While take up of the cloud in other African countries seems set to outpace that in South Africa, Red Hat, the world’s first commercial proponent of open source technology and the only one to make the rapid innovation in open source consumable in an enterprise environment, continues to view South Africa as tier one.
Research by WorldWideWorx shows that, during 2014, 24% of companies in Kenya, 44% in Nigeria and 16% in South Africa intend to use cloud computing services. This means that, in 2014, South Africa could hit a cloud computing usage rate of 66%, while Kenya may rise to 72% and Nigeria to 80%.
“We’re seeing a similar trend among our customers in Africa,” says Red Hat Vice-President,
Southern Europe, Middle East and Africa, Michel Isnard. “However, South Africa remains prominent in our African strategy because of the size of the addressable market, the level of education within the IT community, the market’s depth of experience in infrastructure solutions, and the fact there are a considerable number of multi-nationals whose African headquarters are in the country.
“That said, for most countries on the continent, the cloud is about accelerating development and enabling governments to more rapidly extend their service delivery capabilities. For the companies operating in those countries, a priority is to meet the demands of employees who want to use in the workplace the kind of cloud services they can access on their personal devices.
“In both contexts, the cloud represents a massive opportunity for Africa to reduce upfront infrastructure investment. It also offers more agility at lower cost at a time when budgets, as elsewhere in the world, are tightening.”
Mr Isnard points out that the cloud was born in and is an extension of open source principles and technologies and that, for Africa, moving to the cloud logically also means using open source.
“It doesn’t make sense, though, to simply acquire open source products. To get full value, it means embedding open source technologies and principles throughout one’s technology landscape.
“For this reason, we’re calling on our partners on the continent to extend Red Hat’s reach beyond our Enterprise Linux footprint using business solutions based on the end-to-end portfolio we offer. We’re recruiting partners who are experts in all areas of the IT environment, from middleware to Big Data – and capable of developing and implementing complete projects, including professional services.”
As definitions of the cloud vary from user to user and vendor to vendor, most organisations are still in the planning phases of cloud, focusing on the immediate promise of operational agility and capacity for innovation that open source offers.
For this reason, Red Hat is recommending that organisations consider its concept of an open hybrid cloud.
While the concept refers to ‘open’ in terms of open source, it also includes a commitment to open standards, open APIs, and open innovation, allowing customers to maintain architectural freedom, the ability to incorporate the latest and best-of-breed technologies and, ultimately, freedom from vendor lock-in.
‘Hybrid’ refers not only to combining the public and private cloud but also to physical, virtual, or cloud deployment flexibility - and the ability to incorporate legacy systems, applications, and data.
The word ‘cloud’ is not limited to off-the-shelf attributes but incorporates on-demand capabilities, elastic scaling, hassle-free automation, resource pooling, and measureable results.
“Open source – and its near relative, the cloud – is not just a technology option,” Mr Isnard says. “It’s a holistic approach to business. It’s not part of the big picture. It’s what makes the big picture possible. That’s why we expect it to have a significant impact on Africa’s development.”