Vodacom goes big on cloud with AWS partnership

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Vodacom group CEO Shameel Joosub.
Vodacom group CEO Shameel Joosub.

Vodacom has announced a strategic partnership with cloud giant Amazon Web Services (AWS), which will see Vodacom become both a customer of AWS and a reseller of AWS services.

"We have signed a strategic collaboration agreement with Amazon Web Services, which will make AWS our primary cloud provider. We will also be a strategic partner, integrator and reseller for AWS services across Africa," Vodacom group CEO Shameel Joosub said during the group's annual results presentation in Midrand yesterday.

"What the AWS partnership entails is firstly us appointing AWS as our strategic cloud provider. That means we will move more services into the cloud, which will bring with it a lot more efficiency. More importantly, it allows you to do a lot more with the data, in terms of the analytics and so on," Joosub told ITWeb in an interview after the presentation.

He said Vodacom will resell AWS services while also designing and selling custom solutions.

"Effectively, we will be a premier partner for them, so we will go to corporates and convince them to move into the cloud, help them with their cloud journey, to migrate their traffic across and so on. And then the third part is building services on top of AWS; so for example, business intelligence-as-a-service, chatbots-as-a-service, security-as-a-service, even Internet of things-as-a-service, all of that can now be done on top of the AWS platform," he explained.

Joosub believes the partnership is a "game-changer" because it takes Vodacom beyond being just a big seller of the connectivity.

"If you think about it, you have got mobile and fixed-line as the connectivity layer, then you put the AWS cloud on top of that and our data centres, so you can have private and public cloud, and you can use that as a hybrid.

"You can do a lot of analytics, forecasting, projections, proactive maintenance, churn predictions, etc, because the information now sits in the cloud and you can harness that data. You have all the AWS services but on top of that AWS also has a third-party cloud and that gives us the opportunity to create products which we can take to market quicker, to our corporate clients. So I'm quite excited about it," he told ITWeb.

Joosub believes the partnership with the biggest cloud provider in the market will be mutually beneficial.

"We obviously have access to the client base because we have such a meaningful market share in corporates so it helps us to play beyond the connectivity layer, which is the interesting part for us. For them obviously it is reach; when you are partnering with someone like Vodacom you get reach and access to that customer base.

"But probably the most exciting part is jointly building solutions in the cloud at a quicker pace. Right now, if you are building it yourself, it would take you a long time to build, so the cloud increases our speed to market for our product development team," he added.

2020 plans

AWS plans to launch its Cape Town infrastructure region in early 2020, finally bringing its data centres to SA. Each AWS region has multiple 'availability zones' and the new AWS Africa region in the Mother City will consist of three availability zones.

Joosub said Vodacom is starting to move its services to the AWS cloud already but a lot of services, especially where there are latency issues, will be functional early next year once the AWS region is fully operational in South Africa.

"We will build an AWS cloud centre of excellence, which will ultimately help us to sell cloud-based technology and move from product-led services to solutions-based services. We will become a certified AWS direct connect partner, while we will train a number of staff and aim to become an AWS premier consulting partner by 2020," he added.

Vodacom will offer over 165 AWS services to Vodacom customers and will become an AWS training partner to train over 100 AWS certified professionals for experienced solution advice.

South Africa is currently witnessing a hive of activity in the cloud services space. In March, Microsoft Azure unveiled its two cloud data centres, one in Johannesburg and another in Cape Town. Chinese telecoms giant, Huawei, also recently began offering its cloud services commercially in SA.

In March, Standard Bank revealed it had chosen AWS as its preferred cloud provider, while Altron announced in March it had migrated its human resource information systems and payroll to Microsoft Azure.

Last year, Microsoft announced Vodacom would make Microsoft Azure solutions available to customers in June 2018.

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