Oracle to bring war on Amazon to SA shores

22 September 2019 - 00:07 By ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

SA could be part of a global offensive to take on Amazon Web Services (AWS) in the data centre market. That's according to Larry Ellison, founder of database software giant Oracle. Speaking at the annual Oracle OpenWorld conference in San Francisco this week, Ellison said Oracle would have more cloud regions than AWS in the next 12 months. He presented a map of the new regions, revealing that SA would be the first country in Africa with an Oracle data centre.AWS announced in October last year that it would open two data centres in Cape Town in the first quarter of 2020. This follows Microsoft opening Azure data centres in Johannesburg and Cape Town in March this year. The giant facilities, known as hyperscale data centres, are central to businesses and governments operating more efficiently and cost-effectively via cloud computing.Each "cloud region" represents investments of billions of rands in infrastructure.The news comes on the heels of the June unveiling of a cloud inter-operability partnership between Microsoft and Oracle, in effect creating an alliance between the largest challengers to the dominance of AWS in cloud computing. Ellison made no bones in his keynote of his enmity towards the latter."We're at least 25 times more reliable than Amazon," he quipped. "That's a very conservative number."In a massive expansion, the company has opened 12 cloud regions in the past year and now has 16 globally - 11 commercial and five dedicated to government services. It will launch 20 new regions by the end of 2020, including new countries and dual, geographically separated regions in existing territories. Oracle expects to open an average of one region every 23 days over the next 15 months. It will open further regions for use by the governments of the UK and Israel, and expand the road map for its interconnect with Microsoft Azure.Ellison also announced updates to its autonomous database technology, and took much delight in reminding his audience of the nature of the human error behind the recent Capital One breach, in which more than 100-million of the bank's customers had their financial information compromised. The breach came about as a result of the misconfiguration of an AWS server by a software engineer."In Oracle Cloud your system automatically configures itself; it automatically backs itself up," he said. "Human beings aren't involved, so there can be no human error."Speaking on the sidelines of the event, Richard Smith, Oracle senior vice-president for the UK, Europe, Middle East and Africa, told Business Times: "SA is part of our global commitment to deliver a cloud region every 23 days and is part of our broader strategy for the African continent to give customers the world's first fully autonomous cloud."South African customers have long been at the cutting edge in deploying our technology to deliver business transformation."Customers in this country will now have access to all Oracle Cloud Infrastructure services, including the Oracle autonomous database and Oracle Fusion applications. Don Johnson, executive vice-president of Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, said: "Enterprise customers worldwide require geographically distributed regions for true business continuity, disaster protection and regional compliance requirements. Multiple availability domains within a region will not address this issue."Johnson implied Oracle was also likely to launch a second region in SA. "Unlike other cloud providers, Oracle is committed to offer a second region for disaster recovery in every country where we launch Oracle Cloud Infrastructure services."Roy Illsley, analyst for infrastructure solutions at Ovum, said Oracle's aggressive global data centre expansion plan was helping in its growth. The company last week announced that, of total revenue for the past quarter of $9.2bn (R135bn), $6.8bn came from cloud services and licence support revenues. This compares to AWS generating $8.38bn of Amazon's $63.4bn revenue for its last reported quarter.While competition for cloud services is heating up in SA, it is a rapidly growing market where market share is less important than migrating existing customers to the cloud. According to Sven Blom, head of sales for SA's largest independent data centre provider Teraco, the company has seen "massive uptake from cloud within the data centre"."This is very positive and will further bolster growth from a hybrid and multi-cloud point of view. Oracle's announcement, in our view, was inevitable with mounting pressure from clients to have access to cloud services from leading brands. It is also very good to see Africa being recognised as a region with immense potential."Smith, who visited SA this month for the opening of Oracle's new regional head office in Johannesburg, revealed the company already has a 250-strong developer team based in Cape Town. Along with AWS employing several thousand developers in the Mother City, this reinforces the city's positioning as the technology hub of Africa."From a business standpoint, we have a very robust business in SA, and it is going from strength to strength. We are working hard on employing a lot more local talent." Lillian Barnard, MD of Microsoft SA, said the increased presence of local cloud technology meant more opportunity for economic growth and innovation."As the first global provider to launch two cloud data centres on the continent, our goal was to bring the technology closer to African businesses and organisations," she told Business Times. "These investments have enhanced our ability to support our customers' business innovation and digital transformation. "Our local data centre locations offer enterprise-grade reliability and performance combined with data residency in SA. This provides our customers with trusted cloud services that help them meet local compliance and policy requirements. Replication of data in multiple data centres across SA gives customers reliable protection for business continuity in both pure and hybrid scenarios."She pointed out that the adoption of cloud technology was fast gaining momentum among South African enterprises, with organisations such as Nedbank, Exxaro and Standard Bank migrating components of their IT infrastructure into the cloud with great success.

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