BY VICTOR ADAR With stronger information, privacy and data protection laws coming into effect in Kenya and other parts of the continent, businesses operating in Africa must think again about where and with which providers they host their cloud enterprise data and applications. A time when data sovereignty is growing in importance as players adopt cloud services to take advantage of the flexibility and cost-savings they offer, it is better to pick a provider that has data privacy and security measures in place to safeguard the information. Analysts say that providers have a huge impact so much that companies need to ask where their data will be stored and ensure that things don’t fail when it is already a little too late. SEACOM Global Head of Product, Robert Marston, says that with these laws in place, cloud adoption in Africa will thrive. “We think it is often wise to use cloud services located within the same country where the customers are.” Many organisations expanding into new African countries, Mr Marston says, rely on the cloud to get their systems up-and-running quickly in the absence of established infrastructure. However, before they rush to use offshore cloud providers, the issues of latencies associated with hosting offshore ought to be evaluated inside and out. And since the risks are the same the world over, that caution includes local companies in Kenya that are moving to the cloud. Getting ahead in the cloud computing calls for platforms that will improve access, address the issues surrounding the location of confidential and sensitive data. To take care of this, for example, SEACOM has deployed cloud infrastructure in Kenya and South Africa. The proximity of these platforms to customers in Africa, generally, is now addressing the service latency problem associated with cloud services delivered from Europe, Asia and America. A significant acceleration will soon set in as both public and private organisations move in to enjoy the fruits of data protection. The shift to the new virtual technology rests well with Kenya whose personal data protection laws are very stringent and largely in line with those of the European Union, which are hailed as some of the best in the world. Organisations no longer have to purchase hardware and software, and licences too will be a thing of the past. Moreover, players will only pay for what they use, thereby cutting operational costs big time. With the rapid expansion of broadband connectivity in Africa, the adoption of cloud services across the continent is set to mirror that of developed countries. There is so much potential in the virtual space that International Data Corporation in a recent report estimates that only 8% of the revenues of the top 100 software companies come from Software as a Service (SaaS) models, and seven of ten biggest draw less than 5% of their software revenue from SaaS, an indication that moving from boxed software to cloud-based applications present a big challenge. Saas is basically a software licensing and delivery model in which software is licensed on a subscription basis, and is centrally hosted. Most likely, companies will reap big if, and only if, they are cushioned by data privacy rules. And when the right product development is in the details then the future is bright as there will be no worry with regards to risks. “This will promote the cross-border flow of information, which will help to drive the cloud market in Kenya,” says Marston. SEACOM has been admitted to the select group of (COSN) Microsoft cloud OS Network providers, a worldwide group of select service providers that partner closely with Microsoft to offer customers hybrid cloud and Azure-enabled solutions. Uniquely combining expertise in Microsoft technology, customer requirements, and geographic specialization, COSN members deliver the Microsoft Cloud Platform customized to meet specific needs. As a COSN partner Microsoft works closely with SEACOM to technically validate services and enable best-practice solutions based on Windows Azure Pack for hybrid cloud deployments including connections to Microsoft Azure global cloud. The combination of SEACOM and Microsoft’s cloud expertise minimizes risk and simplifies infrastructure upgrades, delivering a reliable solution that is flexible and easy to maintain.