With decentralized clouds, the world moves closer to an all-inclusive digital economy



  • The opportunity to expand digital and data-based trade is becoming a reality
  • HPE is making decentralised cloud a reality in steps towards building an equitable global society
  • Learn why countries must evolve to a decentralized cloud model to gain better access to data where it is created

Are decentralized clouds the answer to the widening digital divide? Xavier explores a new model that gives everyone equal access to data 

Data isn’t just bits and bytes of information that is stored in or used by computers.

It is the currency that is driving the digital economy. And a lack of easy access to this data is further widening the digital divide, broadening the stark realization that the world is separated into two distinct camps: the “haves” and the “have-nots.”

As illustrated by the world’s response to COVID-19, the “haves” were those countries that leveraged advanced technologies and ubiquitous access to data that enabled millions to benefit from remote work, telemedicine and access to vaccines that saved or enhanced countless lives.

The “have-nots” were left by the wayside. In many regions of the world, such as sub-Saharan Africa, the digital economy barely exists. Hundreds of millions of people have no internet, and in many parts of Africa and South Asia, 9 in 10 school-aged children are unconnected – making access to adequate education, healthcare, food and other essential resources nearly impossible.

Just as universal availability to electricity is essential for participation in the modern economy, so too is connectivity in a digital-first world. That requires building digital infrastructure and skills that support all organizations, from rural hospitals in Cambodia, to farmers in Indonesia, to schoolchildren in the rural villages of Rwanda.

To correct this disparity, we must move away from centralized cloud computing infrastructures, which – frankly – enable just a fortunate few to exploit the data created by citizens, consumers and enterprises. And, instead, evolve to a decentralized cloud model that gives all countries – rich and poor – access to data where it is created, which is increasingly at the “edge,” or outside of centralized data centers.

Democratizing data

HPE, as one of the world’s leading providers of cloud computing infrastructure, is committed to making the decentralized cloud a reality and most recently signed an agreement with Smart Africa, an initiative to accelerate the digitalization of the continent and create a common digital market for its countries and citizens.

Patterned after Gaia-X, a European-led project to build a federated decentralized data infrastructure, Smart Africa has a goal of driving digital innovation, economic growth and social progress by sharing data, insights and services at scale.

It’s a dramatic departure from the traditional approach to data management, which involves aggregating data in a central place, often a cloud, and sending insights back to the edge. But in today’s rapid-fire economy, that approach is often too slow. Plus, it can lead to data monopolization as only organizations with the means can capitalize on exponential data.

By moving to a decentralized cloud approach with common standards and architectures, data becomes democratized. And the opportunity to expand digital and data-based trade becomes a reality for everyone by giving countries and territories the ownership of three key elements that most have not had the means to capitalize on: cloud means of production, economic value generated by the cloud and cloud industry related jobs.

To build an equitable global society, data technologies need to be more accessible to organizations and governments that are currently too small, underfunded or underequipped to access and benefit from these advancements. By creating an accessible digital infrastructure through decentralized clouds, HPE and local Service Providers can bring about an equitable Age of Insight -- an era of new discoveries -- that can drive solutions to society’s toughest challenges.

That is the intention behind HPE’s involvement with Smart Africa, which I’ve just expanded. We’re now working on developing a proof of concept for a decentralized cloud federation with some Smart Africa member states, with the hope that it will lead to tangible ways to accumulate and democratize intra-African data. Clearly, as the digital economy evolves, so must our focus on the IT architectures needed to fully capitalize on its promise. By 2023, according to IDC, more than 50% of new enterprise IT infrastructure will be at the edge; furthermore, Gartner® has predicted 1 that more than 50% of data generated by enterprises will be created and processed outside a traditional centralized data center or cloud by 2025.

Through the Smart Africa Alliance and other initiatives, we have the opportunity to close the digital divide and promote digital inclusivity throughout the world. By focusing on the move to decentralized clouds, IT providers can join hands with governments and other organizations to welcome the “have-nots” into a productive, all-inclusive digital economy. 

1 Gartner: Predicts 2022: The Distributed Enterprise Drives Computing to the Edge. Published 20 October 2021 - ID G00757917
*GARTNER is a registered trademark and service mark of Gartner, Inc. and/or its affiliates in the U.S. and internationally and is used herein with permission. All rights reserved.


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