Microsoft data centres in SA: How this will change your business [UPDATE]

Posted by Johnny Kromer on 17 Oct 2018 11:00:00 AM

Here are some of the benefits of having Microsoft’s Data Centres in South Africa and of having your enterprise’s data in the cloud.

With software giant Microsoft starting to launch its first data centres in the country – and the first ever in Africa – South Africa is set to shrink a huge technology gap that exists between it and other, more technologically mature, countries. The presence of the data centres, along with other local cloud services, will reportedly create approximately 165 000 new jobs in South Africa through 2022.As IT-Online reports, “Yousef Khalidi, corporate vice-president: Azure networking at Microsoft, launched the two new data centres as part of the global Azure hyperscaled platform.They become part of a 54-region ecosystem that represents a multi-billion dollar investment, he says. ‘Today, with these new data centres in South Africa, you join this global network,’ Khalidi says. ‘At the same time you now have your own data centres.’ This means that customers can decide to keep their data locally, or use the platform to expand globally.”

The new facilities are situated in Johannesburg and Cape Town, and will provide highly scalable, secure data cloud services, including Microsoft Azure, Office 365, and Dynamic 365 – all constituting more than 600 million installations around the world, and it will allow communications service providers (such as ourselves) to offer those applications to our clients.

Until recently, South Africa’s closest hyper-scale data centre was located in Ireland. Microsoft opening its data centres on local soil carries a host of benefits to enterprises of all shapes and sizes. The first and probably the most obvious is that having the Microsoft data centres operating within South Africa’s borders will dramatically reduce latency issues. Another advantage is that downtime will be significantly reduced. And since users won’t be at the mercy of the submarine cable anymore, the subsequent downtime that ensues every time the cable snaps or gets ripped up is gone, guaranteeing uptime will be much more secure and viable.

Data in South African borders

Having data reside within South African borders is another of the major benefits, because Microsoft’s data centres will immediately adhere to the country’s local laws. Until now, many of those industries that are not permitted to store sensitive data outside South Africa, such as the government, military, and banking, have been using on premises solutions, such as private data centres, to store their data. However, increasingly, those platforms have been unable to keep up with the volume of data that is being generated. Limited budgets often mean that those institutions have not been able to invest in increased IT infrastructure, putting them at risk of cyberattacks and leaks. Since Microsoft ensures that its customers’ data is protected and used in a transparent manner, the move will enable those industries to utilise Microsoft’s new, local facilities and migrate their classified data to the cloud, all while remaining compliant with South Africa’s various laws and regulations.

Security is improved

Security remains a major challenge for many local enterprises. And with good reason. According to the South African Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRIC), South Africa loses about R2.2 billion per year to cyberattacks. Since Microsoft is one of the biggest data and software companies in the world, they have the means and manpower to focus on security. Where many SMEs have two to three IT guys on staff, Microsoft boasts 3 500 cyber security experts – making all the difference between guaranteed security and uptime. If there is a cyberattack on Microsoft data centres, there will be a fix within days, if not hours. Apart from this capability, Microsoft also has many case studies demonstrating to prospective clients how they have secured a particular environment.  

Take advantage of the cloud

There are still sceptics maintaining that physical backups should be maintained instead of relying on the cloud. In the cloud, data backups are regularly conducted in various ways. Since these backups often go back several months, cloud users will be able to revert to multiple backups up to when the problem occurred or even before it began. While companies might lose some of their data, they are not going to lose their entire organisation’s data. Besides, physical backups such as tapes and CDs can break, get lost or pick up wear and tear – all leading to data being irretrievably lost.

Another advantage of migrating to the cloud is that your enterprise will have immediate access to the latest technology and versions of software and applications. Many companies are reluctant to take on new desktop applications – with a surprising amount still sitting on Windows 7, which is end of life, and even XP – simply because they’re too scared of how switching to a newer version will impact them. But in the cloud, someone else will be managing and maintaining it, while your company stays on the latest technology.

The cloud continually offers companies the next thing on the horizon, where there is always something new. Up until a few months ago, it was Skype for Business, but now that enterprises are using it, the question is already: what’s next? That answer is Modern Desktop, a complete, intelligent solution that includes the latest productivity tools (which often includes Office 365, Windows 10 and Enterprise Mobility + Security), enabling employees to work wherever they need to.

In order to make the switch and to migrate to the cloud, there is an entire process and a proper procedure to be followed. It is advisable that companies first update and clean up their internal directories and get it up to international standards. An environment with an outdated database cannot be managed. For example, problems arise when the Human Resources (HR) database and the company’s IT database aren’t synchronised. Theoretically, HR’s database is the best, because it’s usually up-to-date with the names of everyone in the company and on the payroll, whereas the IT department’s database could be outdated in terms of personnel, yet it contains the details of how many devices your company is using. Synchronising those two databases will create a better understanding of the whole company. The most effective way to go about it is to employ adoption specialists, for they will follow the proper process and roll out the solution. It is one of the services offered by Nashua Communications.

Africa has never had a unique data centre of this capacity or capability on its soil before. Microsoft’s local data centres are going to change the face of South Africa completely. Anybody in the country will have access to the latest cloud-based applications and then the sky will be the limit. Says Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, minister of communications, “If we do not create an enabling environment for businesses to invest in South Africa, our people would miss out on the benefits of technology.”


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