Mozambique, with deployment completion expected in the fourth quarter of 2023.
The third phase includes setting up a Cape Town-based data centre, with plans to further expand according to customer demand.
The growth of Africa’s cloud sector is leading to more international players choosing to enter the market. Since 2019, SA has seen an influx of tech companies investing in local data centres, including hyperscalers like Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services, as well as the likes of Teraco, Dimension Data and Huawei, among others.
In September, Google confirmed plans to establish a data centre in South Africa, in the medium- to long-term.
While there is growing competition in the market, BCX says it has opted to charge for the ALP Cloud service in local currency, in contrast to other hyperscalers in the local market.
Jan Bouwer, chief solutions officer at BCX, noted that billing in local currency alleviates the challenge posed by the unpredictable exchange rate.
“ALP Cloud ensures data stays within South Africa, addressing data sovereignty and compliance requirements. BCX also aims to align with the principles of the national data and cloud policy, which seeks to promote data sovereignty in South Africa.”
Headquartered in China, Alibaba Cloud provides cloud computing services to businesses across the globe and Alibaba's own e-commerce ecosystem.
Its cloud services are available on a pay-as-you-go basis, and include elastic compute, data storage, relational databases, big-data processing, distributed denial-of-service protection and content delivery networks.
Alibaba Cloud is billed as the largest cloud computing company in China and Asia Pacific, operating data centres in 85 availability zones across 28 regions globally.
In terms of reach, Alibaba Cloud services are distributed across 70 countries worldwide, where it serves over three million customers.
Advisory services firm Dgtl Infra ranks Alibaba Cloud as the fourth-largest cloud service provider globally after Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud.
According to the company’s results statement for the fiscal year ended 31 March, Alibaba Group recorded consolidated revenue of $126.49 billion, an increase of 2% year-over-year. Income from operations was $14.612 million, an increase of 44% year-over-year, it says.