Image Credit: Server FramePool
Down on Mombasa Road in Nairobi, telecommunications firm MTN have opened a new data office with 70 racks aimed at supporting small to medium sized businesses (SMEs). Liquid Telecom’s East Africa Data Centre has 600 racks and IBM have recently opened a cognitive cloud computing service in conjunction with Sidian Bank. Kenya is now a growing hub for online supported services and cloud technology not just in East Africa, but across the continent as a whole.
How Cloud Technology Benefits Small Businesses
The new data centre in Nairobi is not MTN’s biggest, but the $13 million USD development will offer SMEs a wide range of services with 99.9% reliability and 72 hour coverage. Primarily aimed at over-the-top content companies, video on demand producers, online retailers, and service providers, the centre allows for cloud computing, cloud storage, virtualization, and convergence.
Cloud computing has grown hand-in-hand with the Internet over the last decade with the amount that can be done online growing at a faster and faster rate. This has also converged with a diversification in employment styles as more and more people across the globe work remotely from home offering services ranging from VAs to writers, designers, programmers, and editors.
SMEs in Kenya are going to benefit from the increasing number of cloud service providers and data centres because they allow companies to upscale their activities without having to invest in large office spaces and IT infrastructure. The best cloud computing services provide companies with near unlimited storage with encrypted two-stage security protection. This allows businesses to more easily share information across verticals, teams, and across the world to co-workers, investors, and operative in the field who are connected to the same service.
The Stumbling Blocks to Overcome
The one major element holding Africa back as a continent when it comes to cloud technology services for small to medium sized businesses is Internet provision. Simply put, the current infrastructure is not sufficiently developed to allow for online-based services. In order to function sufficiently, cloud services require reliable internet connections for their customers and clients. If a company is going to forego its own servers and supercomputers to back data up on, then they need to be able trust the company to provide consistent high quality services. This does mean national governments need to work with service providers, local communities, and SMEs to ensure a wider coverage. If this fails, SMEs in large urban areas such Nairobi and Mombasa will gain an advantage over more remote areas.