Google Cloud takes a bold but careful approach to the SA region

Johannesburg, 05 Jul 2023

Google Cloud is working actively on establishing a new cloud region in Johannesburg, its first in the continent, in a move many believe is a game-changer in access to local hyperscale datacentre infrastructure, cloud expertise, data sovereignty and reliable connectivity.

Google Cloud regions enable the deployment of cloud resources and localise applications and services.A Google Cloud region is also important for data sovereignty or legislation that governs data in the country in which it is collected.

Google Cloud has established 37 regions worldwide, along with 112 zones and 187 network edge locations. Google Cloud says its core objective of the move is to democratise data in Africa and bring scale to the continent. This means not only making data more accessible, but also useful. It also means enriching the cloud experience with services that support migration, ensure security and empower customers with the speed and meticulous attention to detail that successful cloud management demands.

Google Cloud is creating tools and investing in technology that will foster a sustainable future for everyone and enable businesses of all sizes to work more sustainably.

When running on Google Cloud in South Africa, similar to other regions, its customers' usage is net carbon neutral, and the electricity used to power workloads is matched 100% with renewable energy. 

ITWeb roundtable

Google Cloud is eagerly working towards the future region launch and recently teamed up with ITWeb to host an executive leader roundtable in South Africa.

Bringing together customers and partners, the event focused on what the local market can expect from this forthcoming launch, as well as acceleration of every organisation’s ability to digitally transform.

Google Cloud believes the South African cloud market has matured. Businesses have shifted gear in their approach to cloud, big data analytics, automation and artificial intelligence (AI). They can see past the hype and can identify opportunities that digital transformation offers. They are determined to exploit the data-driven digital revolution that has created a cloud-first world, a world that impacts everyone, from the average everyday consumer to small business to large enterprises.

In addition to having experts on board, Google Cloud has a comprehensive service portfolio that covers compute, storage, networking, big data, machine learning and IOT, as well as security, developer tools and cloud management.

Along with the future cloud region, Google Cloud is expanding its network through the Equiano subsea cable and building Dedicated Cloud Interconnect sites in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Lagos, and Nairobi, in turn building full-scale Cloud capability in Africa.

Generative AI

Generative AI is a hot topic in cloud service deployment and delivery today. Google Cloud has been using data and AI in real-world situations for years, but it warns that generative AI comes with its own set of unique challenges, such as inherent bias in content, which is when AI models generate entirely fabricated information and treat it as fact.

This is why Google Cloud has taken a responsible approach to generative AI. Google Cloud is integrating AI into its products boldly, but is doing so with a deep sense of responsibility and adhering to the highest standards of information, integrating with its AI principles of trustworthiness and open standards to its mass base of users.

In March of this year, Google announced that it was integrating generative AI into its Workplace platform. Workplace is a suite of communication and productivity tools under the umbrella of Google cloud that includes Gmail, contacts, Calendar, Meet and Chat for communication, and Drive for storage.

As Google Cloud is firming up timelines for the region launch in South Africa, the company is encouraging local customers to get in touch and is keen to help them meet their local requirements for digital transformation, data security, privacy, and digital sovereignty – without compromising on considerations like functionality, cost, and the developer experience.

The cloud region in South Africa, once live, will bring Google Cloud services closer to the local customers, enabling them to innovate and securely deliver faster, more reliable experiences to their own customers based on data powered decision making - ultimately helping them accelerate their growth.

Google Cloud is also calling on customers, partners and services providers to follow its example and similarly apply AI responsibly and ethically.

While morals and ethics will inevitably continue to be a part of the conversation, the advice to companies is to better understand the technology in order to make calculated, informed decisions about how best to incorporate this into business operations.

* This article is a report-back from an ITWeb Executive Roundtable sponsored by Google Cloud: Accelerating every organisation's ability to digitally transform its business. It was held on 22 June 2023 in Sandton, Johannesburg.