Microsoft has officially launched two Azure cloud data centres in South Africa, one in Cape Town and the other in Johannesburg, after the software giant missed an earlier deadline of December 2018 to take the facilities live.
Lillian Barnard, newly appointed MD at Microsoft South Africa, said at a press conference in Johannesburg on Wednesday that the data centre region is live with immediate effect.
“The enterprise-grade data centre regions in Cape Town and Johannesburg … will power cloud, artificial intelligence and edge computing innovations across the continent,” Barnard said.
Microsoft missed a self-imposed deadline of December 2018 to launch the two cloud data centres. Reasons for the delay centred on speculation that a third-party supplier was initially unable to deliver to specification.
Microsoft was right not to rush the launch of two Azure data centres in South Africa, because if problems had cropped up it could have tarnished the company’s reputation among local customers, Jon Tullett, research manager for IT services at International Data Corp (IDC), said in January.
“The availability of Microsoft’s cloud services delivered from Africa will mean local companies can securely and reliably move their businesses to the cloud while meeting compliance requirements,” said Yousef Khalidi, corporate vice president of Azure Networking at Microsoft, on Wednesday.
“The combination of Microsoft’s global cloud infrastructure with the new regions in Africa will increase economic opportunity for organisations in Africa, as well as connect businesses across the globe through improved access to cloud and internet services,” Khalidi said.
According to IDC, spending on public cloud services in South Africa will nearly triple over five years from R4.3-billion in 2017 to R11.5-billion in 2022, and the adoption of cloud services will generate 112 000 net new jobs in South Africa by the end of 2022.
Microsoft has announced 54 cloud regions worldwide, which it claims is more than any other global provider. Azure is the first of Microsoft’s intelligent cloud services to be delivered from the new data centres in South Africa. Office 365, Microsoft’s cloud-based productivity solution, is anticipated to be available by the third quarter of 2019, and Dynamics 365 intelligent business applications will be launched in the fourth quarter.
Rivals lining up
Since Microsoft announced its plans to launch the data centres in South Africa in 2017, its biggest global cloud computing rival, Amazon Web Services, has announced it plans to open data centres in South Africa, with the first to go live next year in Cape Town.
The new AWS “infrastructure region” will be launched in the first half of 2020 and will allow customers to run workloads in South Africa and serve end users across the African continent with lower latency, Amazon said in a statement in October 2018.
In November 2018, Chinese technology giant Huawei also revealed plans to create a cloud region in South Africa. The company said on Tuesday, a day ahead of the Microsoft launch, that its Huawei Cloud offering was now live. — (c) 2019 NewsCentral Media