Article by Amr Kamel, General Manager, Microsoft West, East and Central Africa
Cloud is revolutionising the way companies in Africa do business. The announcement that Microsoft is building two new data centres on the continent will further help businesses in Africa connect to opportunities across the globe while taking full advantage of the benefits cloud has to offer.
The combination of Microsoft’s global cloud infrastructure with the new regions announced for Africa will help accelerate new investments and improve access to cloud and Internet services for people and organisations from Cairo to Cape Town.
So how exactly will a local data centre positively impact businesses on the African continent? Let’s unpack these benefits one by one.
The end of high latency and the beginning of faster connectivity
For some countries and for some scenarios, having their data stored relatively close to where they operate, as well as to where their customers reside, affords them the opportunity to bypass the often-oversubscribed international data channels that cause bottle necks in the transfer of data.
In certain cases; connecting to data centres overseas means longer latency, which affects the performance of services. Latency refers to delays that occur in transmitting data. A local data centre hosted in Africa will decrease this, ensuring a faster and smoother user experience overall.
With decreased latency will also come increased and faster connectivity. Organisations consuming cloud services in Africa will experience improved connection speeds to web services that are served out of Africa.
Your data, your privacy, your sovereignty
One of the biggest barriers to cloud adoption is data sovereignty. The ‘data laws’ of other continents often determine how data is managed – regardless of where the organisation managing the data is based.
For businesses operating in Africa, particularly those in highly regulated industries like financial services or the healthcare sector, data security, privacy and compliance is paramount. A local data centre will provide African businesses with the option of shifting data residency to South Africa, where it will be easier to adhere to compliance, giving them more confidence to migrate to the cloud.
Africa open for more business
Microsoft’s two data centres in Africa will deliver a variety of cloud solutions – all of which include Azure, Office 365 and Dynamics 365. The provision of these cloud services is a positive development for businesses operating in Africa, and will serve as a crucial catalyst for new economic opportunities.
Having a local data centre on the continent will enable more organisations to scale globally – in turn accelerating new interest and ultimately investment. Cloud, delivered directly from Africa, will also provide local developers and entrepreneurs with the ability to create new and innovative apps and assist governments in better serving citizen needs.
There are businesses in Africa that still make use of on-premise data centres to store sensitive data. These organisations spend a lot of time, money and operational resources to ensure that they have staff always available in case of power and infrastructure failure.
The presence of local facilities will offer specialist technology, reducing internal operational expenditure, and allowing IT teams to focus on the core business – maximising business potential. Microsoft’s data centres will also provide cost savings through energy efficient infrastructure that spans across over 100 secure facilities globally – advancing sustainability.
Microsoft’s investment of two data centres in Africa speaks volumes on the state and maturity of cloud on the continent. We expect that local businesses, entrepreneurs and investors will see the same potential we see in Africa’s digital transformation journey.