Cloud for Africa


Image: By BiztechAfrica
Cloud for Africa

Some analysts and vendors define cloud computing narrowly as an updated version of utility computing: essentially virtual servers available over the Internet. Others go very broad, arguing that anything you consume outside the firewall is in the cloud, including conventional outsourcing. One thing the industry agrees on, however, is that cloud computing is the future of computing.

International Data Corporation (IDC) predicts a five-year annual growth rate of 26% in IT cloud computing services, more thansix times the rate of traditional IT offerings, and that 27 percent of the net new IT revenue in 2013 will come from IT cloud services.

According to analyst firm Gartner, the cloud services market grew 16.6 percent last year, and it predicts that by 2014 cloud services revenue will balloon to USD148.8 billion worldwide. Research company Forrester concurs, predicting that while cloud hype from vendors, the media and other sources will continue to exceed actual user adoption, the various cloud markets and services will start making more sense to business buyers.

Altech ISIS general manager Anton van Heerden says that the company’s understanding of the importance of cloud in the computing and business ecosystems was the reason Altech ISIS began focusing on becoming a cloud services leader during the past few years.

“Cloud services will certainly have a major impact on the IT market over the short term and given the growth potential of cloud services offerings over traditional ones, that percentage will grow very quickly in subsequent years. We are seeing evidence of the growth predictions of the leading international research houses in the increased interest in cloud computing from our customers, proving that our early focus on this area was opportune.”

He adds that this is especially true in Africa, where the bandwidth battle is fast becoming a thing of the past with the landing of the SEACOM and EASSy cables, as well as the BRICS Cable – which  is a 34 000 km, 2 optical fibre pair, 12.8 Tbit/s capacity, fibre optic cable system – will be linking Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (the BRICS economies) and the United States. It will interconnect, amongst others, with the WACS cable on the West coast of Africa, and the EASSY and SEACOM cables on the East coast of the continent. This will give the BRICS countries immediate access to 21 African countries and give those African countries access to the BRICS economies.

“African countries have the ability to accelerate the development of the use of new technologies in advance rather than being reactive. Cloud computing can provide an evolution of the way African businesses approach technology.” Van Heerden says. “Cloud computing is a complex and rapidly evolving concept. First, one needs to understand how cloud computing is defined, and how it will evolve. This will enable an understanding of when, where, how and why enterprises should exploit cloud computing services. It will also help with an understanding of the optimum circumstances for deploying cloud computing.”

As a cloud services broker, Altech ISIS concentrates on improving efficiencies across an entire organisation through the effective implementation of cloud-based solutions. The company’s unique approach allows it to evaluate which cloud-computing models, architectures, technologies and best practices its clients should adopt, and to analyse how cloud computing will affect the strategy and direction of IT and the business.

“The cloud offers new delivery styles and options that are industrialised in a value chain that renders on-premises IT systems and expertise as only part of the overall delivery of IT capabilities to the company. Cloud computing allows IT to evolve its existing function as a department somewhere in the building that runs the reports and keeps the lights on in the server room, to a business unit that helps take the organisation to the next level of efficiency,” he explains.

Van Heerden believes that it is inevitable that all organisations will have to eventually to be part of this shift so as to avoid another risk - losing ground to competitors that are taking the risk. However, the move to cloud computing can be daunting for many businesses. As a broker, Altech ISIS provides the expertise to allow companies to make the shift painlessly, offering a complete service from building a specific business case to strategically implementing a solution.

“Potentially every service, every consumer, and every combination of services may need brokerage. Companies need to align the technology with their business strategy; a move that requires specific expertise in order to be successful. We manage all the steps in the process to ensure that our clients obtain the full value that cloud computing offers,” he concludes.

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