Earlier today Huawei held an online media briefing to discuss the future of its cloud business moving forward. This follows the recent announcement that the company would be splitting the Huawei Cloud and AI business in two, as it restructured and placed an emphasis on software in particular when it comes to its cloud operations.
While that was from a global perspective, what does this mean for Huawei Cloud locally and for the rest of the African continent?
This is what Stone He (pictured in header image), the newly appointed president for Huawei Cloud Business in Southern Africa unpacked. The immediate focus for He and his team is on the company’s data centre infrastructure. To date, the company has four points of presence across Africa, with two in South Africa (Johannesburg), and one each in Nigeria and Kenya.
“We will look to increase the number of these data centre’s as the demand for cloud services grows. We currently serve customers in 12 countries, with plans to grow rapidly as the need arises. We have seen an increased move to the cloud due to the Covid-19 pandemic impact,” explained He.
The president added that a third location will be created in South Africa within the next couple of years, with either the Western Cape or KwaZulu-Natal being earmarked at this stage.
He was also quick to acknowledge the challenges that the past two years have presented for the company, both locally and abroad, with the US sanctions and COVID-19 pandemic serving up several hurdles.
To overcome these, however, Huawei is focused on its plan b strategy, which involves creating its own ecosystem. We have already seen aspects of this come to the fore, with its own mobile operating system tackling the issue of smartphones on the consumer side of things, and more recently in securing its supply chains to ensure that it can keep its global operations finely tuned.
“With better solutions for these issues, I believe the South African cloud market will be one of the biggest. The fourth industrial revolution featuring intelligent technology is coming. New technologies will be integrated into all aspects of our lives. It is our belief that cloud based technology will promote sustainable development and become a new driver for economic growth,” added He.
“Our success lies in the success of our partners. As we embark on the road to digital transformation in SA, our global experience allows us to leverage best practices to ensure their return of investment is achieved quickly and at an optimal rate,” he continued.
The president also stressed the importance that Huawei Cloud will play in keeping the company as a viable plater in the tech landscape. He specifically noted that “if Cloud fails, Huawei dies,” to emphasise the importance of this division. When we pressed him to unpack that rather salacious wording further, he explained that this was his opinion and not an official Huawei statement.
He added that Cloud will prove a key pillar for the company moving forward, and potentially means more to the business right now than 5G does. While that broadband technology is a significant step forward in enhanced connectivity, it will be the Huawei Cloud which will bring the company’s ecosystem to fruition.
The global tech firm has particularly lofty goals in mind for its cloud offering, which currently ranks fifth among the major players. In fact, He believes that being one of the top two vendors in the world is certainly achievable, but also tempered the statement by pointing out the many years of experience that the likes of AWS and Azure have in the space.
Overhauling them will prove difficult, but “dreams are important,” according to He.
As such, the company will be looking to strengthen its relationship with partners moving forward and engaging more customers as the Huawei Cloud ecosystem develops.
“We have recruited an experienced team including cloud architecture experts, cloud service experts, and cloud solution experts so that we can continue to serve South African customers and promote digital transformation in South Africa,” concluded He.