Amazon is expanding its services in South Africa, opening a new office in Johannesburg and planning to hire 250 new skilled staff over the next 12 months.

The new Amazon Web Services Office in Johannesburg complements the existing development centre in Cape Town, which has been operational since 2004.

The company already supports a number of South African customers of all sizes, from start-ups to enterprises and public sector operations.

Most of the 250 new jobs will aim to support Amazon EC2 as well as engineering of new services and networking technologies for next-generation cloud software.

Attila Narin, head of technology and solutions architecture at Amazon, points out that a number of Amazon services were developed in the Cape Town centre, and the new Johannesburg office aims to continue the trend.

“We are super proud to be part of this. We will look back on today and realise we were part of making history.”

Amazon Web Services currently boasts 1-million active customers, Narin says.

“Anywhere there are more than 1-million customers means there’s a strong partner eco-system with people building services on the platform.”

Customer range from start-ups and enterprises to public sector organisations, he says. “We come to the point where cloud has become the new normal in IT.”

“Amazon has been an active contributor to the South African technology community for over a decade,” said Steve Midgley, Head of EMEA, Amazon Web Services. “Over this time we have seen some key technologies of the AWS cloud emerge from the country so it is no surprise we are also seeing strong growth amongst African organisations moving to the cloud.

“Choosing to locate an AWS office in South Africa speaks to the rapidly growing customer base, the broad set of talent here and the investment we are making to support cloud adoption around the world. By expanding our presence in South Africa, and through hiring highly skilled staff, we intend to further accelerate the growth of our cloud customers in Africa and around the globe.”

South African organisations were amongst the earliest adopters of cloud services when AWS launched in 2006. Customers based in South Africa are using AWS to run everything from development and test environments to big data analytics, from mobile, web and social applications to enterprise business applications, public sector and mission critical workloads. AWS now counts some of Africa’s fastest growing businesses as customers including, Entersekt, PayGate and Travelstart as well as established enterprises such as Adcorp, Medscheme, MTN and Standard Bank.

Carlos Conde, technology evangelist, points out that cloud service are very attractive for all companies, but especially for start-ups.

“With the cloud there is no barrier to entry – you don’t have to pay anything to start using the services,” he says. “So there is no risk.”

Many of the start-ups that have become everyday names started in just this way, Conde says. They include AirBnB, Tinder, Dropbox and Viadeo.

However, the same features that make the cloud attractive to start-ups are also resonating with enterprises.

“Big companies are moving to the cloud for agility first and for cost reduction second,” says Conde.

“Look at what companies like AirBnB and Uber have done to existing companies – and they have to do something to stay competitive.”

Large organisations are increasingly allowing start-up type teams to operate within the organisation. These teams use cloud computing to provision the infrastructure they need as they require it.

“Many companies use Amazon Web Services for development and testing,” he says. “There is no risk; and then those workloads can be moved to production.”

Being able to provide capacity on demand is sometimes not enough, Conde says. Agility is important as well, and the speed of provisioning becomes important.

But the range of functionality is important as well. Conde says Amazon has added a arrange of new services to its line-up that cover infrastructure, core services, administration and security, platform services and enterprise applications.

In fact, the company launched 516 new services and features just last year. “So it’s a platform that is constantly adding new services and features that you can use in your own projects,” he says.

“Companies have a wide range of different workloads with significant diversity of needs. In traditional IT, standardisation means you are restricted as to what you can build.

“With Amazon Web Services, different components help to adapt different workloads, which lets you build different applications – and also allows you to make mistakes that are simple to rectify.”