In 1963, DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) funded MIT’s Project MAC on the condition that the developers create a technology allowing for a “computer to be used by two or more people, simultaneously.” And thus, the first pillar of cloud computing was placed. Cloud computing refers to the delivery of computing services (i.e., servers, databases, software, intelligence, etc.) over the Internet (“the cloud”). In recent years, cloud computing in South Africa has had an upward momentum. Businesses are realizing its strategic importance and therefore are opting for its incorporation into their operations.
The Benefits of Cloud Computing
Cloud computing has been in the works for decades now. It has enabled an eco-system directed at innovative information and communication technology (ICT) integrations in certain economies advancing their economic growth and social goals.
According to the authors of “Cloud computing in South Africa: prospects and challenges,” three vital technological capabilities need to precede the Cloud so users can experience the full benefits:
- Broadband networks: These networks provide broadband, multi-media, multi-point, multi-rate, and economical implementation for various services.
- Unrestricted customer-service provider flow of information: This flow helps meet customers’ needs.
- Freedom to locate, operate, and scale data centers: The most efficient centers achieve significant economies of scale and scope.
Side note, a company benefitting from an economy of scale has a low average cost because as the quantity produced increases, the cost decreases, while a company profiting from an economy of scope has a low average cost because the costs are spread over a variety of products.
The Well-being of Lower- and Middle-income Countries
Cloud computing was proven beneficial to almost all businesses across the board. But its benefits extend to companies set up in lower- and middle-income countries, such as South Africa, Mexico, etc.
- Competition in higher value-added products: As the world economy becomes more ICT oriented, the Cloud can help a business against the competition.
- Competition in South-South commerce: It is a gateway for the country to participate in a “knowledge economy” (a consumption and production economy based on intellectual capital such as scientific discoveries and applied research).
- Strengthening small and medium enterprises (SMEs): The Cloud reduces the cost of using ICT to expand small businesses into larger ones.
- Increasing the government’s capacity to deliver its services: Citizens greatly benefit from ICT as their government can now provide its services more economically and effectively.
- Developing economies: An adequate Cloud infrastructure improves the economic case for creating broadband networks in lower-income countries creating new revenue opportunities for networks.
The Well-being of Businesses
While ICT benefits countries in general, it dramatically impacts businesses as well. Cloud computing allows companies to expand and transform.
- It facilitates the switch in lCT adoption costs from fixed capital to operational expenses.
- Emerging businesses develop better employment and income but become concentrated in fewer locations.
- It promotes employee migration inside companies.
- Seeing the rising importance of information management, ICT has become essential for organizational success in the evolving landscape of business competitiveness.
Cloud Computing in South Africa
Initially, cloud computing lacked momentum mainly due to a lack of “cloud vendors” (cloud service providers). But that soon changed once the population got acquainted with the technology’s capabilities. As of today, cloud-based solutions have found their way into many businesses, including software- or platform-as-a-service.
Following the COVID-19 pandemic, local companies adopted the hybrid cloud model instead of multi-cloud. The former involves a mix of on-premises infrastructure, private cloud services, and a public cloud, while the latter relies exclusively on multiple public cloud services.
The Providers of Cloud Computing in South Africa
Numerous companies have launched their cloud nodes in South Africa. Consequently, the future of ICT in South Africa is looking very promising.
Amazon Web Services (AWS)
Amazon decided to establish its Africa region (named “Africa (Cape Town)” with the label “af-south-1”) in Cape Town, South Africa, back in April 2020.
Microsoft set up its South African Azure region in March 2018. Additionally, through the Azure Availability Zones, Microsoft is bringing higher availability and asynchronous replication to the table for recovery protection.
Recently, in January 2022, Oracle’s first region in the continent of Africa went live in Johannesburg. The intention is to help budding businesses improve performance and protect data.
Laws Interfering with Cloud Computing in South Africa
Laws are hindering the evolution of cloud computing in South Africa and the world. In the paper mentioned above, the researchers concluded that “South African ICT industry regulation was insufficient for talent monitoring and assessment, as well as company development within the sector.” They suggest that the legislation be modified to allow more thorough monitoring and assessment.
Cloud Computing is becoming an essential part of business plans. It offers several benefits ranging from propping the country’s economy to facilitating business operations. The future of cloud computing is looking very bright, with substantial businesses making the change. Nevertheless, it has many obstacles to overcome to dominate the field. Cloud computing in South Africa has come a long way, especially after significant names in the game have launched their regions there.
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