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Cloud services will spur SA digitisation

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The launch of various local cloud platforms is a defining moment in the digitisation of companies and governments across the continent, writes Peter Reid, executive head of Intervate South Africa.
Microsoft recently announced that its Microsoft Cloud would be delivered from data centres in Cape Town and Johannesburg. This follows the news that T-Systems SA and Huawei will bring Open Telekom Cloud (an Open Stack public cloud platform) to local shores; and other providers preparing to establish their own datacentres around the country.
Local organisations can now access some of the more advanced, computing-intensive fields – in areas like artificial intelligence, big data analytics, and connected sensors – which were previously not viable due to the costs of massive data volumes flowing to faraway cloud destinations.
With direct access to these powerful and scalable cloud tools, local firms can confidently commit to bold digitisation strategies – refurbishing and rebuilding systems in local cloud platforms, architecting and designing with greater flexibility and becoming truly cloud-ready businesses.

No reason not to migrate
While many large South African firms have started migrating certain applications to hosted environments, fears and uncertainty around data sovereignty issues often prevent enterprise-wide Cloud transformation. Driven by new data and privacy legislation, many organisations have taken a conservative Cloud view.
In the Microsoft realm, for instance, while local firms may have already been using tools like Office 365 and Azure, the data has always resided in another part of the world.
But with global-class cloud platforms available in South Africa, these concerns around data sovereignty and records management will quickly evaporate – allowing local organisations to accelerate their Cloud strategies. Within the public sector (where these concerns are even greater) we can expect to see a new wave of enthusiasm for cloud-enabled e-government plans.
From a technical perspective, local clouds will address the issue of latency. With overseas data centres, latency is in the region of a couple of hundred milliseconds (at best). Now, we can bring this down to just a few milliseconds, and use dedicated lines to take full control over the connectivity linking your branches to the data centres.
This makes the world of difference if you’re crunching through vast volumes of data, and providing services that require real-time information flows. From stock exchanges to connected cars, the ability to bring latency down to virtually zero is a huge benefit.
As more and more global and local cloud players commit to building South African cloud environments, customers have greater levels of choice. And depending on your existing IT landscape, and your business strategies for the future, you’ll be able to pick and choose the platform that best suits your needs.
It will be exciting to see the effects on our digital economy, as local businesses take advantage of these new cloud platforms, and go ‘all in’ with their digital transformation aspirations.

Perfectly positioned
With an over decade-long close relationship with Microsoft, and as the winner of multiple Microsoft awards, Intervate is naturally excited about the possibilities that Microsoft’s local Cloud will bring.
We’ll now be able to create applications that leverage the unique features of Azure – from advanced business intelligence and analytics, to their SQL database that includes embedded machine learning, performance optimisation and cyber-security defences.
Intervate is perfectly positioned to help local organisations get the most out of their cloud migration journey – accelerating innovation, boosting entrepreneurship and helping to tackle some of our country’s most important problems.
Now, we can expect to see new businesses springing-up, new skills development programmes emerging, and heightened levels of innovation. Imagine the opportunities for the likes of facial recognition technology, real-time language translations, or sophisticated telemedicine services, for instance.
We’ll leverage the very best in cloud platforms, to develop uniquely African solutions that solve our uniquely African issues.