Photo: File
CAPE TOWN - Microsoft's opening of its first cloud data centres in South Africa today marked a historic milestone for South Africa and the continent as it will allow for faster, more agile business operations and provide access to next-generation technologies.

The technology giant announced the launch of Microsoft Azure saying it was available from its new cloud regions in Cape Town and Joburg.

The multimillion-dollar investment in South Africa, which Microsoft declined to disclose the value of, through its cloud services is set to create economic opportunities for the country and boost employment.

More global firms have announced their intention to open up shop in South Africa. Huawei announced in November it would open its first public cloud data centre in Africa in Joburg this year while Amazon Web Services (AWS) will also bring its data centres to the country, launching its AWS Africa (Cape Town) infrastructure region in the first half of 2020.

Lynda Stadtmueller, the vice-president for network, data centre and cloud at Frost & Sullivan, said that the Azure cloud centres in South Africa were the foundation for digital businesses.

“It supports faster, more agile business operations and provides access to next-generation technologies such as analytics, AI (artificial intelligence), collaboration tools, internet of things and more."

Stadtmueller said with the assurance of cloud infrastructure availability, global enterprises would have the confidence to expand their African operations.

Frost & Sullivan said Microsoft had missed its own deadline to launch the data centres by the end of last year.

According to Frost & Sullivan, multi-tenanted data centres would drive growth in data centre revenue in the local market. The firm said data centre revenue contributed 8percent toward the overall ICT industry and was expected to reach R8billion this year with a growth of 10.6percent.

According to an IDC study, spending on public cloud services in South Africa would nearly triple over the next five years from R4.29bn in 2017 to R11.53bn in 2022 and the adoption of cloud services would generate nearly 112000 net new jobs in South Africa by the end of 2022.

Yousef Khalidi, corporate vice-president of Microsoft Azure networking, said the combination of the company's global cloud infrastructure with the new regions in Africa would increase economic opportunity in Africa, as well as connect businesses across the globe through improved access to cloud and internet services.

Lillian Barnard, newly appointed Microsoft SA managing director, said the Microsoft Equity Equivalent investment Programme (EEIP) had evolved to include investment in technology solutions in agriculture and digital transformation in manufacturing.

Barnard said the EEIP was also funding skills development among South Africa’s young software developers and would continue investment in the Independent Software Vendors sector to strengthen local intellectual property and accelerate their growth in the global market.

BUSINESS REPORT