Software solutions key to business growth in Africa

20th October 2017 By: Robyn Wilkinson - Features Reporter

Software solutions  key to business  growth in Africa

MATTHEW LEE With the rise of cloud computing, big data and social networking, many businesses are shifting from being a 100% solely run proprietary environment

As Africa’s business sector grows in line with a rapidly expanding population, effective software services are becoming evermore vital to helping companies serve their markets on the continent and globally, says open source software solutions provider SUSE Africa regional manager Matthew Lee.

“With disruptive technologies driving companies to consider new business models that prioritise cost efficiencies and uptime, open source, in particular, is providing a solid platform for the innovation that is key for helping African businesses stay ahead of the curve.”

Lee explains that open source software has a source code that is made available with a general public licence, which guarantees users the freedom to run, study, share and modify the software as they see fit. While, previously, organisations considered only open source software when looking for ways to reduce development costs, Lee points out that many leading companies in Africa are now acknowledging enterprise open source as a beneficial technology platform for their operations.

“With the rise of cloud computing, Big Data and even social networking, open source is being recognised as the way of the future and many businesses are, thus, shifting from being a 100% solely run proprietary environment.”

Lee cites software defined storage as a key example of an area that has had exponential growth opportunities in Africa, as a result of this new trend. He explains that, with enterprise data growing at an average of 40% a year – driven by the growth and importance of data in the digital transformation – companies increasingly need flexible storage solutions that can handle the specific needs of their business data while managing costs.

As a result, there is a strong drive among customers to embrace solutions, such as public and private cloud, containers, platform as a service and software-defined storage solutions, which drive down the total cost of ownership and enable customers to achieve a greater return on investment.

In addition, the value proposition of open source software makes it increasingly attractive to African businesses, as it is not only cost effective but also allows for flexibility, delivers business agility and mitigates business risk. “This is, moreover, all based on collaboration from a community of like-minded individuals and truly reflective of the Africa spirit,” says Lee.

Open Market
Based on the growing uptake of open source software solutions in Africa, SUSE is seeing increased demand for its products and services, with Lee highlighting that software reliability, stability, flexibility, support and accountability are integral to enabling businesses to focus on their core offerings, innovate and drive market growth.

“Africa provides a key area of growth for global companies and this is evidenced by the many information and communication investments we have seen throughout the continent in the past two decades. In addition, as local businesses try to lower their operational costs and look for more ways to be leaner and more innovative, they are demanding more from their provider.”

In such a fast-paced, demanding and growing market, Lee stresses that there is constant change, adding that software providers, thus, need to secure clear business plans and trusted services partners. With these in place, an openness to exploring must, further, be cultivated.

“Africa is an emerging market that still has many technological challenges that need to be overcome. As we continue to fight to bridge the digital divide that is so evident on the continent, we are provided with ample opportunities for innovation as technology providers.”

He adds that a similar approach is required when companies plan to expand the role of software in their operations, emphasising the importance of finding a partner that takes the time to understand the business, its requirements and objectives in devising the roll-out of the most suitable solution.

Demonstrating its capabilities as such a partner, SUSE launched its Container as a Service (Caas) platform in January, providing a development and hosting platform for container-based applications and services that enables information technology operators and developers to manage and scale container-based applications and services to meet business goals faster.

“The solution is a valuable new component of SUSE’s growing software-defined infrastructure portfolio, which integrates open source technology to drive next-generation innovations that matter to customers.”

The SUSE Caas platform was developed specifically for organisations looking to improve business agility, as adopting a software-defined infrastructure approach helps to support the containerisation of their applications. Lee explains that most companies are either containerising existing applications directly or using a modern microservices architecture approach, highlighting that the SUSE platform supports both options, helping customers be more agile in their approach while reducing operating costs.

“This easy-to-use container infrastructure solution, thus, helps companies deploy next-generation, cloud native container-based applications and progressively migrate traditional and existing apps,” he concludes.