Telkom’s Group CEO Reuben September, today launched the company’s latest green data centre, called Bellville 2, in Cape Town under a new brand offering called Cybernest.
These developments fall under the ambit of Telkom’s Data Centre Operations (DCO) which was formed when the Telkom Group was restructured into three business units earlier this year, the other two being Telkom SA and Telkom International.
“As we strive to maintain our position as one of the leaders in SA while expanding our footprint on the African continent, we have consistently articulated that ‘defend and grow’ is the essence of our refocused strategy. Providing impetus to our data centre operations via the Bellville 2 launch clearly amplifies our growth strategy,” said Reuben September, Telkom’s Group CEO.
He added that the convergence of Information Technology (IT) with the Company’s telco capabilities was a “natural extension of Telkom’s value proposition”.
Telkom initially attempted to grow its data centre operations and capabilities by exploring the acquisition route both locally and globally. “Having extensively researched best practices across the globe with regard to data centre operations, we’re now in a position to leapfrog many other players in this field. For instance, our new data centre in Bellville – in terms of design, capacity as well as our environmentally friendly, energy-efficient features – places it on par with the top 10% in the world,” stated September.
He explained that several strategic considerations have driven Telkom’s expansion into the IT services market. Foremost among these is the massive demand for a robust, redundant infrastructure. “Internationally, demand for data centres exceeds supply by something in the region of 6:1,” said September, adding that some analysts expect the local DCO market to grow at about 22% per annum.
He added: “Our DCO vision of being a leading competitor in providing IT services complements Telkom’s overall vision of becoming Africa’s preferred ICT service provider as we focus on long-term profitability and diversification of our revenue streams through growth in existing and new markets. It is, therefore, abundantly clear that the data centre services space is not only a logical extension of our core business but another step up the ICT value stack.”
Besides currently providing both basic and managed hosting services to around 80 external customers, Telkom has provided data centre services internally for more than 15 years. “Here, we are talking about more than 32 000 mailboxes, 700 000 emails per day and some
30 000 managed devices,” stated September.
“We are currently managing over R2.5 billion worth of IT assets,” he emphasised, adding that from an infrastructure perspective, the Company currently manages over 4000 servers and more than 1460 operating systems and database instances each. As far as ISP services are concerned, approximately 9.7 million incoming mails a day are currently processed.
“It is, therefore, very evident that in terms of size, volume, experience and skills we are ideally positioned to compete effectively in what is admittedly a very competitive market,” stated September, adding that FIFA is currently one of the DCO’s most satisfied customers.
“Apart from provisioning the backbone ICT infrastructure for this year’s Confederations Cup and next year’s FIFA World Cup, we are also providing for all FIFA”s local data centre hosting requirements. We have tailored our data centre solutions in strict adherence to FIFA’s IT and hosting requirements and these are integrated with Telkom’s VPN Supreme network offering,” explained September.
Acting Managing Director for Telkom’s Data Centre Operations, Pierre Marais, added: “Convergence has torn down the barriers between telecommunications and IT. We have no doubt that this presents the next battleground between these two sectors with the data centre capability and offerings being an important weapon in the arsenal of competing service providers. We believe that those owning both sets of skills, on the scale that Telkom does, will carry the day.
Marais emphasised that Telkom’s DCO was aimed to be “a hugely successful end-to-end converged ICT services provider in a competitive market space”.
“It is always more cost-effective for companies to outsource their non-core business such as their IT requirements to a provider such as Telkom DCO who have the capability to efficiently manage the speed at which IT is evolving, thereby affording them a distinct competitive edge. As an aggregator of scale, we will be able to pass on the benefits derived from economies of scale to our customers,” explained Marais.
Furthermore, Marais stated that Telkom’s strategy concerning Data Centre network access is to enable a “carrier neutral” architecture.
“In addition, over 50% of Bellville 2 is pre-provisioned and this will enable us to move customers in extremely rapidly. Furthermore, the architecture allows for virtualisation which enables cloud computing and on-demand services, thereby ensuring that our data centre capability is fast, nimble and responsive to evolving customer needs,” enthused Marais, adding that dual homing to more than one power feed enhanced the facility’s reliability and security.
“In general, our layered security systems are already highly-vaunted, while Bellville’s location is also ideally situated for international connectivity via the undersea optical fibre cable systems that land at Melkbosstrand,” Marais said.
With the addition of Bellville 2, Telkom now boasted a total of six hosting facilities (four in Gauteng and two in Bellville). “These six data centres present a combined floor capacity of
9 700m² and are interconnected to provide various business continuity options. We can therefore truly claim that we will put your IT at the centre of our network,” stated Marais.
If required, Telkom’s DCO will partner to tailor customer solutions. Marais explained that the DCO services currently entail basic and managed infrastructure hosting and that these will progressively be followed by desktop outsourcing and, ultimately, full outsourced solutions within two to three years.
Marais highlighted Bellville 2 as a purpose-built, best in class facility, not only with regard to technical expertise, but especially with regard to its ecological footprint. The Bellville 2 data centre is built on Tier 4 principles, incorporating a holistic green approach to energy management. Telkom’s cutting-edge approach to energy-saving includes components such as effective air management, virtualisation and free-air cooling. Depending on conditions, the latter alone could potentially reduce energy consumption by approximately 15% per year.
“The worldwide energy consumption of data centres has doubled between 2000 and 2006 and, in the construction of Bellville 2, it became imperative that we did what is right in the best interests of our customers, shareholders, our business and the environment,” stated Marais.
He added that Telkom’s DCO currently embraces a South African business model but that a Pan-African strategy would shortly be developed. “From a data centre perspective we are firming up our capabilities in Africa, particularly as many of our domestic enterprise customers expand their operations across the continent.”
Marais explained that Telkom’s experience, stability and reliability with regard to DCO capabilities would provide the assurance that customers’ information assets were in secure hands. “Simultaneously, it must be remembered that our DCO, as a stand-alone business unit, is geared to provide quick-response, innovative and customised solutions. Our ultimate promise is, therefore, one of maverick stability,” said Marais.
He also emphasised that Telkom was no new entrant or competitor in the DCO marketplace. “It is, perhaps, more accurate to say that we are the new kid on the block who has already been around the block a few times,” concluded Marais.