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The role of development platforms in creating East Africa’s next-gen applications

Red Hat-min

By Christopher Saul, Territory Sales Lead for East Africa at Red Hat

Demand for cloud infrastructure and services across East Africa is prompting vendors to significantly invest in the region. Recently, it was announced Oracle will open a public cloud region in Nairobi, Kenya, its second on the continent after the Oracle Cloud Johannesburg Region, which launched in 2022. This reflects the upward trend of cloud services across the entire MEA region, resulting in a competitive infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) market where enterprises have the opportunity to migrate and meet all their enterprise IT needs.

Cloud adoption sets the stage for Kenya and surrounding markets to double down on their software and application development efforts. The cloud is an enabling force, one that lets organisations focus on building and scaling their applications, rather than having to worry about the infrastructure that underpins them. But that’s just the first ingredient for success. The second is the requisite platforms that let organisations build cloud-native applications efficiently and across multiple environments. And, if enterprises want to capitalise on the trend of artificial intelligence (AI), they need the platforms that open the door and enable them.

Cloud-driven, cloud-first

A recent McKinsey survey of major African businesses reveals that among respondents, about 45% of their workloads are in the public cloud. Almost a fifth of businesses have all their workloads in some sort of cloud environment, with cloud expenditure accounting for roughly 38% of total IT expenditure.

These findings speak to the cloud mindset taking root across Africa, which is a very good thing. Thinking “cloud-first” means organisations and products can remain competitive in local and international markets, as well as scale their infrastructure based on their IT needs. But, perhaps most importantly, it enables organisations to build cloud-native apps, independent and modular services that deliver consistent development and management experiences across public, private, and hybrid clouds.

Going cloud-native is a move towards standardisation, ensuring a consistent experience while maintaining high levels of agility. Not to mention increasing the speed at which enterprises can develop applications and take them to market. As East Africa’s economy continues to go digital, software-defined business becomes the norm and enterprises need to be able to update and enhance products as quickly, efficiently, and cost-effectively as possible.

It all comes down to the platform

The biggest value organisations unlock with an application development and delivery platform is that everything you need for those two processes is included in the package. 

Whether it’s for a single person or a whole team of developers, platforms give organisations the tools and support they need to build, test, and deploy applications regardless of the environment they are working in. This level of centralisation allows developers to standardise with a common set of technologies, have a single support structure, and work easier thanks to security capabilities throughout the entire development pipeline.

On top of that, app development platforms enable productivity. So many projects do not meet expectations or fully actualise due to programmers and developers not having the prerequisite resources and support they need. Platforms can offer additional benefits such as consistent infrastructure software foundation, host operating system or orchestration service, and app monitoring and analysis capabilities.

Though platforms can be used as a public cloud service, organisations also have the choice of self-managed software for increased granular control, increasing their self-reliance and independence from service providers.

The AI revolution

No discussion surrounding software development would be complete without mentioning AI. As far as enterprises are concerned, the extent to which they can leverage AI and ML models is basically determined by the capabilities of their infrastructure and platforms. And this is important to consider as ML-powered applications can enhance everything in business, from predictive maintenance and cyberthreat detection, to customer support and relationship management.

What’s happened in response to this demand is a confluence of application development and data science. Development platforms can provide a standardised foundation and the necessary playbooks for East African organisations to create their own models and the applications that utilise them.

Creating your own models can be an intensive process and it’s what makes the cloud an imperative. It also shows what’s possible with the cloud beyond simple data storage and processing functionality. With the right platforms and partnering vendors, enterprises in the region can hit the ground running with their application goals.

Also Read: How and why Kenyan enterprises should adopt a cloud mindset

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