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South African companies make Microsoft Azure shift

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Last week, Microsoft announced the opening of two data centre regions in SA.
Last week, Microsoft announced the opening of two data centre regions in SA.

A number of local organisations have already started hooking up to Microsoft's recently-launched Azure data centres.

One such company which has made the shift to the platform is JSE-listed Altron, which last week announced it has migrated its human resource information systems and payroll to Microsoft Azure.

Altron believes migrating its application data to the cloud will result in cost savings, improved efficiencies, data security and increased response time.

Last week, Microsoft announced the opening of two data centre regions in SA. The unveiling of the two cloud data centres - one in Johannesburg and another in Cape Town - was made by Microsoft SA's newly-appointed MD, Lillian Barnard, at the company's Johannesburg offices.

She said the data centres ensure world-class cloud infrastructure that will power emerging cloud, artificial intelligence and edge computing innovations across the continent.

Microsoft SA MD Lillian Barnard.
Microsoft SA MD Lillian Barnard.

SME interest

Responding to ITWeb on the uptake one week after the launch, Microsoft says: "We have a number of customers live in the local data centre. Unfortunately, we do not share this information."

SMEs are also showing interest in migration to the new facilities. "Azure is a cloud platform that will allow an SME to leverage world-class IT infrastructure and leading-edge technology to start or accelerate their business growth.

"With this cloud platform now in South Africa, the network cost and latency will be reduced. Access to this enterprise-grade technology will enable SMEs to compete in ways that were not possible before; we are seeing the Azure platform truly take technology to becoming an equaliser."

Commenting on the migration of the company's applications data to the cloud, Mteto Nyati, Altron group chief executive and former Microsoft SA MD, says: "By moving our data to Azure, we are putting ourselves in a position whereby we fully experience first-hand, the technology we will be offering to our customers.

"The migration was led by Altron Karabina. This allows us to resolve any teething problems encountered before we start offering this service to our customers."

Altron's migration builds on its 2018 acquisition of Altron Karabina, a Microsoft Gold-certified partner.

"We bought Altron Karabina to provide our customers with a specialist technology service in cloud computing and data analytics. I am impressed that Altron Karabina has delivered this capability with great success internally before going out to customers."

Foreign attraction

Local IT services provider Cloudbox says the new Azure cloud data centres in Johannesburg and Cape Town will make it attractive for foreign companies to run infrastructure in SA.

The company says as the only country on the African continent to run Azure services, it could see a substantial investment from other African countries that want to leverage this technology.

Cloudbox CEO Justin Trent says these enterprise-grade data centres will power cloud, artificial intelligence and edge computing innovations across the continent.

"By taking the data location barrier out the way, it really does put South Africa in a First World position when it comes to technology choices.

"The decision now comes down to functionality rather than being constrained to choices that were defined by data location."

Trent says there has been a lot of debate around the location of data when it comes to adhering to Protection of Personal Information Act regulations.

"This made it tricky for businesses to make a decision where local services were limited or just very expensive. SA businesses now have more choice, which leads to increased competition and will keep local cloud providers in check.

"When it comes to speed and latency, there is a massive advantage of having local data centres. Latency to Azure Europe West has been between 150 and 200ms; local data centres will bring this down to sub-20ms which directly translates to improved user experience for applications."

Business software solutions provider DAC Systems believes the launch of the data centres in SA will provide the African market with much-needed momentum when it comes to cloud adoption.

"Slow latency and regulatory restrictions on where sensitive data is stored have contributed to slower than expected business migration to the cloud. Fortunately, the arrival of these Azure data centres in Johannesburg and Cape Town will fundamentally change this, reshaping the cloud environment in Africa," says Gary Regan, chief operating officer at DAC Systems.

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