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The future is bright for Africa …

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Kathy Gibson reports from VMworld 2016 in Barcelona – African organisations will arguably see the greatest benefit from new technologies and services announced by VMware over the last few days.

Matthew Kibby, regional director: sub-Saharan Africa at VMware, believes that the company’s move to embrace any cloud, any app and any device is particularly significant for customers in Africa and South Africa.

“A lot more African companies than we might have expected are embracing hybrid cloud,” he tells IT-Online. “In fact, we are quite blessed in sub-Saharan Africa in many ways because customers don’t have a legacy, so they can leapfrog straight to the new technologies – and many are doing just that.”

Kibby has also welcomed the news that VMware will be offering its cloud services on Amazon Web Services as many of the VMware’s African customers already have a relationship with the cloud provider.

“A lot of our customers are talking to AWS, or already running production workloads on the service. So the messaging around the strategic relationship is very exciting for us.

“It also means that when we talk about any cloud, we really mean any cloud. So the AWS announcement really is a big deal.

“It’s also the next step for us in terms of what we will be bringing to market – and it’s what customers have been asking for, giving them the flexibility, elasticity and agility to move in and out of the cloud as needed.”

VMware Africa’s Ian Jansen van Rensburg explains that the new offering effectively puts NSX on top of AWS, creating a new network and moving workloads in an out.

He is excited about the fact that AWS is making this move, which could be the first in a commitment to open up its own platform.

Although the vSphere 6.5, which is the basis of the Cross-Cloud Architecture, is expected to be commercially available this quarter, the AWS offering will only hit the market about the middle of 2017.

VMware’s new Cross-Cloud Architecture is also good news for the local market, Kibby adds.

“Cloud computing is in pretty much the same position that server computing was just a few years ago.

“Customers want to move forward with digital transformation, but many of them are asking how they will actually achieve it.”

To make a successful digitalisation transition, he says, customers have to start doing things differently. “It means allowing customers to access you using and device where and when they want to. It means employees need to be able to access systems anywhere and how they want to.

“And, as every department within the company becomes involved in deploying IT, you need to be able to manage it.”

In fact, Jansen van Rensburg believes customers have to start changing the way they think about IT. They already have an idea of how the business should be moving; not they need to change they way they think about the IT that will drive those changes.

“If IT starts thinking of themselves as being the internal service broker, shadow IT will effectively go away, and IT will be the hero again.”

In fact, VMware often finds itself performing operational transformational services, he adds.

“We go into customers and help them to change the way they think about how they should run their IT. Because, if they don’t change the way they think about IT, they won’t change the way they run it – and they will keep on doing the same things.”

Part of the old way of running IT, he says, it base decisions or deployments on a specific technology – and this needs to change in the new world of digitalisation.

“It’s not based on Cisco or HP or Microsoft anymore. It is based on what we can put together from an application perspective and run it seamlessly.

“And if we can’t do it, the customer will go somewhere else.”