Amazon's Michael Needham discusses Cloud trends in Africa


“In 1997, Amazon CEO Jeff Bizos said: ‘This is Day One for the Internet. We still have so much to learn.’” Twenty years later, he still talks about the Internet as an uncharted world, with new surprises all the time. But if we accept that it is Day One and around midday in the USA and Europe, in Africa, it is still early in the morning,” Amazon Principal Solutions Architect Michael Needham told the delegates at the inaugural MyBroadband Cloud & Hosting Conference at Gallagher Estate in Midrand on 9 June.

He said that Amazon had identified four key trends in cloud computing on the continent from the massive amounts of data it had at its disposal:

  • Disowning the physical data centre. Companies are increasingly moving towards outsourcing to a managed colocation data centre because of the potential cost-saving and productivity benefits.
  • Data centres as code. As the cloud is completely programmable, there is no need to manually define things anymore and powerful commands can painlessly complete complex tasks. Needham called this "rocket fuel for developers".
  • Infrastructure-less design patterns. Needham said this is the fastest-moving trend and cited the popular Autochartist app, which tracks financial markets and is housed on Amazon's web services platform as an example. Providers are dispensing with third-party applications and servers entirely to allow developers to use managed services to execute code.
  • Service stewardship. "Corporates are moving from network complexities to the public cloud. Developers are integrating applications across Infrastructure and Software as a Service platforms. There are no operating systems and a whole swathe of services you can leverage and steward into your organisations. Even banks are outsourcing their authentication services," said Needham.

Needham said these trends would go some way towards seeing Africa catch up with the rest of the world. He could not confirm the rumours that Amazon were planning to build data centres in South Africa, because he was not privy to this information, but said that it was a "distinct possibility and had to be a prioritisation exercise because the closest centres are in Ireland and Germany". He concluded that the outlook in the African market was positive, citing Kenya and Nigeria as countries that were using the cloud in eCommerce activities to stimulate their economies.

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