African businesses continue to place a premium on data processing

More enterprises across Sub-Saharan Africa are accessing new efficiencies through data processing to unlock value in both the private and public sectors.

This is the view of regional manager for SADC at NetApp, Morne Bekker, a little over a year after taking on the role.

“The data explosion is happening. The guys in East Africa for example are embracing cloud at a rapid rate. If you look at the mobile space on the African continent and the number of people with mobile phones versus traditional fixed line infrastructure you can see the opportunity for us to use data to accelerate digital transformation and address business imperatives.”

Bekker referred to the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project as a strong use case based on extensive data processing, and involving several African countries including Botswana, Namibia, Kenya and Zambia, that are collaborating towards the roll out and management of the radio telescope.

He says the SKA and the related volume of data processing to be done mirrors the work NetApp has done with the European Space Agency (ESA).

“NetApp used artificial intelligence and machine learning to constantly analyse and provide consistent insight across the datacentre (at the European Space Agency), so scientists could compute as well as monitor and manage hybrid IT multi-vendor storage and networking infrastructure. In fact, every day, ESA receives massive volumes of raw telemetry data from its spacecraft and observatories. That data must be stored and processed before it can be archived or shared. Scientists across Europe depend on ESA’s daily observations, so the reliability of that data is critical. NetApp’s availability means data is available to scientists around the clock. In (the) coming years and as additional missions are launched, NetApp will continue to provide solutions that are scalable so that scientists can really reach for the stars.”

MD for SKA in South Africa, Dr Rob Adam, has previously revealed that the MeerKAT radio telescope, which is a precursor to the SKA, has partnerships with global technology companies such as IBM to explore future technologies in Machine Learning and high performance cloud computing.

Artificial Intelligence, and specifically machine learning, plays a pivotal role in the analysis of the ‘library of the universe’, according to Bekker.

“Machine learning is a machine’s ability to automatically learn and improve its performance without being programmed. This is critically important for space exploration for a few reasons. Firstly, it is impossible for scientists around the world to articulate their knowledge under one umbrella as well as automate tasks and second machines are excellent learners. They can turn data into assets, allowing scientists to accelerate innovation and achieve superhuman performance, drive efficiencies, create insights and even aid new research developments.”