AWS reaches into Africa

Local organisations have already been hooked by AWS, and, within a short space of time, they are plugging into AWS or endorsing its technology.

South African organisations have wasted no time plugging into Amazon Web Services (AWS) datacentres, which the US-based company switched on in Cape Town earlier this year.

Organisations had been eagerly awaiting the local presence of AWS datacentres since 2018, when the company announced plans to open shop in South Africa.

It was, however, beaten by Microsoft, which opened two local datacentre regions in 2019, becoming the first global hypserscaler to deliver cloud services from datacentres on the African continent.

The AWS Africa (Cape Town) Region has three Availability Zones. AWS Regions are composed of Availability Zones, which each comprise of one or more datacentres and are located in separate and distinct geographic locations with enough distance to reduce the risk of a single event affecting business continuity, yet near enough to provide low latency for high availability applications. Each Zone has independent power, cooling and physical security and is connected via redundant, ultra-low-latency networking. This means developers, startups and enterprises, as well as government departments, educational institutions and non-profit organisations can run their applications and serve end-users in Africa with even lower latency and leverage advanced AWS technologies.
Elevating partner status

Systems integrator Dimension Data now has AWS Advanced Consulting Partner status, and said it expected synergies would be unlocked as the hyperscaler now has regions in Bahrain and Cape Town, and edge locations in Johannesburg, Nairobi, Kenya and Dubai, matching the territories of the NTT company.

As an Advanced Consulting Partner, DD will combine its migration, automation, application DevOps and managed services skills to help organisations access AWS services such as IoT, AI, machine learning, advanced analytics, mobile and cognitive services.

As a Direct Connect partner with more than 20 points of presence for AWS Direct Connect globally, DD will be providing multi-Gbps fibre connectivity to the AWS Africa Region from its datacentres, client premises and MPLS and SD-WAN networks.

This will ensure the high performance of latency-sensitive applications, while decreasing the total cost of cloud ownership.

Vodacom also has Advanced Consulting Partner status and said Vodacom Business would now expand AWS services such as big data, AI and machine learning to clients.

It has selected AWS as its primary cloud provider and is migrating the core of its information services landscape, including over 4 000 workloads, to the AWS Cloud. As a result, Vodacom will be able to increase the automation of services and business processes.

Build it and they will come

As soon as AWS announced the local facilities, vendor-neutral datacentre solutions provider Teraco moved to build its second datacentre in Cape Town in anticipation of a surge in traffic.

Teraco has been an AWS Direct Connect partner since 2017 and AWS Direct Connect is available in Teraco’s Johannesburg and Cape Town datacentre facilities. There are over 250 network providers at these facilities. The connect service is accessible via a direct cross-connect within Teraco through the Africa Cloud Exchange platform.

According to Teraco, this platform offers predictable, high-performance, SLA-based connections, and is a good place to build cloud and on-premises hybrid architecture solutions. It also points out that clients’ sovereignty requirements are now moot.

Cheaper, better

Other local companies that have hooked into AWS include Artificial intelligence (AI) startup DataProphet and bioinformatics tech company Hyrax Biosciences.

AI-as-a-Service startup DataProphet believes the new AWS datacentres will help it provide its customers with improved efficiencies, high data security, increased response times and regulatory compliance capabilities.

DataProphet enables manufacturers within the automotive, casting and wheel fabrication industries to implement autonomous manufacturing.

While it has been utilising AWS services for a while − including Amazon EC2, Amazon S3, Amazon Route 53 and Amazon CloudFront − the company says it will be migrating to additional services to scale its infrastructure to meet high demand without degrading the user experience.

“As a company that relies heavily on the leading cloud services of AWS, the new datacentres will provide our customers and engineers with the highest levels of security, availability, compliance and data protection,” says CEO and co-founder Frans Cronje.

Through its AI-powered platform, PRESCRIBE, a proprietary technology that runs on AWS, DataProphet says it will help customers around the world with improved product quality outputs, and reduce costs by an average of 40%.

Hyrax Biosciences specialises in high-performance web services that analyse DNA for infectious diseases to conduct accurate and cost-effective drug-resistance tests. It says AWS is playing a crucial role in the accuracy, speed and efficiency of the Covid-19 testing process. It has also recently released a software tool to detect mutations in the genome of the coronavirus.

The Hyrax Biosciences Exatype SARS-COV-2, a genotyping tool used globally for SARS-COV-2 genotyping, runs on the AWS cloud to track the evolution of the virus as it spreads.

AWS history in SA
  • The relationship between AWS and South Africa dates back to 2004 when the company opened a development centre in Cape Town that focuses on building pioneering networking technologies, next generation software for customer support, and the technology behind Amazon EC2.

  • Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) is a part of Amazon’s cloud-computing platform that allows users to rent virtual computers on which to run their own applications.

  • In 2015, AWS continued its expansion, opening an office in Johannesburg, and in 2017, it brought the Amazon Global Network to Africa through AWS Direct Connect. The following year, it introduced Amazon CloudFront to South Africa, with two new edge locations in Cape Town and Johannesburg.

  • After the Cape Town datacentre launch in April, AWS now spans 73 Availability Zones within 23 geographic regions around the world, and it also announced plans for 12 more Availability Zones across four more AWS Regions in Indonesia, Italy, Japan, and Spain. 
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