Kathy Gibson reports from VMware Explore – As multi-cloud and cloud smart strategies become the de facto choice for organisations around the globe, VMware reports encouraging growth in South Africa.

And, despite the uncertainty of the Broadcom acquisition in the background, Lorna Hardie, senior director: sub-Saharan Africa at VMware, says it is very much business as usual.

“Everything is still relevant, and we are sticking to our core themes,” she tells IT-Online. “We have had another very strong year in sub-Saharan Africa, with growth well balanced across the continent.”

Technology-wise, Hardie says African organisations are buying into the full range of VMware solutions, and are at least as well advanced as their global counterparts in how they use the technology.

And South African companies are also embracing a multi-cloud strategy. “A recent IDC report showed that 78% of South African customers have more than one cloud strategy. They recognise that if they are going to host the applications in the right place, it is not necessarily going to always be the same place. The choice of cloud depends on the application.”

Multi-cloud, and VMware’s Sovereign Cloud offering, are particularly relevant in the South African context, where organisation have to take into consideration a number of risks and challenges, including a fluctuating exchange rate, ongoing loadshedding and the threat of civil disturbances.

“At the end of the day, all companies are grappling with the challenge of where to run their applications,” Hardie says. “Having to consider issues like power and the risks around uncertainty all point to a need for resilience.”

With increased risks, including massive ransomware attacks on African organisations, is driving more awareness of where workloads and disaster recovery (DR) systems are running.

“These are all very real conversations,” Hardie says. “Sovereignty is another very real issue. Large customers and regulators are involved in active and fluid discussions on data residency and sovereignty.

“In our view, sovereignty means applications and data, including metadata, are hosted locally and subject to local laws.”

While organisations are battling with a plethora of challenges, they are simultaneously being pushed to do more, with less.

“Customers are also battling with budget, and having to optimise their spending. Many of them have had to repurpose their budgets in order to keep the lights on – and now have to remain competitive with less to invest.”

Many of the conversations with customers today are about where to host applications, Hardie says. “A lot of customers had decided to go with a public cloud strategy but are now realising that at least some of their applications are better managed on-premise, where they have security, management and control over costing.

“But they want to get the same experience on-premise as they get on the cloud.”

Another burning issue that comes up all the time is the skills conversation, Hardie says. This is where VMware solutions can offer an advantage in that the same skills can be leveraged in the cloud or on-premise.

“The is exceptionally relevant and is becoming more so, especially as customers realise the value of multi-clouds.”

Like just about every organisation around the world, South African organisations are looking at artificial intelligence (AI) and considering how they can reap value from it.

Hardie believes they should be looking beyond the AI hype and considering how they can leverage their data.

“Organisations should understand the value of the information they hold and how different services can help them to unlock value. There are any number of use cases on how organisations can harvest what they have in their environments.”

She cites examples of how retailers could harvest the wealth of data they already hold to start offering customers financial services. Financial services providers, on the other hand, could start leveraging data held in multiple different silos to create additional services.

“VMware is partnering with customers to create the right technology stack and infrastructure to support it, plus the right solutions to help them mine data more effectively from the source – be it the edge, public cloud or private cloud.”

Hardie expects a lot of interest from customers in Private AI. “What we are doing in that space is very relevant ad topical.”

New enhancements to VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF) are also welcome, she adds. “I am very excited about the VCF story. When I joined VMware six years ago, the narrative was about any app on any device in any cloud. Since then, this has been enhanced to any cloud – private, public or edge – secured and managed. I love seeing how the vision has been delivered and it being further delivered on. And VCF is the foundation that it is all built on.”