The Riverbed Blog (testing)

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Accelerating South Africa

Posted by riverbedtest on April 18, 2011

I just returned from a too-short trip to South Africa.  Last week we held User Forums in both Flagbig Capetown  and Johannesburg, and I was the primary speaker.  This was a most enlightening visit.

IMG_0480 We started in Cape Town, and for the first day's meeting we drove about 45 minutes from our hotel in downtown Cape Town to a beachfront restaurant in Melkbosstrand, a township within Cape Town.  Die Damhuis ("The Dam House") is the oldest building in Melkbosstrand and used to be a private homestead next to a dam. The building has been declared a National Monument and has been restored to its former glory to accommodate the beachfront restaurant.  We met with about 10 local customers and at least one Riverbed prospect.  It made a beautiful and memorable venue for our meeting.

The second day we met in a fairly conventional hotel, the Melrose Arch, in JAfricamapohannesburg where we had about 15 customers, including two from as far away as Kenya.

In each venue, and despite some nasty jet lag, I spoke for about 2 1/2 hours and the audience was extremely attentive and interested and asked many questions.  The biggest differences that I heard about between WAN Optimization in the US and in South Africa are:

  1. Wide area networking and network connectivity in South Africa is slow, unreliable, expensive, and generally of poor quality.  This means that as valuable as Steelhead appliance functionality is here in the US and other areas where network connectivity is good, it's even more important in South Africa, where IT organizations can get satisfactory amounts of data through these unreliable and inconsistent pipes.
  2. Cloud services are virtually non-existent in South Africa.  I spent some time talking about Whitewater and Cloud Steelhead before I learned that these powerful technologies are still a few years away from being useful in this part of the world.
  3. There was more interest in our satellite-based optimization (Skipware) than I have seen when speaking with US customers.  That's not hard to understand given the remoteness of many of the locations in Africa where networking services are required. 

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Before I flew home Thursday  night, I got to spend a few hours at The Lion Park, a sort of game reserve and zoo (though their web site says it's neither of those things), where I had the chance to see some really cool animals (zebras, giraffes, hyenas, antelopes, cheetahs, meerkats, and others) up close and personal, and even got to pet some white lion cubs.  (I took all of the photos in today's blog posting.)

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  Special thanks to Vanessa White, Melissa Craig, Christo Briedenhann, and Retha Meiring who help cover Africa for Riverbed, and who made this trip an absolute pleasure! 

4 Responses to “Accelerating South Africa”

  1. Christo Briedenhann said

    Hi Evan; Thanks for an excellent event. We already have several customers who are extremely excited about Cascade and the idea to monitor and manage their Networks with Riverbed technology. I think Forum!!

  2. Jon Rudol said

    Hi Evan, thanks for this very interesting article. My organization has been using Steelheads in Africa since late 2007 and we now have 35 deployed in 12 countries in Africa with 50 deployed globally. The majority of these offices in Africa are using VSAT connectivity. The Steelhead is now an essential part of our network services portfolio and allows us to provide a consolidated Exchange environment, Sharepoint 2010 and frees up bandwidth for us to run VoIP over these links.

  3. 21500 said

    Hi Evan,
    The differences between SA and US in points 1,2 and 3 are not true and paint a false perception. Perhaps you are referring to the questions from the Angolan delegation.
    Regarding SA:
    Country wide WAN speeds range from entry level 64kbps to 40gbps links. Links are supported by SLA’s equivalent to international standards.
    Cloud services are in buzz/bubble phase just as everywhere else.
    VSAT is not a popular option in South Africa.
    Thanks for visiting Capetown and please come again:)

  4. I was simply reporting on what I heard from the event attendees in both cities. There was universal agreement on these comments from more than 20 different people in two cities, so I shared them in the blog post.
    I’m happy to have your comments with the article to offer a different perspective, but what I wrote is what I heard.
    Thank you for your comments and interest. I hope to return to both Cape Town and Joburg soon. It was a wonderful trip.

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