What the AWS Cape Town region means for South Africa

On 22 April 2020, Amazon Web Services (AWS) announced that its Cape Town region had gone live.

The region is named “Africa (Cape Town)” with the label “af-south-1”.

The launch of this local region is great news for South African developers and companies, which will be able to access low-latency links to AWS services and cloud-based applications.

MyBroadband spoke to Amazon Web Services about the applications enabled by the launch of the AWS Cape Town region.

POPIA compliance and low latency

“The addition of the AWS infrastructure region means developers, enterprises, start-ups, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), education institutions, and governments can leverage the benefits of AWS to start their own businesses, drive innovation, build new products and services, and help citizens across Africa,” AWS told MyBroadband.

“Additionally, AWS infrastructure regions meet the highest levels of security, compliance, and data protection.”

“With the new region, customers with data residency requirements, and those looking to comply with the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA), can 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.”

This will mitigate the data privacy headache faced by many companies as the effective enforcement of POPIA draws nearer, allowing them to store their data in the cloud using the AWS Cape Town region.

“An AWS Region is a physical geographic location where we have a cluster of data centres,” AWS told MyBroadband. “Each region is made up of isolated locations known as Availability Zones.”

“By offering the three Availability Zones in South Africa, connected through low-latency links, customers can easily deploy high availability applications with even lower latency to their customers and end-users and keep their data inside their AWS Region.”

Services offered

Amazon Web Service’s Region and Services Page details all the available services offered through each region around the world.

Below is a list of all the services offered by the AWS Cape Town region at the time of writing.

Cape Town Region – Services Offered
Amazon API Gateway Amazon Aurora Amazon CloudWatch
Amazon DynamoDB Amazon ECR Amazon ECS
Amazon ElastiCache Amazon EBS Amazon EC2
Amazon Elastic MapReduce Amazon Elasticsearch Service Amazon Glacier
Amazon Kinesis Video Streams Amazon Redshift Amazon Route 53 Private DNS
Amazon SNS Amazon SQS Amazon S3
Amazon SWF AWS Artifact AWS Auto Scaling
AWS Certificate Manager AWS CloudFormation AWS CloudTrail
AWS CodeDeploy AWS Config AWS Database Migration Service
AWS Direct Connect AWS Elastic Beanstalk AWS Key Management Service
AWS Marketplace AWS Personal Health Dashboard AWS Server Migration Service
AWS Shield Standard AWS Step Functions AWS Support
AWS Systems Manager AWS Trusted Advisor AWS X-Ray
Elastic Load Balancing VM Import/Export

Partner feedback

MyBroadband spoke to local technology companies which have partnered with AWS for the implementation of its Cape Town region about the potential applications of the expanded local presence.


Synthesis

Synthesis Head of Cloud Services Darryl Govender said that the launch of the AWS Cape Town region is a game-changer for local businesses.

“Customers now have access to world-class cloud services, that meet the highest levels of security, compliance, and data protection; right in their backyard,” Govender said.

“Amazon’s investment into South Africa began well back in 2004 when they opened a Development Center in Cape Town.”

“Elastic Cloud Compute (EC2) was one of the major accomplishments of the team and the launch of the AWS SA region hails its triumphant return; EC2 has come home,” he said.

Govender said by leveraging the power of the AWS cloud, customers can benefit from increased speed, heightened security, and superior reliability.

“The primary advantages are the reduced latency afforded by the close geographic proximity to a local AWS region, as well as customers now benefiting from the ability to confidently store data in South Africa while retaining full control over all data movement; thereby complying with the upcoming Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA).”

“The region currently provides access to the full suite of foundational IaaS solutions offered by AWS, as well as a range of Platform as a Service (PaaS) solutions for customers to further benefit from the vast expertise of AWS in managing and operating platforms at scale,” he said.

“Additionally, customers will have access to the AWS Marketplace which provides a digital catalogue with thousands of software listings from independent software vendors.”

He added that AWS will continue to grow these region service offerings over time, prioritizing new service launches in line with the demand from local customers.


Teraco

Teraco has been an AWS Direct Connect partner since 2017 and AWS Direct Connect is available in Teraco’s Johannesburg and Cape Town data centre facilities.

The AWS Direct Connect service allows clients to connect to their AWS resources in an AWS region directly.

Teraco CEO Jan Hnizdo said that the opening of AWS Africa in Cape Town is excellent news for South Africa and the whole continent.

“AWS Africa’s presence will significantly impact Africa based enterprise and local cloud service providers enabling them to deliver better end-user experiences,” Hnizdo said.

“Lower latency and increased resilience will enhance the overall user experience and AWS in Africa will assist in meeting clients’ data locality and sovereignty requirements.”

He added that Africa holds the promise of significant growth and immense user uptake over the next decade.

“Of significance is the role of the Internet and cloud deployments within Africa, and how improved access and affordability will assist sectors such as agriculture, communications, education, and financial services to prosper and grow,” he said.

Teraco logo


Dimension Data

Dimension Data cloud general manager Grant Morgan said that the launch of AWS’s Cape Town region will greatly boost the speed at which companies can launch products to market.

“The launch further ‘democratises’ IT so that even smaller businesses can benefit from advanced platform features and functionality, at an affordable cost,” Morgan said.

“Companies can experiment and innovate faster, rapidly testing proofs of concept and reducing their time to market.”

“The ability to deliver ultra-low latency through an African region optimises the performance of latency-sensitive applications for local businesses,” he added.

“This, together with high bandwidth direct connectivity to AWS, makes a compelling case for reducing the total cost of cloud ownership – reducing barriers and increasing accessibility. The net effect is that this encourages faster cloud adoption for more applications, by more customers.”

Morgan noted that not all AWS platform functionality will be available on day one, however.

“This is the same as Microsoft when Azure launched its local data centres. Only about a quarter of the full list of AWS platforms services are available right now in the Africa Region.”

“While those that are here are by far the majority of use cases, there will be some applications requiring special PaaS features only available overseas,” he said.

“With the AWS global backbone network, a hybrid between regions is then the answer.”

Dimension Data


Now read: How Dimension Data is dealing with massive spikes in traffic and remote working

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What the AWS Cape Town region means for South Africa