Pamoja, the cloud services business unit of Seacom, is poised to take advantage of the evolving local cloud services market, characterised by the rise of telcos and ISPs over traditional IT service providers.

The company, established in 2011 by Seacom founder Brian Herlihy and Stafford Masie, former GM of Google SA, is a provider of wholesale cloud computing services via telecommunication companies, ISPs and other service providers in southern and East Africa.

The cloud computing business model allows a variety of services organisations to diversify their existing offerings and get closer to their clients. Telcos and ISPs are looking to move up the value chain by enhancing their connectivity services with cloud-based IT services.

Financial service providers are adding cloud services to their products in order to enhance the business value of their SME offerings and increase customer retention rates.

These institutions have also recognised the cloud as a source of new revenues, with global investments in cloud services projected to more than double from an estimated $55-billion in 2011 to almost $130-billion annually by 2015.

Pamoja’s cloud services will be provided via the company’s network of data centres, located directly on the Seacom submarine infrastructure. The first cloud platform is running in the Mtunzini cable landing station near Richards Bay. The second platform is planned for Kenya, after which roll out will occur as and where there is demand.

As Seacom’s strategic arm leading entry into content aggregation and associated cloud computing services, Pamoja is leveraging off its parent company to build an SME cloud services marketplace and take its white-labelled cloud services to the market through a channel of resellers.

To date Pamoja has three channel partners in South Africa, three in Kenya and in discussion with others in Tanzania, Rwanda and Zambia.

In order to get the cloud offerings embedded into the DNA of their channel partners Pamoja has adopted a channel-development lifecycle that includes sales readiness, marketing assistance and ongoing support.

“Our channel partners continue to experience a surge in interest in cloud services in the African market. The drivers range from organisations responding to the global interest around cloud computing to organisations who look at driving business value from IT but cannot afford to deploy and operate all the business systems they require.
“At the base level SMEs are looking for quality e-mail, intranet and accounting services. They are prepared to pay for quality. A basic cloud-based accounting services at below R120.00 per month is in high demand,” explains Albie Bester, GM of Pamoja.

The company has its sights set on service provision and on opportunities that exist within Africa’s growing cloud services space.
Bester describes the aggressive push by telecommunication companies to exploit a demand for cloud-based IT services.

“Telecommunication revenues are starting to slow down and the need for new revenue streams is becoming more urgent. One of the fundamental building blocks in cloud computing is connectivity.
“The combination of these two aspects represents a perfect catalyst for telecommunication operators to embrace cloud as an offering. With a need to be more than just carriers for the over-the-top (OTT) players such as Twitter and Facebook, telcos are becoming real players in the ICT space with more emphasis on the ‘I’ that ever before,” he says.
“The result is that traditional IT players, including SIs and VARs, will start seeing their lunch being eaten by the telcos. It is easier for a telco to offer commodity cloud-based IT services that it is for an SI to offer basic broadband services,” he adds.
According to Bester, the market can expect to see mid-sized system integrators being absorbed by telcos as the need to offer more advanced cloud-based services grows.
Pamoja will officially launch on 11 March.