The official opening of Microsoft’s two Azure datacentres in South Africa has made it more attractive than ever for local companies to propel their businesses into the future with cloud services.
I am confident that Microsoft’s local cloud presence will lead to greater efficiencies in existing businesses and provide entrepreneurs with the opportunity to innovate and leverage the competitive advantages of the cloud. In addition, it will encourage the development of business apps, and offer many other advantages that will boost economic activity, create jobs, and help South Africa to grow.
Unleashing the full potential of the cloud, through platforms such as the datacentres, means as a country, we are empowered to make use of the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” that President Ramaphosa spoke about at his year’s SONA to grow and thrive.
Currently, there are 220,000 people inside the Microsoft ecosystem in South Africa; by 2022, another 53,000 are said to be created, due to the addition of the local data centre.
The ball is then in our court as we are faced with the challenge of ensuring that we develop our people with the necessary skills they will need to take advantage of the opportunities arising in the near future. This means interrogating our approach to education from the foundation phase right through the tertiary level but also upskilling the current workforce to deal with the rapid changes.
No more barriers to entry
As an Azure provider in South Africa, our journey has given us insight into the local view of the cloud. For instance, we are confident that the presence of datacentres in Johannesburg and Cape Town will address the two biggest cloud-related concerns from the local business community: latency and data sovereignty.
With those two vital aspects no longer a deterrent, I firmly believe that local cloud adoption is poised to accelerate at pace, bringing with it all of the economic benefits we know cloud provides, including job creation.
It also allows businesses to change the narrative with partners, moving the conversation from challenges of data sovereignty and latency to what our partners want to do with Azure, and how we can enable them to achieve their business goals.
It’s an opportune time for us, as our strategic business objectives are now focused on growing and accelerating our partners’ journeys into the cloud.
I believe that’s a crucial shift, one that will ultimately pay dividends both literal and figurative for the South African economy and the local business environment as a whole.
Having datacentres located close to the country’s busiest economic hubs and connected by super-fast networks means improved response times.
I’m talking millisecond response times in the tens and not the hundreds as was the case until now, which means apps and services built with Azure and hosted locally will no longer be negatively affected by our distance from EU and US servers.
And because Microsoft is keenly aware of the regulatory environment of every country they operate in, by default all data stored on the local Azure servers will be POPIA-compliant.
That means businesses no longer need to worry about where their cloud data is stored, and if it complies with government legislation.
As such, they can take on projects that had previously been outside their territory, helped by the fact that POPIA and Europe’s GDPR legislation overlap considerably, which opens up even more opportunities beyond our borders.
Alive with possibilities
Ultimately, the arrival of local Azure datacentres is a key contributor for business development, for government, and for the country at large. It’s a sign of Microsoft’s confidence in us, and a commitment from them to continue helping businesses in South Africa and beyond to do more, be better, and grow.
As for what’s next, addressing the country’s connectivity challenges is the next logical step towards driving cloud adoption even further. That can be done by making sure that affordable internet is accessible at maximum reach. And we’ll get there.
Another aspect we need to take a look at is whether or not we can start building a culture of innovation in South Africa; one that allows people to start thinking creatively about using technology to solve social, business and economic challenges.
For now, Azure’s arrival in the country means there has never been a better time to let cloud take your business to the next level.
Anton Herbst is the CEO of Tarsus On Demand.