Kathy Gibson at VMworld in Barcelona — As organisations around the world buy into the software-defined data centre (SDDC) and cloud-first narrative, VMworld is enjoying sterling growth in South Africa and the sub-Saharan Africa region.
Matthew Kibby, regional director: sub-Saharan Africa at VMware, shares the news that the region is seeing growth rates above the company average in all the markets it operates in.
“We are enjoying good growth in South Africa, but also in our focused west Africa territories of Nigeria and Ghana; and there is exceptional growth in East Africa, in Kenya and Ethiopia.”
What VMware calls the “needle movers”, the new innovations like NSX, EUC (end user computing) and vSAN, are doing particularly well in Africa. “But the core technology is still growing as well,” Kibby says.
Deals of less than $100 000 are growing substantially, he adds. “This is a good indication of where the market is going.
“But we are also seeing an increase in the number of very large deals that we are putting together. For instance, we are starting to see million dollar-plus deals. And they are across the board from financial services to telco to public sector customers.”
Among the major challenges in the African market, social-political issues are probably the biggest, Kibby says. He points to the recent Kenyan election, where business slowed ahead of the polls, and is slowing again as a rerun is on the cards.
Cloud is taking off in the region, he adds, especially with moves by Microsoft and Amazon to extend their cloud services in South Africa.
“Customers across a range of industries are embracing cloud technologies,” Kibby says.
Smaller service providers are also starting to embrace VMware technologies, more particularly in South Africa than other parts of Africa.
Digital transformation is taking off across Africa, according to Joe Baguley, chief technology officer: EMEA at VMware.
“There is a lot happening. Traditional organisations are having to re-invent themselves.”
Kibby says this is particularly true in the telco environment. “Telcos are a massive growth market in our region. And the telco that gets to market first with a software-defined solution like NFV will have a huge advantage. They are all racing to be first to market.”
In the telco space there’s also a growing realisation that the IT department can start providing services across the telecommunications network.
“With the advent of NFV and software-defined networking in the telcos, the IT department is in a position to become the network platform provider looking after both the internal IT platform and the commercial network.”
Among the challenges to digital transformation are change management issues, says Ian Janse van Rensburg, VMware southern Africa senior manager: technical pre-sales. “Operational issues like people and processes are still challenges,” he says.
“The awesome technology is available, but people and processes are often still living in the past. You’ll find that the network team, storage team and data centre team still don’t collaborate with one another.”
The conversations around SDDC and digital transformation are happening, and companies are starting to think seriously about how they can implement technology to change their businesses.
“It’s becoming a reality now for some of the bigger companies: they are actively deploying software-defined storage and SDN, and starting to use it.”