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[Interview] Nick Treurnicht, Customer Engineer for Google Workspace, DigiCloud Africa, South Africa


Nick Treurnicht is the Customer Engineer for Google Workspace at DigiCloud Africa, Africa’s Google Cloud Brokerage, specialising in Google Cloud products – including Google Cloud Platform, G Suite, Google Maps and Chrome.

Kindly introduce yourself and your role at DigiCloud Africa.

I have been working with Google Workspace since 2013 and have sold it, trained on it, deployed it and migrated it.  I started at a Google Partner in South Africa and assisted in them becoming a Premier Google Partner.  I have in depth knowledge of the entire platform and who it best serves customers in adopting the real cloud.  I then moved to Digicloud Africa as Google’s Distributor as I have a passion not just for South Africa, but the whole of Africa.  This continent is where Google and Digicloud can enable the next billion users.  I assist our ecosystem of Partners with technical expertise, customer engagements and solutions validation.  I assist them with deployments and migrations as well.  A happy customer makes for a happy partner.  And the partners are our customers.

Digicloud Africa is Google’s enablement partner in Africa. Tell us about this.

Digicloud Africa is the sole distributor in Africa for Google products; Google Workspace as well as Google Cloud Platform.  We function as the enablement and onboarding arm of Google, assisting in growing the Google ecosystem in Africa.  We onboard and train and assist with upskilling the partners on behalf of Google.  We offer our customers sales expertise as well as technical assistance so that they may best serve their customers.  We have experts on all the Google products that have worked at other partners and have gained valuable experience over the years that we now share with our partners, showing them how to become a Premier Partner themselves.

What role is DigiCloud Africa playing in growing African businesses, especially when it comes to cloud adoption?

Digicloud Africa employs a variety of Cloud Architects, Machine Learning specialists, Data Engineers and DevOps Engineers, Security Engineers to name a few.  All skilled and experienced in Google Cloud Platform.  Our partners’ customers benefit from our experience and guidance to assist them in their journey into Google Cloud.  We also assist in marketing the skills of our partners and host webinars online alongside our partners for visibility.  With Google Workspace, we show companies how to run their collaboration platform fully in the cloud.  Use your account from any internet connected device and never lose a document or an email ever again.  Ongoing engagements with the customer ensures that we are there every step of the way to assist the customer in making the right IT decision that supports their cloud strategy.

Why are the solutions you’re providing so important for African businesses?

Now is the best time to adopt the Cloud and with Digicloud Africa and Google’s support it’s easier than ever before to make it happen. If you are building an application or starting a company, you don’t need to and often cannot afford to, start by investing in hardware.  It is costly and requires continual maintenance and upgrades.  This stifles innovation.  Africa has an amazing entrepreneurial spirit that we wish to see growing over the next decade.  The Cloud not only helps you scale up when you need the services, but also scale down when it’s not needed during a lockdown as we saw in 2020.  On a continent where finding the right hardware is often difficult and costly, the Cloud offers you access to state of the art technology.

The demand for cloud services in Africa is growing fast, especially during this pandemic? Do you believe it’s time for every business to move to the cloud?

Yes.  Maintain the servers you have while planning your journey into the cloud.  Stop investing in costly short term solutions (server upgrades).  Modernise your application architecture so that you can run it in the most efficient manner in the Cloud.  Don’t just spin up virtual machines in the Cloud and keep running legacy code in the same old way.  Africa has tremendous skills in IT engineering.  At the start of the pandemic and the lockdown in 2020, we saw many companies running legacy systems rush to deploy Google Workspace.  Most of the companies already running Workspace didn’t have a hard time picking up their laptops and working from home.  We even saw an increase in productivity instead of a decrease, as most business owners and managers feared.

Let’s talk about the future. In Africa, cloud remains a key part in shaping how Africa will grow when it comes to technological infrastructure. What does the future look like?

The future is serverless with a hybrid cloud strategy.  Customers in the cloud should be able to move their applications and workloads between clouds seamlessly.  They will be able to work from anywhere in the world from any type of device; Windows, Macbook, Linux or Chromebook.  Google Workspace for Education is also taking off in Africa in a big way where again Chromebooks are playing an important role.  Kids today entering the workforce tomorrow won’t comprehend why they can’t work remotely or switch devices in the middle of the day and continue working.  Users shouldn’t be bound to their desk, where they can only perform their job function from their device.  Brick and mortar shop fronts will be less prevalent as it’s too costly to maintain and staff.  eCommerce and Logistics is going to play an important role and the cloud will enable that to scale globally.

You are among the speakers an upcoming Google Workspace webinar on April 22nd,  why was it so important to have this webinar?

Post lockdown regulations in South Africa have revealed that users want to continue to work from home.  People are much more productive when given flexibility and the right tools.  This webinar will show you in a very practical way how many Workspace customers did not have a hard time with lockdown or working remotely.  You had access to all of your emails AND files and business tools just like you did in the office.

 Still, on the webinar, what should participants expect?

Participants can expect to get a great overview of what Google Workspace is capable of.  They will see the product in action as well and learn how easy it is to use.  They might have heard about ways of using Google Workspace and they might have heard about how other companies are using it successfully, but this webinar will give them a forum to ask questions and ask to see certain features in action and debunk myths about Google Workspace.  They will hopefully be inspired to do things differently and see how MS Office isn’t needed for an organisation at all.  No Office, no servers.

With the webinar happening, what opportunities do you see for DigiCloud in Africa?

We see a big opportunity for all the Africa companies still running legacy email servers on prem to modernise their setup.  All the companies wanting to replace MS Office with something more robust and easy to use where Google Workspace is a natural fit.  Many people have a misconception on what Google Workspace has to offer and only a practical demonstration of “A day in the life of a Workspace user” can really show them how easy IT can be.  The opportunity for Digicloud is really to showcase the strength of our Partner (Incentro) in Africa and how they are supporting their customers and helping them digitally transform.

Any closing remarks?

This document was edited on a Chromebook (not Windows) using Google Docs (not MS Word) in the Chrome browser.  Every word that I typed was seamlessly saved as I typed without having to activate a certain setting.  The document was automatically saved to Google Drive which means it was backed up to our eDiscovery and Compliance platform (Google Vault) which is built into Google Workspace.  We want to show Africa how easily we do things and solve problems and build workflows without needing to host any servers without any downtime, from anywhere, on any device.

Click here to register for Google Workspace webinar on April 22nd

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Nixon Kanali

Tech journalist based in Nairobi. I write about tech, business and African startups. Founder and Editor For TechTrendsKE. Nixon is also the East African tech editor for Africa Business Communities. Send tips to nkanali@techtrendske.co.ke.

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