Amazon To Build New Data Centers In South Africa, First Infrastructure Region In Africa

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Written by Peter Pedroncelli

 

U.S. e-commerce giant Amazon has announced plans to construct new data centers in South Africa, establishing the company’s first infrastructure region in Africa.

The data centers will be launched in the country at the start of 2020, speeding up cloud services and reducing costs for Amazon’s local corporate clients, according to BusinessInsider.

The data centers, which are essentially large, highly-secure server and data-hardware warehouses, will be used to store large amounts of data while enabling African businesses to leverage advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, internet of things and mobile services to empower their own innovation.

Set to be constructed in Cape Town, the data centers will consist of three “availability zones”, according to Businesstech.

Amazon have come under fire in the U.S. for replacing many jobs with automated solutions, such as in their 3,000 AmazonGo locations that will be cashierless.

While much of infrastructure in the centers will be automated, in line with Amazon’s typical data center strategy, jobs will likely be created for those running the complex operation and maintaining important elements such as security.

Amazon Web Services, the cloud division of Amazon, already built data servers in Cape Town and Johannesburg earlier this year, following the launch of its AWS Direct Connect service in the two major cities at the end of 2017, according to Techcentral.

This latest development will make South Africa Amazon’s first infrastructure region in Africa.

Cloud computing technology allows for storing and accessing of data and software over the internet rather than a particular computer hard drive, with applications for Africans spanning across entrepreneurship, education, government and various other fields.

South African companies will be able to benefit from the Direct Connect service by establishing a dedicated network connection to Amazon Web Services. The infrastructure points of presence in Cape Town and Johannesburg, enable the Amazon CloudFront, Amazon Route 53, AWS Shield, and AWS WAF services throughout the continent.

data centers
Amazon is building data centers in South Africa. Photo – AP – Michel Spingler

The planned data centers will ensure that Amazon’s cloud computing services comply with South Africa’s new legislation in that arena, known as the Protection of Personal Information Act, according to TheCitizen.

The act aims to ensure that data is not moved out of the country without an individual’s consent.

Amazon has enjoyed a presence in South Africa since 2004, when the e-commerce giant opened its first development center in Cape Town, according to ITWeb.

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This is where the company developed the early version of Amazon Web Services, and in 2015, they opened an office in Johannesburg.

Microsoft constructing cloud data centers

In May last year, U.S. software giant Microsoft announced plans to open two new cloud data centers in South Africa, in order to provide Microsoft Cloud services for the African market from infrastructure based on the continent, according to CNBCAfrica.

These hyperscale data centers are being built in Cape Town and Johannesburg, and they are set to be completed in the coming months. They represented a strategic advantage for Microsoft, as they would be the only top-tier cloud provider with a data center presence in Africa.

This is now going to change, with Amazon announcing their own data center plans, though theirs will only come online in 2020.

Microsoft is a major competitor for Amazon Web Services, and the company have understood the need to follow in their footsteps if they are to remain competitive in the African context.

With availability of cloud services expected in 2018, the services that will be delivered via the two South African data centers will include Microsoft Azure, Office 365, and Dynamics 365, offering enterprise-grade reliability, performance and data residency.