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Hyperscaling Africa’s ability to digitally transform through the power of the data centre

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Hyperscaling Africa’s ability to digitally transform through the power of the data centre
Hyperscaling Africa’s ability to digitally transform through the power of the data centre.

Digital transformation is reshaping every industry and sector, because of agile technologies like software defined data centres. Companies are moving their workloads into the cloud due to aging infrastructure and escalating costs, with many of these cloud computing services being delivered through hyperscale data centres.

In fact, according to the Cisco Global Cloud Index: Forecast and Methodology, 2016–2021 White Paper, hyperscale data centres will constitute 53% of the total installed data centre servers and account for 55% of all data centre traffic by 2021.

Hyperscalers invest heavily in compute capabilities, software, machine learning, and automation far beyond the extent of the average enterprise. New research by Synergy Research Group has revealed that the number of mega-scale data centres run by these providers will exceed 390 before the end of this year. Consequently, data centre operators are designing their infrastructure to cater for immediate deployments of compute, storage and networking resources, and the need to turn capacity on and off at short notice for hyperscalers, which include Google, Facebook, and Amazon.

Hyperscaler readiness is complex

In South Africa, catering to hyperscalers’ resource-intensive requirements involves overcoming a number of challenges – not least of which is the ability to access a reliable electricity supply from the municipality or Eskom.

Rapid turnaround time from RFP to deployment also means that local data centre providers should have the base infrastructure at least partly built – a design shift for traditional Enterprise colocation providers to create on-tap deployments at the lowest cost. African companies hoping to attract hyperscalers need to invest heavily in data centre deployments, and this does involve a fair amount of risk based on the old saying “build it and they will come”.

Hybrid IT and multi-tenanted facilities

Another challenge for most providers is the fact that local enterprises usually retain some of their services and data through on-premise infrastructure. The enterprise market is the main consumer of data centre provider services such as disaster recovery and back-up deployments, but providers also need to cater for the wholesale and SME market segments within the same facilities.

Due to the scale and specific requirements of hyperscalers, providers struggle to meet these demands at the right price. To succeed, providers will have to address the hybrid IT requirements of local customers, and understand the fundamentals of adapting to the growing demands of hyperscalers and their entry into Africa.

Meeting hyperscaler and enterprise demand

Building data centres that are both hyperscaler ready, and enterprise appropriate can be achieved in a number of ways, but will ultimately rely on infrastructural necessities including metro fibre rings, adequate power supply and ideally located facilities close to business districts to achieve extremely low latency.

Partnering with international data centre providers with hyperscaling experience in their respective markets may be one way of achieving hyperscaler readiness that is capable of meeting blended demands, while delivering data centres that are future-proof and sustainable. Satisfying hyperscaler partnership requirements will require a local data centre provider to meet stringent service arrangements, demonstrate proven expertise and deliver the highest levels of certification.

By Sameer Cassim, R&D Systems Architect at Internet Solutions

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