Angani Seeks To Debug The Myth That World-Class Local Cloud Services Are Not Possible In Kenya
I am something of a veteran when it comes to using cloud infrastructure on both local (read Kenyan-based) and international platforms. This runs the whole gamut of website hosting services, file storage, corporate email, etc etc. I have been doing this ‘stuff’ for over 15 years, since the very early days of the Internet in Kenya and the rest of East Africa. The truth be said for the most part the local cloud has been measured and found lacking when compared to the likes of Amazon Web Services (AWS), GoDaddy, MediaTemple, DropBox, RackSpace and many other cloud service providers.
One just has to read how frequently locally hosted websites are hacked to get a sense of just how bad the situation is. More often than not, local cloud infrastructure is just simply not up to the task for all sorts of reasons – be it server ports that are left open, outdated server software, slow bandwidth, poor security policies, etc etc. On the other hand, the likes of Safaricom and Liquid Telecom have set-up good local cloud infrastructure but quite often in my experience these services tend to be either over-priced or under-featured by comparison to International cloud providers.
Its for this very reason that the majority of websites and web-based apps are hosted outside Kenya and not locally. This is something of a conundrum since Kenya has over 14 million Internet users (the last time I checked?) and increasingly what should be ‘local digital content’ for all intents and purposes is actually hosted outside Kenya. Indeed, I heard it on good authority that when Google installed some cache servers in Kenya (which serve to keep frequently requested content from their International services ‘local’) they saw a drop of around 40% in their utilisation of International bandwidth. Therefore, without a doubt, there is clearly a growing need for world-class local cloud infrastructure.
Enter Angani. Angani is in my opinion trying to do the impossible, or perhaps, the improbable, in terms of offering world-class ‘local’ cloud infrastructure in Kenya. I know, I must sound like a skeptic but when you have been doing these ‘Internet things’ for as long as I have in Kenya you kind of roll your eyes whenever someone attempts to offer such services locally and effectively tries to compete with behemoths like Google, Microsoft, etc etc. The list goes on and on.
However, I am inclined to do a second take on Angani for several reasons. The first is the fledgling Angani’s founding team (its ALWAYS the founding team!) that makes me think these guys could be onto something. I have personally known both Riyaz Bachani (COO) and Phares Kariuki (CEO) for a good number of years. These two co-founders are what I would call certifiable ‘geeks’. I say this in admiration since they are the kind of guys who know their trade when it comes to making technology ‘hum’. I had the opportunity to have coffee with them recently and really probed them on why they are trying to do the hitherto ‘impossible’. In a nutshell, this is what I managed to glean from them:
- Servers -They have acquired serious servers that can deliver world-class performance that is ‘on par’ with the best globally.
- Bandwidth – They are connected to the best and fastest bandwidth in Kenya.
- Redundancy – At the core, their set-up has been designed to be super redundant. They also have massive security measures in place.
- Pricing – Their pricing is actually fair, if not super competitive. Its good value for money from what I can tell. Take a look here. Its also really easy to sign-up and pay for service either on the basis of compute time or a fixed cost monthly package.
- Partnerships – They plan to work with resellers for their services as well as directly with enterprises of all sizes. This means that they will serve everyone if required and be a collaborator. They want to ‘grow’ the local cloud ‘pie’. This also means they can scale with everyone ‘on-board’.
- Team – They have a small but committed team of ‘uber’ geeks like themselves. Their capacity to do this is actually solid.
- Funding – They have managed to secure ample funding to keep their servers ticking as long as it takes to acquire customers.
Ultimately, the market will determine if Angani will have a real chance of success in Kenya. They are also not alone in this space since others like Kili are also making a run at the same opportunity for world-class local cloud services. So, the good news is that hopefully, in time, we will be able to transition to using cost-effective and high quality local cloud services in Kenya once and for all and Angani could be just the ticket. Incidentally, this blog will be moving to the Angani cloud in the very near future 🙂