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Opportunity opens up as Africa gets to grip with SaaS, cyber threats

By , Portals editor
Africa , South Africa , 30 Jun 2021

Data services and enterprise software company Commvault will intensify its focus on expansion into Africa amid an increase in the migration of infrastructure to the cloud, driven by fast-tracked digital transformation schedules and uptake of cloud-centric applications and solutions.

The company has operated in South Africa since 2006 and has primarily catered to this market, although also providing services to the rest of the continent on an ad-hoc basis.

But the pandemic has forced a rethink on infrastructure management strategies, particularly in terms of cloud adoption. 

Kate Mollett, Regional Director at Commvault Africa.
Kate Mollett, Regional Director at Commvault Africa.

Kate Mollett, Regional Director for Commvault Africa, said while the company has until now put its expansion plans on hold, and concentrated mainly on the SADC region, the time has arrived to push out more aggressively to other markets.

Part of the reason is because of the growing significance of trends including multi-cloud strategies, containerisation, security and the increasing influence of SaaS.

“It’s not just the trends but also natural organic growth. We have decided to be quite intentional about what we do in Africa and expanding into some of the key hubs. This has coincided quite well with some of the key trends. The most important is that infrastructure is moving to the cloud and certain things have catapulted to this such as the pandemic. Organisations needed to rapidly work from home, digitise their environment, support and manage environments remotely. This has accelerated the move to cloud-centric applications and infrastructure. IDC predicts that by 2021 80% of all organisations will have accelerated their move to cloud-centric. This was at 40% last year.”

Mollett adds that nine out of ten organisations have a multi-cloud strategy. Somewhere within their overall IT and business roadmap there is a need for hybrid. “We map this back to Commvault’s move into Africa.”

“Companies were not able to adequately work from home and in some cases, organisations would come to the office, they had land lines, everything was very centralised around a physical facility, when the pandemic hit, many organisations on the continents had to reconsider how to support their workforces and customers. We are seeing a lot of subscription to SaaS too. It’s also not just an IT conversation but rather a boardroom conversation.”

Mauritius well prepared

Commvault considers the Indian Ocean islands as part of the Africa region and explains that Mauritius is most well prepared for digitisation.

Mollett says the island nation is recognised as number one on the continent in terms of ease of business. “We are seeing this in some of the partner, distribution and end user recruitment,” she adds.

Gerhard Fourie, Channel Lead at Commvault Africa
Gerhard Fourie, Channel Lead at Commvault Africa

Gerhard Fourie, Channel Lead at Commvault Africa, details how the company approaches potential partners and engages with regions. “We look at ease of doing business, the cost of doing business, how countries relate to security, their access to platforms and reliability of data as well as ease of access that these countries provide. In Mauritius they are far down the track, even in comparison to South Africa. Other countries doing well include Kenya, they have successfully been able to carry on business with slight disruption around COVID. Nigeria, Namibia and Botswana have done a lot of work in the last eight months in terms of doing business without being in the office. Our strategy is to focus our key strengths into areas that are ready for technology such as ours. It has been a process to identify the guys that are ready to scale and (are) skilled … companies that have the maturity to actually help customers on this journey.”

Fourie agrees that COVID-19 has pushed many customers to start looking at multi-cloud strategies and how to move their key critical applications into a cloud format without the need to have their own datacentre.

“We have seen some customers that can’t even go into their datacentre due to COVID-19, so it is important for these environments to be managed remotely. This is where the maturity of the partners is relevant – they must be able to help customers and have the skillset to help these customers migrate into these cloud environments. They need to ensure reliability of data. Our issue is reliability of electricity. It is our duty to help our customers and partners understand that it is not just the typical IT challenges but the additional layers.”

There are challenges and according to Mollett issues like ransomware and skills development continue to impact the market.

“The last three months of last year, ransomware was up by 30%. They are increasing in sophistication. We are seeing as-a-service, Ransomware as a service is available on the dark web, allowing threat factors to buy into ransomware as a scheme. It is becoming incredibly sophisticated. The relevance and importance of a Commvault conversation becomes more apparent. Multi-cloud is on the increase, Ransomware and driving data management as a boardroom discussion, another trend we are experiencing closer to home and Ghana, Nigeria, is around SaaS, we may not be able to deliver in these countries just yet but the level of interest is huge.”

Mollett adds that containerisation is another key trend going forward.

“Containers are being used increasingly in production environments. There is an element of maturity that goes hand in hand with this. Kubernetes are being built of more modern stacks, we are seeing this in a more SA context. Banks have the depth of skill and maturity to rapidly and adopt the benefits that containerisation can present to an organisation. This is not just globally but also from a SA perspective. This highlights the skills gaps, whether you are building container type applications, managing data and even ransomware, when you find the skills shortage is also increasing. You look towards vendors that build in automation and data insights, automating a lot of the tasks that would have been done manually. If we map to what trends we are seeing and how we can respond to this, it becomes an important conversation to customers. End users can consume either on premise, through the cloud or through a managed service through a partner.”

Fourie adds that in terms of SaaS, more customers are looking at moving away from having on-prem kit but also investing in something that is readily available and built on best practices around security, data management etc.

“They don’t need to invest themselves in the skills. SaaS is where you keep control of your data but we manage it for you.”

The company remains relevant and of value to any organisation that has data that needs to be protect, data that needs to be accessed from anywhere and protected.

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