Today Microsoft looks to beat their cloud competitors Amazon and Google to the South African continent with the announcement of two new Azure datacenters which will come online there in 2018. The local data centres will offer "enterprise-grade reliability and performance and local data residency, which is very important for African companies".
"This is a strongly positive development for the cloud industry in Africa, and particularly Microsoft's ecosystem of partners, ISVs and customers". The data centre presence in South Africa will bring Microsoft to 40 cloud regions around the world.
This announcement expands on ongoing investments in Africa, where organizations are using now available cloud and mobile services as a platform for innovation in health care, agriculture, education, and entrepreneurship.
"The addition of VMware Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure puts VMware in a unique position to offer customers several infrastructure options for virtual desktops and applications with the flexibility to move between different platforms", said Sumit Dhawan, senior vice president and general manager, End-User Computing, VMware.
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Horizon Cloud, the outgrowth of the company's Horizon Air virtual desktop service, was launched earlier this year as part of VMware's Workspace One portfolio, initially supporting IBM's SoftLayer as its only public cloud provider.
Research firm International Data Corp. estimates that total cloud revenue in South Africa last year was just $243 million, but expects it to grow almost 20% a year through 2021. They will have a programme in place to assist customers in migrating services and data from offshore zones to the South African facilities. This is not only good for Microsoft and its partners, but reflects really well on South Africa in terms of cloud adoption.
M-KOPA Solar has used mobile and cloud technology to develop an affordable pay-as-you-go solar energy solution to provide electricity to more than 500,000 homes. AGIN has built an app connecting 140,000 smallholder farmers to key services, enabling them to share data and facilitating $1.3 million per month in finance, insurance and other services.
Executive VP of cloud and enterprise Scott Guthrie also hopes that the data centres will act as a "catalyst for new economic opportunities". "That sense of wanting your data close to home and under control is strong, so I think we will see migration of customers moving their workloads to South Africa".