There is growing demand for new IT infrastructure throughout East and Southern Africa, according to Brenton Halsted, Chief Technology Officer for infrastructure services company Silicon Sky – and many businesses on the continent are taking advantage of the opportunity to start from the ground up with leading-edge virtualised environments.
“We’re seeing major demand for greenfields virtualisation in Africa,” says Halsted. “Financial Institutions launching retail banking services, for example, don’t have decades’ worth of old systems and design to accommodate – so they are able to make the most of all the benefits of virtualisation. It gives them a huge cost advantage.”
Halsted says lack of connectivity is no longer a major obstacle. “There is still some instability, but it’s a lot better than it was. Things are workable. International bandwidth is available and there is a lot of competition in the market for last-mile service providers.”
Warren Olivier, territory manager for backup and replication software vendor Veeam, says most of these businesses are working across borders – which creates extra needs for data protection and backup. “It’s very typical to find a company which is headquartered in, say, Botswana, with operations in Uganda and Nambia and infrastructure housed in South Africa. From both a compliance and an operational point of view, they need to be very rigorous about protecting all their data and systems.”
“Veeam is a critical part of the service we provide to our customers,” says Halsted. “Protecting their data and enabling business continuity is just part of it – we’re also seeing Veeam being used in development and test environments.”
Olivier explains that a Veeam backup of a virtual machine can be copied just like any other file, and that a virtual machine can be restored from backups within a couple of minutes. “It provides a quick and easy way for software development teams to make and test system changes without posing any risk to operations,” he says.
Halsted says that because virtual environments can be managed remotely, clients are able to take advantage of a global skills and resource base. “We can have a development team in India, working on a system in Johannesburg that’s supporting a business in Kampala,” he says. “It’s easy to add new virtual machines, allocate extra storage or processing power or restore from a backup when a developers code causes system issues – all without any risk to the business.”