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Local partner role is critical to cloud success in Africa

It is advisable to perform a rapid and confident migration to a private cloud, whether delivered by a hyperscaler or a localised provider.

Johannesburg, 27 Nov 2019
Read time 3min 50sec
From left: Dave Funnell, VMware Senior Manager: Cloud Provider Business, Sub-Saharan Africa; Andrew Cruise, managing director, Routed; Guy Zibi, principal analyst, Xalam Analytics.
From left: Dave Funnell, VMware Senior Manager: Cloud Provider Business, Sub-Saharan Africa; Andrew Cruise, managing director, Routed; Guy Zibi, principal analyst, Xalam Analytics.

While cloud technology presents a significant opportunity for enterprises to innovate as if they were potentially start-ups, the time and approach that some are taking to make this decision could ultimately cost them. This is according to Guy Zibi, principal analyst, Xalam Analytics. Zibi was a keynote speaker at Hype, the recent event series hosted by vendor-neutral cloud infrastructure provider Routed.

In his sessions in Cape Town and Johannesburg, Zibi said there was no doubt that the African cloud was here: “While customers are going digital at an alarming rate, competition is increasingly amorphous and more agile. There are also thousands of start-ups looking to disrupt. Traditional rivals are becoming more agile and are leveraging new technologies, making the African cloud complex and varied.” 

He said this had led to many enterprises playing a defensive strategy, and they were now looking at how to leverage technology to grow revenue: “This is predominant in consumer-facing businesses and has led to growth of mobile applications and a rise in the use of analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML).”

This, while data volumes grow, budgets get tighter, economies slow down, and unpredictable power supply, cyber attacks and a heavier regulatory burden all make the landscape more challenging.

How organisations approach the cloud largely hinges on what and where they are, according to Zibi. Is the market cloud-ready? How important is technology in the production chain? What is the quality and cost of connectivity?

“In Africa we are seeing selective cloud usage, which includes a mix of basic and critical workloads on site and a mix of full-blown migration. The latter includes lift and shift; re-platform; replace/rebuild and re-architect,” said Zibi. 

“Interestingly,” he said, “the financial services sector is the most progressive in Africa, having moved to a combination of off-premises and public cloud.”

Migration patterns in cloud-ready markets have been amplified by the arrival of hyperscalers, which is evident in the acceleration of the financial services sector. While rebuild/replace is not seen as a viable option, lift and shift, together with re-architecting, seem to be dominating cloud migration.

“Rehosting is growing within financial services as well as in retail,” said Zibi. “However, the public sector and industry are slower. It is this reluctance to consider viable alternatives that could affect the outcome and success of cloud migration across several industries.”

He said there was room for locally attuned platforms in Africa: “While it is good to see global market-leading cloud platforms in Africa, it is highly likely that several markets and sectors will be highly dependent on local providers. Managed service providers (MSPs) will play an important role in cloud migration, but they must evolve.”

Dave Funnell, VMware Senior Manager: Cloud Provider Business, Sub-Saharan Africa, said the growth of applications is driving cloud adoption, with a different destination depending upon the life-cycle status of the application. This is leading to a hybrid multi-cloud world, with the requirement for cloud services not just from the hyperscalers, but also from hosted private clouds. 

Having recently presented Routed with Africa’s first VMware Cloud Verified accreditation, he said that these cloud platforms provide customers with a valuable proposition: the easiest and lowest risk pathway for migration to the cloud.

“The reality is that it’s a hybrid cloud future, with multiple cloud providers. The majority of applications being migrated to the cloud are ‘lift and shift’, so why expend the time, cost and energy to migrate over months and years to a hyperscaler, often with unpredictable results. Rather perform a rapid and confident migration to a private cloud, whether delivered by a hyperscaler or a localised provider, such as Routed. 

“This is why all six major hyperscalers, including AWS and Azure, have partnered with VMware, and it explains the growth of localised cloud provider partners, who deliver services tailored to their clients’ requirements. As more enterprises adopt a 'cloud first' strategy, I expect the private cloud market to grow in lockstep with the native hyperscale requirement, making the role of companies like Routed and other MSPs critical,” said Funnell.

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