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Safaricom launches Africa's largest native cloud

Safaricom has launched a range of cloud services which will include data centre services including hosting, storage and backup services. The launch was done at a Wednesday evening function at Nairobi's Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC) and attended by more than 600 guests. Safaricom Cloud is a partnership that rings together Safaricom, Seven Seas Technologies, EMC and Cisco, each bringing their expertise in different sectors into the partnership. Notably in attendance was Kenya's Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Communications, Dr Bitange Ndemo.

Speaking during the launch, Safaricom Chief Executive Officer, Bob Collymore said "Safaricom has invested KSh 2 Billion to launch the cloud and would be investing a further KSh 1.5 Billion in the next two years." The CEO also dispelled information published in some sections of the media that the firm would be purchasing Seven Seas Technologies, saying that theirs was just a partnership.

Collymore also described Safaricom Cloud as the "largest native cloud deployment in Africa."

Cloud services deliver various services through an Internet connection eliminating the need for businesses to invest in costly IT equipment for the same services. The services are payable in monthly subscriptions. Cloud services usually result in more reliability and security as cloud providers are usually in a position to hire expertise that other firms would find expensive.

EMC announced that their security subsidiary, RSA , would be providing security services for the cloud.

Data Centre services will be offered on an X86 based platform where clients will be in a position to lease virtual machines, either shared or dedicated. These are commonly used for hosting web applications including mail servers, web servers and other hosted office applications.

Storage services will feature a Storage Area Network (SNA) that will be available in 20 Gigabyte units. These are targeted at enterprises who have large storage needs such as animation houses. Ndemo narrated of a visit to Homeboyz Studios a few years ago where he found that the animators were storing content in a server in London which was connected on a slow 500 Kilo bit per second link. The arrival of undersea fibre made faster Internet affordable. The Safaricom Cloud means that those who need storage can opt for cheaper local links rather than the more costly over seas links.

Backup services are similar to storage services, with the slight difference that they are scheduled back up of data stored within an enterprise. The backup schedule will be flexible. Other options include data encryption.

Ndemo announced that the government would be procuring services on Safaricom's Cloud as it would soon be needing more capacity than what the government's data centre offers.

Collymore announced that the first 30 customers to sign up for the cloud services would be getting one month for free.


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