Amazon Web Services, the cloud division of Amazon.com. Picture: Reuters
Amazon Web Services, the cloud division of Amazon.com. Picture: Reuters

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has opened a temporary work and meeting space that connects all its clients with the company’s software developers. The AWS Pop-Up Loft aims to provide customers from large companies, developers, small and medium enterprises and start-ups with technical advice from AWS experts. The start-ups can also take part in a range of activities aimed at finding out how AWS can help to boost their business.

Amazon’s chief technical officer, Werner Vogels, said in an interview this week that the idea behind the loft was mainly about education and information sharing between AWS and its customers.

“We want to give customers (and potential clients) support and help. [We] also [want] feedback from them about our products. Our partners will also be able to connect with customers,” he said.

Feedback from customers will also enable AWS to improve its products and services and create new ones according to clients’ needs, Vogels said.

Depending on its success in Johannesburg, the AWS Pop Up Loft may be extended and also open in other parts of the country.

AWS runs the Pop-Up Lofts in other cities, like London, New York, San Francisco, and Tokyo. The Johannesburg Pop-Up Loft, which will open until the end of March, will feature talks from startups such as Pineapple, Custos Media Technologies. 

Vogels reiterated AWS’s investment in SA in data centres, its first in Africa, saying that he hopes the launch will grow the group’s client base in SA and the rest of the African continent.

“We want to make sure customers get the absolute best and reliable secure services,” said Vogels.

He said AWS anticipates to serve most of Sub-Sahara Africa from Cape Town. 

Vogels would not comment on how many jobs are expected to be created. 

“After we launched our region India we saw a rise of about 70% of new customers coming on board. Whether that is a blueprint here for SA, I don’t know. Once we have a [regional data centre] we expect to see a significant increase,” he said.

The data centres, which will be based in Cape Town, will open in the first half of 2020. This will give customers access to cloud-computing services including data storage and security. The company’s technologies will also speed up time-to-market for its clients who will be able to roll out their new services faster, it said.

Vogels says many of AWS's existing and new customers are prioritising security as they move to the cloud.

AWS said its customers in SA would also be able to store their data locally with the assurance that their content will not move without consent, while those looking to comply with the upcoming Protection of Personal Information Act will have access to secure infrastructure that meets the most rigorous international compliance standards.

AWS’s clients in SA include Absa, Investec, Old Mutual, Pick n Pay and Standard Bank. Pick n Pay has moved its e-commerce and mobile customer application to AWS, resulting in significant savings, the retailer said previously.

AWS’s parent company, Amazon, already has a software developer centre in Cape Town, which was opened in 2004 and focuses on building networking technologies as well as next-generation software. AWS is also working with universities and start-ups to develop talent.

mochikot@businesslive.co.za