Monday, 23 January 2017

African growth will rely on infrastructure sharing


Since the mid 2000’s ICT organisations have been discussing the importance and the determinant role of infrastructure sharing in the development of ICT markets in Africa. Unfortunately it has not been enough and while it led to many organisations working on the concept, reality is that the open access approach has not been fully embraced, nor is it completely understood.

“The reality is that shared infrastructure is a significant enabling mechanism to stimulate broadband access in South Africa. If sub-Saharan Africa wants to ensure its competitiveness, we need to be decisive and have a clear-cut plan to fully embrace and utilise an open access approach.”

Open access is a disruptor, and one that will ultimately lead to better business and value for end users. Open access and a shared infrastructure approach is one of the most progressive ways for Africa to grow.

Teraco has reached the perfect point of maturity where the market is ready to embrace open access. Having grown its client base to over 300, there is now a proliferation of service providers and all these clients can utilise the ecosystems within Teraco. Everyone is connected and it’s all through an open access model. This is very important for transformation for the economy and for the continent.

A platform for grow                 

Through an open access model companies can also deploy technologies quicker. Sharing can give companies greater leverage and a more efficient and rapid deployment of newer technologies. The cost savings to be made from infrastructure sharing also enables companies to reallocate their competencies and capital on the development of their core business. This is especially the key to success in a competitive and cost conscious market.

The biggest factor in Teraco’s favour is also its key differentiator – the fact that Teraco offers a vendor-neutral and technology-independent environment.  It is also something that is critical to its success. The cloud is a key driver in the current trend towards outsourcing as the modern CIO seeks a total solution and migration path. In order to ease the migration pain, CIOs tend to look for a one-stop shop provider, but this, inevitably, runs the risk of vendor lock-in.

Teraco is able to solve these challenges in stages for the CIO. The initial move to the data centre environment will ensure that efficiencies are gained, after which the next stage sees its Africa Cloud eXchange connecting the CIO with other parties that will help the company migrate into the cloud as he sees fit. In effect, Teraco offers an ecosystem that will enable the CIO to obtain advice and even proof of concept offerings from other Teraco customers. This ecosystem is another key differentiator.

Offering strategic benefits, the Teraco ecosystem delivers industry-specific assistance. This is because as businesses of a certain type move into the Teraco data centre, a core ecosystem develops around them as they encourage customers or suppliers of theirs to also join the data centre.

“Teraco effectively only sells one thing, which is its data centre environment. However, the stickiness of the benefits that comes with this, encompassing everything from improved latency and connectivity to cost-efficiencies and managed services, coupled with its neutrality and this growing ecosystem is what continues to make Teraco a service provider of choice.” 

Connecting Africa

Interconnection and peering - secret to success

There is an estimated ten million square metres of data centre space around the world and this is expected to increase by 40 percent within the next two years. It’s obvious that data centre outsourcing is not just thriving, but growing exponentially.

“Data centre owners have realised that they need to move towards an outsourced option,” .

It is widely understood that every single data centre provider must offer generators and the ubiquitous uninterruptable power supply (UPS). So while power failures are driving more enterprises to outsource their data centres, that is not what is sending them to Teraco. To understand why clients come to Teraco, you need look no further than the ‘open’ philosophy, which limits the cost of interconnection and enables peering and fosters co-operation between companies that would otherwise never have considered working together.

Teraco is a vendor-neutral operator; it has no vested interest in getting customers to use its network. Instead, the company has all the major local and international operators as well as the various undersea cables coming through its data centre.

This means Teraco focuses on saving the customers money and helping them to make money. They do this by making interconnection as cost-effective as possible.

So if a customer decides to move from one telco to another, it’s as simple as unplugging the cable from the old service provider and plugging it into the new one.

In 2012, NAPAfrica was launched.  It is a nonprofit organisation fully funded by Teraco with the goal of bringing content into Africa. It’s designed to overcome the long-haul connections and resultant high latencies of the past, by bringing international content vendors closer to the local market.

NAPAfrica is designed to cut out the middleman by taking the client directly from the network provider to the content provider. This improves both resilience and latency by allowing customers to access content via a local exchange.

The next step is to open up the Southern African Development Community (SADC) nations to the world. NAPAfrica is designed not only to reduce costs locally, but across the entire Sub-Saharan region, enabling these markets to access international content at prices that are no longer exorbitant.

Many of the landlocked African nations have also struggled with the political and regulatory challenges around crossing borders. Thanks to the fact that some of the large carrier clients have cross-border licences, these countries can now access NAPAfrica immediately, which will no doubt have a massive impact on the businesses in these countries. They are now finally getting their chance to truly join the global community.

Building Africa’s biggest data centre

Many local enterprises are not investing in building new data centres. There has been a distinct shift towards handing the data centre environment over to experts and letting them take care of business, like the demand for 99.999 percent uptime. Teraco will double the size of the existing facilities by the end of the year. The new data centre will offer 5 000m2 of new operational space and will provide 10mVA of continuous power. Completion of this new phase will mean that Teraco has a total infrastructure footprint of some 30 000m2, of which 10 000m2 will be operational space. In addition, the total power supplied will be in the region of 16mVA, which is the equivalent of the energy needs of 30 000 households. The new facility will provide current and future operational space at a total ten-year investment of around R1 billion.

“Teraco has a total infrastructure footprint of some 30 000m2.”

With global outsourcing really beginning to take off, Teraco is ideally positioned to capitalise on this trend. In fact, certain issues specific to the South African market are driving customers to the company at an even more rapid rate than in other parts of the world. Thanks to peering, Teraco’s customers have become significant enough to make the large international content players interested in dealing with them as a community.

Teraco’s mission is to break down barriers and foster co-operation between companies that would otherwise never have considered working together. Teraco provides the platform for true strength in numbers.


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