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Microsoft is not the only tech giant to be investing in African cloud infrastructure. Amazon Web Services (AWS) will do so as well, the upshot being significant potential rewards for local businesses.

South Africa is buzzing with the news that Microsoft and Amazon Web Services (AWS) are opening data centres on local shores.

Just last week we covered the news from a predominantly Microsoft perspective, and this week we have some comment from Peter DeSantis, VP of AWS global infrastructure, who was speaking to select journalists on the side-lines of the company’s annual re:Invent conference in Las Vegas last month.

AWS Data Centres

In case you missed it, AWS announced it would bring its data centres to SA, opening an infrastructure region in Cape Town in the first half of 2020.

ITWeb reports that DeSantis was excited by the fact that latencies were going to radically decrease due to the current distance of South Africa from AWS’ European data centres.

Each AWS region has multiple ‘availability zones’ and the new AWS Africa region in the Mother City will consist of three availability zones. AWS currently provides 57 availability zones across 19 infrastructure regions worldwide.

DeSantis pointed out that AWS bringing a data centre to a new geography not only meant opening up the datacentre itself, but referred to an accompanying large supporting infrastructure investment as well, leading to a fully self-contained infrastructure region inside that country.

Africa is clearly of importance to AWS, with CEO Andy Jassy stating that the company expects to launch more infrastructure regions in Africa after the planned Cape Town region.

While Microsoft has reclaimed some of its former glories under new cloud-focused CEO Satya Nadella and has recently been battling Apple for the title of world’s most valuable public company, AWS has experienced its own phenomenal growth within the cloud computing space. It’s expected to generate more than $26bn in revenue this year and experienced revenue growth of 46 per cent in the last quarter alone.

Cloud Investment in South Africa

The fact that AWS and Microsoft, two of the world’s biggest companies, are both making big infrastructure investments in South Africa over the next year or two signals that cloud’s race is by no means run, and will no doubt boost the presence and uptake of the technology in the region.

As mentioned in last week’s blog post, local South African companies will no longer face obstacles in terms of latency, security, legal compliance and data regulation issues when it comes to their cloud needs. With their information previously only having the option of being hosted in European data centres, these were traditional stumbling blocks for some when it came to transitioning to cloud.

With these concerns effectively being countered with the introduction of new prestige data centres, many industry analysts are now foreseeing a boom in local cloud services uptake, not to mention much-needed job creation around these major infrastructure projects.

Further transition to cloud can only be good news for Africa as well. Cloud technology is a known enabler of agile and flexible business models such as Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS), and looking longer term, 4th Industrial Revolution technologies such as the internet of things (IoT) and artificial technology (AI).

Breeding familiarity with current cloud systems and setting up a foundation for 4IR technologies will go some way to levelling the technological and economic playing field for Africa and its people.