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Oracle builds up data centre momentum as it gears for SA

Oracle this month opened five new cloud regions as it builds out a data centre strategy that will include South Africa, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK



Oracle this month opened five new cloud regions, bringing data centres to Saudi Arabia (Jeddah), Australia (Melbourne), Japan (Osaka), Canada (Montreal), and The Netherlands (Amsterdam), as it builds out a data centre strategy that will include South Africa,

“All of them are open for business and available in the Oracle Cloud Console,” wrote Andrew Reichman, director of product management of Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, on the company blog. “We’ve already opened 10 cloud regions in the last six months, and with these five new regions, we now have Oracle’s Generation 2 Cloud available in 21 fully independent locations. We’re well on our way to having 36 cloud regions available by the end of 2020.”

One of these will be in South Africa. Larry Ellison, founder and chief technology officer of Oracle, revealed last September during Oracle Open World that South Africa would be part of a global offensive to take on Amazon Web Services (AWS) in the data centre market.

In his keynote address at the event, he said that Oracle would have more cloud regions than AWS in the following 12 months. He presented a map of the new regions, revealing that South Africa would be the first country in Africa with an Oracle data centre.

AWS announced in 2018 that it would open two data centres in Cape Town in t2020. This followed Microsoft opening Azure data centres in Johannesburg and Cape Town in March last year. The giant facilities are known as hyperscale data centres, and are central to businesses and governments operating more efficiently and cost-effectively via cloud computing.

Each “cloud region” represents investments of billions of rands in infrastructure.

Oracle had opened 16 cloud regions globally at the time, representing a massive expansion in the prior 12 months. The new regions were scheduled to include the USA, Brazil, UK, European Union, India, South Korea, Singapore, Israel, South Africa, Chile and the United Arab Emirates. 

Richard Smith, Oracle senior vice president for the UK, Europe, Middle East And Africa, said at the time: “South Africa is part of our global commitment to deliver a cloud region every 23 days and is part of our broader strategy for the African continent to give customers the world’s first fully autonomous cloud. South African customers have long been at the cutting edge in deploying our technology to deliver business transformation.”

Customers in this country will now have access to all Oracle Cloud Infrastructure services, including Oracle Autonomous Database and Oracle Fusion Applications.

Don Johnson, executive vice president of Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, said: “Enterprise customers worldwide require geographically distributed regions for true business continuity, disaster protection and regional compliance requirements. Multiple availability domains within a region will not address this issue.”

Johnson implied it was also likely to launch a second region in South Africa.

“Unlike other cloud providers, Oracle is committed to offer a second region for disaster recovery in every country where we launch Oracle Cloud Infrastructure services, a strategy that’s aligned with our customers’ needs.”

(Click here to read more about Oracle’s dual-region strategy)

Reichman confirmed in his blog this month that Oracle was adding second sites in countries to meet customer requirements.

“Customers have told us that to run critical systems of record in the cloud, they need to run workloads across fully independent cloud regions for disaster recovery purposes,” he wrote. “They also told us that those multiple sites must be in the same country to meet data residency requirements. To that end, four of these new regions — Osaka, Melbourne, Montreal, and Amsterdam — give customers a second site within the same country. The fifth region, in Saudi Arabia, will be joined by a second region later this year.

“Oracle plans to put a minimum of two regions in almost every country where we operate, and these new regions mark a big step toward this goal. The United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, South Korea, India, and Brazil will also have two regions live by the end of 2020.”

Reichman spelled out the impact of these rapid launches worldwide: 

Japan has some of the fastest adoption patterns of any new Oracle Cloud region, with all 10 of the largest Japanese companies today using Oracle Cloud. The availability of a second region in Osaka will make it easier for customers to deploy critical systems of record in an optimised cloud, without being forced to store their data outside of Japan.

“We’re similarly delighted to be serving the larger Middle East region, where 87% of the top companies by revenue use Oracle, and 54% already use Oracle Cloud. The first region, in Jeddah, will be followed this year by a second region in Saudi Arabia, as well as two regions in UAE. These represent Oracle’s first forays into the Gulf with Generation 2 Cloud regions, a part of the world that’s been underserved by other cloud vendors. Oracle is the first public cloud vendor with a region in Saudi Arabia.

“Melbourne represents the second Oracle Cloud region in Australia. We’ve seen significant adoption since the first region went live in Sydney in August 2019. Today, all 10 of the top enterprises in Australia use Oracle Cloud, and we expect that the in-country resiliency options provided by this second region will deepen our relationships with that business community. Given the long distances between Australia and its nearest neighbors, the second region there will solve for compliance and for the latency penalty associated with moving data long distances.

“Our Toronto region went live in January 2019. It represented the first region in the expansion plan that is taking Oracle Cloud worldwide. Since then, we’ve seen some of the biggest names in the Canadian economy take advantage of the performance, reliability, and scale of Oracle’s Generation 2 Cloud platform to power their systems of record. We’re delighted to give Canada a second region, which will let organisations build disaster-resilient solutions that meet the stringent data residency requirements in Canada. We’re excited to see added momentum from the second region that’s now available in Montreal.

“Finally, our Amsterdam region represents our fourth independent region in Europe. We currently offer two regions in the UK, one for commercial use and one for government, as well as a commercial region in Zurich. In the EU, we now have a pair of regions, in Amsterdam and Frankfurt, that give European companies and multinational organisations options to conduct business effectively while navigating the compliance hurdles that guide their day-to-day operations.”

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Alexa can now read all messages

For the first time, an Alexa skill is available that makes it possible to listen to any kind of message while driving



For the first time, Alexa users can now hear all their messages and email read aloud.

Amazon’s Alexa has become a household name. The world’s most popular virtual assistant is getting smarter every day and now, with Amazon Echo Auto, it’s in cars too. 

“In today’s highly connected world, messaging in the form of emails, texts, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and work channels like Slack, are integral to our daily routine,” says Barrie Arnold, chief revenue officer at ping. “However, distracted driving is responsible for more than 25% of car crashes and thousands of preventable fatalities every year.” 

ping, a specialist in voice technology founded by Arnold and South African Garin Toren, has developed a new Alexa skill as a companion to its patented smartphone app, that enables any message type to be read aloud. Designed for safety, productivity and convenience, “pingloud” is the first skill of its kind for keeping users connected when they need a hand or an extra pair of eyes.

“The ping Alexa skill is specifically designed to help drivers stay off their phones while giving them exactly what they want – access to their messages.” says Toren, ping CEO. 

Opening up Alexa to developers has resulted in an explosion of new skills available either for free or for a fee that unlocks premium services or features. These tools magnify the usefulness of Alexa devices beyond common tasks like asking for the weather, playing music or requesting help on a homework assignment. According to App Annie, the most downloaded apps in 2019 were Facebook Messenger, Facebook’s main app and WhatsApp, highlighting the importance of messaging. 

“The ping Android app is available worldwide from the Google Pay Store, reading all messages out loud in 30 languages,” says Toren. “The iOS version is in global beta testing with the US launch coming very soon.” 

Once you’ve signed up for ping, it takes a few seconds to link with Alexa, enabling all messages and emails to be read aloud by a smart speaker or Echo Auto device. Simply say, “Hey Alexa, open pingloud.” ping links an account to a voice profile so unauthorised users with access to the same Alexa cannot ask for the authorised user’s messages.

All major message types are supported, including Texts/SMS, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, Snapchat, Slack, Telegram, Twitter DM’s, Instagram, and all email types. Promotional and social emails are not read by default.

*For more information, visit

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Coronavirus to hit 5G



Global 5G smartphone shipments are expected to reach 199 million units in 2020, after disruption caused by the coronavirus scare put a cap on sales forecasts, according to the latest research from Strategy Analytics.

Ken Hyers, Director at Strategy Analytics, said, “Global 5G smartphone shipments will grow more than tenfold from 19 million units in 2019 to 199 million in 2020. The 5G segment will be the fastest-growing part of the worldwide smartphone industry this year. Consumers want faster 5G smartphones to surf richer content, such as video or games. We forecast 5G penetration to rise from 1 percent of all smartphones shipped globally in 2019 to 15 percent of total in 2020.”

Ville-Petteri Ukonaho, Associate Director at Strategy Analytics, added, “China, United States, South Korea, Japan and Germany are by far the largest 5G smartphone markets this year. The big-five countries together will make up 9 in 10 of all 5G smartphones sold worldwide in 2020. However, other important regions, like India and Indonesia, are lagging way behind and will not be offering mass-market 5G for at least another year or two.”

Neil Mawston, Executive Director at Strategy Analytics, added, “The global 5G smartphone industry is growing quickly, but the ongoing coronavirus scare and subsequent economic slowdown will put a cap on overall 5G demand this year. The COVID-19 outbreak is currently restricting smartphone production in Asia, disrupting supply chains, and deterring consumers from visiting retail stores to buy new 5G devices in some parts of China. The first half of 2020 will be much weaker than expected for the 5G industry, but we expect a strong bounce-back in the second half of the year if the coronavirus spread is brought under control.”

Exhibit 1: Global 5G Smartphone Shipments Forecast in 2020 1

Global Smartphone Shipments (Millions of Units)20192020
Rest of Market13941165
Global Smartphone Shipments (% of Total)20192020
Rest of Market99%85%

Source: Strategy Analytics

The full report, Global Handset Sales for 88 Countries & 19 Technologies, is published by the Strategy Analytics Emerging Device Technologies (EDT) service, details of which can be found here:

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