By Gerhard Fourie
ALTHOUGH Africa is a diverse market, and each country faces its own unique challenges, there is typically a common thread when it comes to IT. Aging IT infrastructure, a lack of skills and access to the latest technology are typical issues many businesses in Africa face, and with data increasing continually, storage and data management are an added challenge.
Software as a Service (SaaS) has the potential to revolutionise the market, making enterprise-grade technology available to businesses in Africa.
Access to technology has always been an issue across the African market, as all hardware has had to be imported, often with lengthy lead times that stifle agility. This is particularly true of storage, which has in the past required new hard drives to be added continually to deal with capacity challenges.
However, despite legacy issues like infrastructure and connectivity challenges, the African market still faces the same modern problem as every other business: the data explosion. Not only do businesses in the region have to contend with hardware availability challenges, there is also the very real problem of expanding the storage footprint.
With on-premises solutions, the bigger the storage capacity required, the larger the physical and green footprint needed to run the data centre, with storage space, power and cooling requirements potentially spiralling out of control.
As data volumes have grown, the need for data management has increased, to help businesses control storage footprints using technology like deduplication.
Storage lies at the heart of IT infrastructure, and managing data sprawl is critical. Given the importance of data, it is also essential to protect it with best practices like having an immutable copy of data to restore from. To do this, however, businesses need access to the latest enterprise-grade technology solutions, which is where SaaS comes into the picture.
Storage SaaS effectively removes the hardware problem from the equation – as well as the overhead costs like physical space, power and cooling – by moving storage into the cloud in one of the hyperscaler data centres in the region.
Customers simply have a service level agreement, and an operational expense rather than the need to lay out capital every time storage requirements increase. They are able to consume enterprise-grade storage and data management technology on demand for enhanced agility, flexibility and scalability.
This in turn improves performance, as solutions and additional capacity can be up and running in a matter of minutes, rather than months. Storage SaaS delivers ultimate performance at a fraction of the cost, improving data storage, processing and security.
Levelling the playing field
SaaS is a massive opportunity for Africa, as many businesses in the region are more open to new technology than their Western counterparts, which makes them more agile. This is an opportunity to leapfrog the digital divide and level the playing field with enterprise technology solutions now available to the small and mid-market organisation.
However, for SaaS to become a viable solution, there are certain issues that need to be addressed. These include infrastructure availability such as reliable power supply and connectivity, and from a data perspective, the need for local data centres.
It is also essential to have a technology partner who not only understands the challenges, but has the local presence and relationships to facilitate solutions. While SaaS removes the need for businesses to have particular skills in-house, it is still critical to have these skills in-country, and the right partner will deliver this, with vendor-managed solutions that deliver access to skills 24/7 regardless of physical location.
Storage SaaS gives customers the ability to enhance data management, improve compliance and access enterprise-grade solutions for greater competitive advantage. It is also the main go-to solution for mitigating ransomware and cyberthreats in today’s world, and the ideal solution for meeting aggressive service level agreements without the need to physically maintain a solution.
Although these challenges and benefits are consistent, Africa is not a homogenous market, and each country has its own specific requirements and regulations. The right strategy and partner is essential in handling unique challenges and realising the many benefits of SaaS.
Gerhard Fourie is Channel Lead at Commvault Africa