South Africans are innovators but digital services need work

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Lorna Hardie, VMware country manager SA.
Lorna Hardie, VMware country manager SA.

The adoption of VMware solutions in South Africa is happening at an "incredible" pace.

This was heard in a round table during VMworld 2018 in Barcelona this morning when three VMware SA executives discussed the trends and challenges facing the South African market, as well as the technologies they are implementing to meet them.

Products such as Pivotal Container Service (PKS), VMware Cloud on AWS and NSX SD-WAN by VeloCloud are helping customers with their digital transformation journeys and simplifying cloud-based networking, the panel said.

"South Africa is referenced to in EMEA in terms of our customers and adoption in the region. South Africans are innovators by nature and we are naturally more resourceful," said Mark Reynolds, commercial business executive, Sub-Saharan Africa at VMware.

However, one area in which he said South Africa is lacking is in the delivery of digital services to its people. "We are seeing a lot of inertia in South Africa. Other countries in Africa, such as Nigeria and Kenya, are doing amazing things around digital services."

Intrinsic security

A top priority for businesses in South Africa is to address security threats and to secure their applications, said Lorna Hardie, VMware SA country manager.

Security must be enabled at the foundation of the IT architecture and across the whole environment, not just in one of the layers or components, said Hardie. That includes data, applications, infrastructure and access - and it must be easy to operationalise.

Unfortunately, she said the majority of security solutions available today are reactive and ineffective.

"We have had discussions in South Africa around 'intrinsic security' and the challenges in the local market. The introduction of vSphere Platinum and AppDefense, which will use AI, machine learning and the power of technology to understand what's going on with the application, will address these challenges."

Dynamic momentum

Ian Jansen van Rensburg, senior systems engineer at VMware, said there is a lot of "dynamic momentum" happening in South Africa at the moment.

"To address edge computing - the approach that lets organisations process data where it is created - VMware's Project Dimension is working with VMware Pulse IOT Center," said Jansen van Rensburg.

Project Dimension, a hyper-converged appliance that brings VMware Cloud functionality to customers' on-premises data centres and edge locations, includes remote offices located some distance from the business's core technology infrastructure.

Pulse IOT Center provides a solution to monitor and manage all the enterprise IOT devices and IOT infrastructure.

Once installed and set up, which takes a matter of hours, Project Dimension hardware appliance operates exactly like a VMware software-defined data centre.

Jansen van Rensburg said these services are ideal for remote regions in Africa across education, retail, manufacturing industries and wherever a business needs edge services. "They can be implemented anywhere in a matter of two hours. It talks to our market, by giving them the digital foundation to support new technology."

He said VMware could be described as "the TCP/IP of virtualization".

"If you look at multi-cloud and what VMware is doing in South Africa with telco providers, and what we are doing from a device perspective and from a cloud perspective, VMware is effectively becoming the TCP/IP of virtualisation.

"We are on the device, we are on the network, we are in the data centre, and we are putting a virtualisation layer on top of cloud, because cloud is the new hardware," said Jansen van Rensburg.


Finally, speaking of the Heptio acquisition, announced yesterday, he said many South African businesses are looking at Pivotal's container services, which entail Kubernetes.

Heptio was founded by the creators of Kubernetes, an open source system for managing containerised applications across multiple hosts.

In addition, software and services company Pivotal and VMware have delivered PKS, a comprehensive Kubernetes portfolio that covers customer use cases for on-premises deployment and as a cloud service. It allows enterprises to operate Kubernetes and run all their applications in a cloud-agnostic way.

"A lot of the financial guys we are working with are deploying containers within their environments. They want an easy way of operationalising those environments and, at the same time, they need to keep them secure. Heptio will help with that," said Jansen van Rensburg.

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