Most Westerners look at Africa through Western eyes and that is why they do not realize what a big issue power is. This says Richard Vester of Vodacom Business, the South Africa-based provider and new Novell partner. Having electricity 24/7 is not a given and that is one of the main reasons why Africa understands cloud computing like no other place.
The partnership with Vodacom Business, provider of hosted services and solutions and majority owned by UK-based Vodafone Group Plc, was announced on the first day of BrainShare Amsterdam. Vodacom Business will integrate much of Novell’s Intelligent Workload Management technologies into its cloud hosting solutions. “Cloud computing allows data to be available and easily deployed, without the need for physical servers in rooms that require constant cooling,” explains Richard Vester. “In South Africa, you test your back-up generator once a week. In Africa – which is everywhere else but South Africa – your generator actually runs 3-4 times a week. Power is expensive and everyone is looking for ways to save it. Africa is looking for flexible, scalable pools of resources.”
One of Vodacom’s customers is an organizer of at least five very large annual cycling events. “South Africans are mad about cycling, so thousands of people turn up. The servers get hammered with data during these events, but the customer does not want to invest in a data centre. So we offer a cloud computing infrastructure, which reduces the number of actual servers required. In Africa it is not easy to find a building that has sufficient generators to cool an entire room. When everybody in South Africa started to build data centers, we said: let’s not. We ask what customers really need in way of computing power.”
Vodacom is now ready to deploy to Africa. “Virtualization is cheaper and it requires fewer people on the ground. This is good because there are not many qualified people around,” says Vester. Customers request virtual servers using Identity Manager and as soon as the request is approved, they are available.
Vester believes Africa and cloud computing are made for each other. “We understand exactly what it means. Power is costing people a fortune and cloud computing could potentially reduce power usage by a factor six.”