I hope Google and AWS will follow suite and build datacenter in SA.
Disclosure: I work on Google Cloud.
I just publish and run. Some web apps have been running for over 4 years, without me touching it and paying customers ( 1-10). I only had one small "downtime" moment, but it was over after 15 minutes.
I wouldn't expect anything more from where i host it. The biggest annoyance i had was the redesign of the dashboard, which had me confused for a while ( it changed a lot, so that's normal), then again, i don't hate change. I switched to the new interface asap.
My first choice was AWS. Their telephonic verification system failed when I was trying to signup and I wasn't allowed to finalise signup. Tried 3-5 times more and gave up. Just when I was about to rewrite my system using open source technologies, I discovered that Google Cloud does have .NET support. It was a big relief.
Up to this day, I still don't understand why Google can offer services using Microsoft software cheaper than Microsoft itself. Maybe I am just not their target market.
The CPU minutes/day come from serving your site's HTTP requests and the like.
Now that you give details it doesn't seem to fit what you said. Sounds like your issues were pricing (no trial, higher cost, fewer resources per $) and your confusion with Microsoft "jargon". That doesn't equal very bad service to me.
As for Google, I never needed to contact them. Everything just worked. Right information was provided every step of the way, which eliminated the need to contact them. The whole setup took me less than an hour and my site was up and running.
Regarding Google, I had really bad experience with that at some point. When App Engine was still young, it was mega unreliable, it seemed not even the Google people could predict when it failed. Not only that, at some point, when it wasn't so beta anymore, they changed pricing model and raised the prices unproportionally high. Eventually I painfully migrated my app onto some Virtual Private Server.
> First I was told that I am not eligible for trial.
I had 150 € for free a month, for half a year or so and afterwards access to a 60k € program. You can try to apply for that.
Anyways, I don't want to make any advertisment. My current project is hosted on Scaleway using Docker, so I can do what I want and I don't depend on any Tech Giant's benevolence.
In terms of market share on cloud computing platforms, Google is currently running third to AWS and Azure, so it makes sense for them to take some short term losses to help build their position.
Whether they will maintain that kind of pricing in the long term, remains to be seen.
They're definitely being aggressive with pricing but they're still making money. Their pricing is definitely way better to deal with than AWS or Azure.
They're just now offering the same tech to the public with GCP products like Compute Engine, Spanner, BigQuery, etc. which shows in the level of sophistication and performance compared to Azure and AWS.
You obviously feel that Google's services are more advanced than Microsoft's and Amazon's but from a market share perspective they're clearly running third to those two.
All 3 majors have great tech but Google has been doing much more advanced stuff which can be seen directly in their products. Everything in GCP is seamless from scaling without warm-ups, per-minute billing, automatic discounts, custom vm shapes, live migration, truly global load balancing, etc... and that's just in their compute engine product.
They're providing you something for free, which costs them money to provide...
At Google's scale, unless you mine bitcoins and actually use CPU/GPU time, the money Google actually spends on your tiny $300 free trial is maybe worth a dollar or two (and if they run free trials on machines that are paid off in terms of taxes, the only "expenses" are a tiny tiny sliver of maintenance - at Google scale network connectivity is basically free).
Cloud providers, especially for 24/7 running services, are a total rip-off even compared to managed servers, and deploying your own bare metal will blow any cloud calculation away when you're getting serious (> 200GB RAM, 50+ cores). The real strength of cloud is when you need extremely high computing power for very short time (e.g. heavy software builds, occasional transcoding, ML training).
And it's opportunity cost we're looking at here. It may only cost them a small amount to provide the resources (although that ignores the cost of developing/maintaining the services) but if they provide $300 of credit to one party that's resources they're not selling for $300 to someone else.
I wrote  that a good site in Africa would be challenging, because one would have to "pick a spot touched by more than one thick pipe, in jurisdiction known for political and civic stability and a regime with rough compatibility to the ideology and national security apparatus of western allies -- their home base and primary source of customers; receptive and promoting of foreign investment, and having access to multiple reliable, redundant power sources from which to draw energy."
While South Africa ranks high on stability and ideological compatibility, and reasonably on fiber , my understanding was that reliable and redundant utility power supply is a significant issue . I'd be curious to see whether co-generation will be used to overcome these limitations.
In the years since the rolling blackouts, I have been colocated in data centers that have made the decision to use special pricing available from the power utility, available when you can have a preemptable load… during peak hours of peak season the power company can tell you to get off the grid with short notice. The data center operators did OK when they did this for most years. They got a lower price on power all year, in exchange for running their generators more. I’d say that the typical year, they ran the generators for several hours per day for 7 to 10 days in the Summer months. The last year they dd this, they ran a much higher number of days than expected… maybe 15 - 18 days from noon to 7pm. I understand they had to stop doing this because of the pollution of the generators or the permits required for such heavy usage... but that info is not first hand. It could have been many other reasons such as neighbors complaining about the noise in the business parks (2MW diesel generators are deafeningly loud), costs related to running the generators for so many hours, etc.
To operate like this, you have to be on your game for maintenance of the generators and checklists and training. You also have to have multiple contracts with fuel delivery trucks, just incase your outage lasts for a while. These data centers were all under 5MW in size each. We never lost critical load during a power supplier outage.
I hope I have illustrated that a reliable power supply is not strictly required to run a reliable data center or service that is dependent upon a reliable data center.
A year or so is fine because those issues have been resolved by:
- a slower economy (I'm putting this here because we shot ourselves on the foot)
- more generational power coming in
- the rise of independent power-producers.
So there should be stability from a power generation perspective.
It's "long gone" because depending on which part of society you come from, you might have gone a few years without experiencing load-based power issues.
In general the power issues still exist once you step out of the suburbs or metros, but then again the DCs will likely be hosted there, or MS will enter into a power agreement that gives them preference over the rest of the average consumer.
I'm just glad that we'll have Azure DCs as a start, and hope Google and Amazon follow suit if MS succeeds.
Glad to see things change and a small step into a more connected and peaceful world.
...because they don't know that the internet is a network of networks. I.e. They should build their own strong internal network.
Instead, their networks are designed only as dumb pipes to deliver the internet.
We're 90% AWS here, but would probably use Azure for those clients if they had a data centre in that region.
My day-job is as a consultant in the financial sector. It's been always burdensome getting a project approved where the data will reside outside of the country. We have smaller players , but their rates are exorbitant in comparison to MS, GOOG and Amazon.
I'm glad and optimistic about this move from MS, because now we can get more work done with less red-tape.
It can be mitigated somewhat by reducing the quality of the video and using CDNs, but even edge nodes are scarce in that are of the world.
I imagine it would be fine for normal applications, aside from being a little slower, but video is a challenge.
But don't blame the industry for not having a major datacenter anywhere on that continent. You need a stable power supply for that to make sense, which very few countries there have. Even Ghana that used to brag about that is now a basket case, last I checked.
You also need a stable and at least substantially non-corrupt political situation, I would think? That rules out a lot of countries in Africa.
That rules out a lot of countries in the world including Russia, USA, and Brazil :/
All facetiousness aside, I am really glad to learn of this development. It goes to show the dynamic potential locked up and waiting to be exploited in Africa.
The infrastructure problems are not insurmountable and the high returns accruable to investors will more than compensate any willing entrepreneur.
Africa is not an investment destination for the future. It is an investment destination for today.
(On a related note, a company I am inolved with is starting a training school for the next generation of elite developers from Nigeria and we are searching for international technical and financial partners. I'd love to hear from any interested HN readers.
Email in profile.)
I don't see any email in your profile.
Actually that plays in the favor of foreign corporations, who are more likely to pony up bribes in your favorite foreign currency.
It is great that those countries get the infrastructure to enjoy what is already possible in the majority of the world.
Sure there are many roadblocks for that to be an easy goal, but not doing anything is worse I think.
EDIT:Screw the 'groupthink' on HN. Why would you downvote a simple non-offensive comment like this? Africa and its technology are my specific area for research. I know what I am talking about.
Though yes, if Oblio was talking shit about Africa they could use a bit of Three Stooges-esque slapping about.
My phrasing was a bit awkward but my point was exactly what you said.
Every time there's a discussion about major cloud providers (Amazon, Google, etc.) in Africa someone says: "oh, there are DCs in Africa". Then you look them up and they're all in South Africa and the rest of Africa is blank.
There's a reason AfriNIC is better suited to being in Kenya, but is in Mauritius. Even on raw metric terms you wouldn't find Kenya higher on a single metric in terms of cost, or bandwidth. The only one would be latency to Europe and that too due to physical constraints - and even so just on backbone lines.
I'm afraid these two things are incompatible with each other.
If there are any, they're super recent.
From what they tell me, some parts of Nigeria have never had electricity, especially in the oil-rich Niger Delta. Hard to believe, but that's the way it is.
It seems to me that staking out the unclaimed position at the furthest southern economic hub makes sense as a first step, whether that hub has the most customers or not.
Perhaps Rwanda as well.
Uninterrupted power is a major challenge here on the continent.
Power is no biggie - network providers have learned to live on power generators.
The main issue is that Cable, Fiber penetration is very low.
Equinix datacenters in SV are actually cheaper to run on a generator, but it's not sustainable and against regulations (except obviously in a power outage).
Because oil prices won't stay that low forever, in fact Saudi-Arabia and other OPEC members lowered the production quotas to get higher oil prices. The budgets of many countries with natural resources expect a certain price floor for oil - this especially hits Saudi-Arabia as they don't have much economy except oil and a tiny bit of Mecca tourism, but also Russia which has been hit hard by the drop in oil price and which doesn't have any kind of industry that's comparable to oil in terms of exports.
I am of the opinion that oil should really not be wasted for things that don’t require very high energy density, unlike transportation etc. But setting up a coal plant seems like a project of entirely different magnitude.
In other words, input (diesel in this case) is directly related to output (profit.)
Also safe and not corrupt. Can't bribe yourself out of a speeding ticket there...
They've made incredible strides.