Adoption Of Cloud Problematic In Africa; Experts Say ‘Try It Out’

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Written by Dana Sanchez

Experts say issues like security, cost of investment and control over data have hampered Africa’s uptake of cloud solutions, even as the same experts urge the market to “try it out,” according to a report in ITNewsAfrica.

There is consensus that applying cloud technology (large numbers of computers connected through a real-time communication network, typically the Internet) will benefit the continent, speakers said Thursday at an ITNewsAfrica event in Johannesburg. The topic was “Real-World Cloud Adoption.”

Africa is the ideal platform for cloud adoption because there is a lot less legacy in place, said Avi Mistry with Intel Corp., a U.S.-based multinational semiconductor chip maker considered world’s largest and highest valued.

“Try it out,” Mistry said. “Try it in a non-mission critical production-type environment, in those grudge purchase areas like disaster recovery, like test and development. You will soon realize that the cash injection to your budget becomes so much more compelling to then have freedom to try other things. It is about putting money back into your budget, rather than taking out constantly on simple operations. So it is about working strategically.

“And Africa, being green fields in many regards, does not have the baggage of having to pay off those investments,” Mistry added. “So, the ability to quickly jump onto agile, elastic and scalable solutions is very easy and compelling. Africa can play catch-up and, of course, exceed a lot quicker.”

Mobile apps, economic aid and tech development ecosystems will drive cloud in Africa, said Ian Duvenage with Frost & Sullivan Africa, in his presentation entitled “Africa, adopting cloud on its own terms.” The U.S.-based company provides market research and analysis, growth strategy consulting and corporate training around the world.

“In Africa…it is cheaper to move data to centers in Europe via undersea cables, than it is to move it a couple blocks down the road,” Duvenage said. “Technology has been on the radar for African governments and cloud is a high priority … there are quite a few governments that will recognize the value the technology brings to countries and to the way they function. There is a nice equation that goes something along the lines of for every tentative increase in connectivity, there is an increase in productivity. Cloud makes it so much easier to get services up and running.”

Advantages associated with cloud solution adoption include flexibility, productivity, agility, capacity and resource capability, as well as opportunities to extend the use of bandwidth, the report said.

However, realizing these advantages and positioning a business to the point of being ready to take on the cloud require a change in mindset, said Grant Morgan, general manager of cloud for Dimension Data Middle East & Africa. Dimension Data is a South Africa-based  ICT services company that has gone global.

“I think South Africa has been pretty reserved when it comes to cloud,” Morgan said. “I think what has been encouraging for us is that over the last six months adoption has really started to take off.”

Morgan said businesses in Africa need to ask questions such as, “What happens if I had infinite computing resources tomorrow and I could use it for one hour?” or “If I had a huge amount of bandwidth available to me, what could I do?”

Customers who make use of cloud can grow their businesses quickly, he said.