Microsoft just announced that it is bringing the cloud to datacenters in Africa. This is HUGE for Africans, but I don't think people realize it. In this short blog, I will try to explain why this is a big deal. Before I start, for those of you that still do not know what the cloud is, please check out my blog here.
Why is it important that Microsoft is expanding it’s datacenter regions to include Africa? Latency. Latency is the delay before a transfer of data begins following an instruction for its transfer. Currently, most developers in Africa host their website in datacenters located in the UK. Imagine trying to access a website that streams movies (think Netflix) hosted in UK datacenters from Africa. It can take a few seconds to load up the website and then a few more minutes to load up the entire movie you want to watch on the website. With Microsoft bringing datacenters to Africa, the website can be hosted in Africa and hence, you might not need to wait as long for your website to load up since the datacenter is not closer to you
Secondly, with datacenters in Africa, companies around the world can now begin to think about targeting Africans as customers. Companies, like Netflix for instance, might now think of targeting Africans because they can now more easily deploy their web application to the African datacenters. Netflix might even then think of bringing operations to Africa, which we can argue, will create jobs for Africans. Obviously, this inevitably calls for competition with African small businesses (Companies like IrokoTV and DSTV come to mind) that might not have the same resources that a company like Netflix does.
Moreover, as an African in Tech, one of the things I have noticed is that people generally do not think of Africa and the issues Africans face when they are creating products. However, as more companies start targeting Africa because of reduced latency and assuming they see a market in Africa, they will begin to actively take African issues into consideration as they build products. Companies will start coding for Africa. This is HUGE. This CAN put Africa on the Map.
As Africans, we can also more easily start creating solutions to our own problems using technology. The Microsoft cloud is more than just datacenters or virtual machines. Check out my introduction to Microsoft's Cloud here. We can now readily access recourses that the Microsoft's cloud offers like - Internet of Things (IOT) and Machine Learning - to build powerful products. Think of leveraging IOT to power the oil and gas industry in Nigeria. We can now easily monitor all our machinery and get useful insights to make products better. Think of farmers using IOT and Machine learning to produce more and better crops. #Winning
There are more advantages of having datacenters in Africa. Companies and the Government that need more data isolation especially for regulation reasons ( some companies cannot allow data to reside in other countries) can leverage the Microsoft Cloud. The Microsoft Cloud can also provide job opportunities for Africans because people need to work at these datacenters to secure an maintain them. Lastly, the Microsoft's brand in Africa becomes more respected. Africans tie the Microsoft brand name mostly to only Microsoft word or personal computers. Now, people can begin to see Microsoft as a Tech giant that it truly is.