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AWS data centres go live in SA

Amazon Web Services data centres went live in Cape Town today, and will play a major role during the COVID-19 crisis, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

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Amazon Web Services (AWS) this morning switched on its new Cape Town data centres this morning, marking the formal opening of its AWS Africa (Cape Town) Region.

Users who administrate their AWS platforms, regardless of where they are in the world, can now leverage the Cape Town region as a place to store data and run applications.

The timing during a global lockdown as a result of the COVID-19 crisis is no coincidence, says Amazon vice president and chief technology officer Werner Vogels, a regular visitor to this country.

“As COVID-19 has disrupted life as we know it, I have been inspired by the stories of organisations around the world using AWS in very important ways to help combat the virus and its impact,” he says. “Whether it is supporting the medical relief effort, advancing scientific research, spinning up remote learning programs, or standing-up remote working platforms, we have seen how providing access to scalable, dependable, and highly secure computing power is vital to keep organisations moving forward. This is why, today, we are announcing the AWS Africa (Cape Town) Region is now open.”

AWS now has data regions in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, Middle East, China, and Asia Pacific, and now spans 73 Availability Zones within 23 geographic regions around the world. It has also announced plans for 12 more Availability Zones across four more AWS Regions in Indonesia, Italy, Japan, and Spain.

The direct benefit of having a data centre on South African soil is a significant speed increase for South Africans who are accessing and processing data from AWS. Previously, AWS customers relied on solutions in Europe, the Middle East, or the United States, which posed a huge problem when undersea connectivity cables were severed repeatedly this year. It also means that developers, startups, enterprises, government, educational institutions, and non-profit organisations can run applications and serve end-users in Africa with lower latency. They can also more effectively leverage advanced AWS technologies to underpin their own innovations.

“An AWS Region in Africa will enable businesses and government organisations, including those focused on fighting the effects of COVID-19, to build cloud applications and store their data locally, while reaching end users across Africa with even lower latency,” says Vogels. “AWS Regions are composed of Availability Zones, each of which comprise one or more data centres and are located in separate and distinct geographic locations with enough distance to significantly reduce the risk of a single event impacting business continuity, yet near enough to provide low latency for high availability applications.

“Each Availability Zone has independent power, cooling, and physical security and is connected via redundant, ultra-low-latency networking. AWS customers focused on high availability can design their applications to run in multiple Availability Zones to achieve even greater fault-tolerance. AWS infrastructure regions meet the highest levels of security, compliance, and data protection. Local customers with data residency requirements, and those looking to comply with the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA), can also now store their content in South Africa with the assurance that they retain complete ownership of their data and it will not move unless they choose to move it.”

Read more on the next page about AWS’s long history in South Africa, and the role of its customers during the COVID-19 crisis.

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