Africa, the mobile-centric society

People on the African continent will consume data through their mobile devices, says Andile Ngcaba, chairman and co-founder of Convergence Partners.

Speaking as part of a panel at Didata’s Accelerate 2012 event in Fourways on Thursday (7 June), Ngcaba said that Africa is a mobile-centric society, noting that there are 95 mobile devices for every one PC.

Derek Wilcocks, who has recently been appointed as CEO of Dimension Data Middle East & Africa (MEA), added that Africans were some of the early adopters of the latest technology, however he stressed that technology was not always available to support some of the early innovation.

With the increase in sea cable landings on South African shores, Wilcocks said that the scenario was changing, with coastal towns primarily benefiting the most at this early stage.

He said that within three to five years, SA would undergo a large change in infrastructure development, which would foster a rise in the uptake of the public cloud.

The panel, which was addressing the topic of how to evolve businesses through cloud enablement services, included Greg Hatfield, GM for Cloud Services at Dimension Data Middle East and Africa. The group agreed that latency remains a cloud delivery challenge. Having local cloud infrastructure is key enabler to drive adoption and success, Hatfield said.

In February, Dimension Data launched a range of cloud services aimed at making it easier for businesses to adopt cloud computing.

The group further added on Thursday, that it is to offer cloud services for Microsoft encompassing Microsoft SharePoint 2010, Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 and Microsoft Lync 2010 cloud services hosted in its managed private cloud environment.

The panel acknowledged that security also remains a barrier to cloud adoption. “Security is top of mind for most of our clients,” Wilcocks admitted, before pointing out that better security existed in a cloud environment than traditional IT because of certification.

The panel likened cloud services to banks. Rather than keeping money in a drawer, people use banks as a way to store their cash, however some banks are better than others. “All cloud is not created equal,” said a DiData spokesperson. “You don’t have to spend too much time convincing people to use the cloud, they already are. You should be convincing them to use your cloud,” DiData said.

Hatfield added that it’s about the journey to the cloud, not the destination as nobody disputes the end product.

Wilcocks warned of electricity increases for IT departments, noting that costs will exceed the initial server expenses. The group head also confessed that cloud engineers were scarce in SA. At a technical level, there wasn’t yet enough supply to meet the rising demand.

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Africa, the mobile-centric society