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T-Systems SA's Microsoft Azure partnership to affect plans with Huawei

T-Systems SA's Microsoft Azure partnership to affect plans with Huawei

T-Systems South Africa's announcement of a partnership with Microsoft to offer Azure services to enterprise customers across Sub-Saharan Africa will affect the plans it announced in July to launch an Openstack Public Cloud platform, along with Huawei, in the region called Open Telekom Cloud (OTC).

T-Systems and Huawei were planning to start taking customers onto OTC in Q4 2017. The new agreement with Microsoft, currently underway, will see T-Systems provide managed services on top of Microsoft's hosting services from data centres located in Johannesburg and Cape Town.

Gert Schoonbee, Managing Director at T-Systems South Africa says plans to roll out pay-as-you-go cloud services to enterprises with Huawei through OTC will now fall away.

"T-Systems is not a product company and therefore the partnerships with Huawei remain important for us even from an industry specialisation perspective where they manage to specialise in certain industries. As we verticalise our approach of going to market, we also include Huawei in those initiatives. The OTC partnership with Huawei was initiated in Germany and worked around a revenue share model where Huawei gave the products and T-Systems gave the management of the cloud environment to leverage the strength of both organisations. With us not continuing with OTC in South Africa, we will not continue with that part of the partnership - but for the rest of the partnership with Huawei, they get stronger every day. The OTC journey has created an opportunity to get closer to each other and we will take care not to neglect that relationship."

Schoonbee says the partnership with Microsoft Azure will initially only benefit South Africa, although plans are in place to achieve a continent-wide reach.

"In Africa Azure has only announced its offering for South Africa so we will start with that as our initial focus. We have customers on our private cloud in other parts of Africa hosted currently in our data centres in South Africa, but as the relationship matures we will explore with Microsoft to see how we can roll it out because other countries in West or East Africa may have similar desires to the ones that we have from a data sovereignty perspective to say they expect us to host our public cloud within their borders. That will be a Microsoft decision and not a T-Systems decision, but we are working closely together to see how we can install and grow these opportunities."

T-Systems is currently working on certifying its internal staff to align them with Azure according to Schoonbee.

He adds that training and upskilling will take place before Microsoft and T-Systems implement a go-to-market plan over the next few months.

"At this point we are focused firmly on establishing Azure as our primary hyperscale cloud partner. A main driver for our original OTC decision was the association with a hyperscale cloud hosted in South Africa. Microsoft Azure will address this need. Our plan to be the cloud broker of choice in South Africa means that we will take the steps necessary to provide our customers with the best possible choices and solutions. To this end, we shall continue to innovate and drive the digital transformation of South Africa, and if this includes scope for OTC alongside Azure in the future, we shall certainly not dismiss it."

Rajan Padayachee, Head of Solutions, Projects and Portfolio at T-Systems South Africa says T-Systems' is already a global data trustee for Microsoft which means the partnership plays easily into both T-Systems and Microsoft's alliance strategy.

"Shortly after we announced our intention to bring our Open Telekom Cloud (OTC) to South Africa, Microsoft announced that they will be offering Azure from local data centres in South Africa. Considering our strong partnership with them, coupled with the substantial investments that many of our customers have already made in Microsoft services, T-Systems made the decision to invest in Microsoft's local Azure cloud, with the intention to maximise our customers' investments and build on our partnership with Microsoft."

Zoaib Hoosen, Managing Director of Microsoft South Africa hailed the T-Systems South Africa investment in a press statement indicating that Microsoft views the agreement as a reaffirmation of its global and local partnership.

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