Home
  • >
  • Opinion
  • >
  • Tech disruption looms for Africa's data networking market
Read time: 3 minutes

Tech disruption looms for Africa's data networking market

By , ITWeb
28 Oct 2019

Tech disruption looms for Africa's data networking market

Sometimes a disruptive technology can loiter for a while, before it changes everything. Yet change it will bring, because nothing and no one can defy gravity. So it is, I believe, with the new generation of open compute infrastructure.

For, as the world creates data, there's an equal demand for resources to store, process and make sense from this data to drive business value.

All the thousands of ledgers that used to be created manually now generate legions of data threads, expanded by ever more automation and cross-relationships, driving further data and data processes. Our data revolution has created new data flows, again, from our communication, seeing global hyperscale companies create hundreds of thousands of square metres of datacentres to hold and process their millions of users' data.

These datacentres need power to run the servers, cooling systems and security systems, maintain an optimal ambient temperature, and keep the air dust-free. And this power has been creating a galloping electricity bill in recent years, to such an extent that hyperscalers started investing in R&D to design more energy efficient computing infrastructure.

Two years of design engineering gave birth to the Open Compute Project (OCP), a radical and bold move by leading hyperscalers to create non-proprietary datacentre hardware that achieved a significant milestone in energy efficiency and reduced total cost of ownership.

This move has been well received by other players in the technology innovation space, with leading chip and switch makers joining OCP. More than 1,000 globally leading hardware engineers have since contributed and continue to make improvements to these free, state-of-the-art blueprints for datacentre infrastructure.

And thus, in one step, hardware has been added to the open source revolution that brought the world software from Joomla to Sugar and Linux to Steam as ever-expanding communities of technical contributors.

The chase could not be more timely, with OCP evolving just as cloud computing has been moving into a new gear. The Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) market has been rising for the last 20 years, beginning with customer relationship management services, and steadily claiming ever more software space, from mailing lists to payroll, book-keeping to word processing.

With each new SaaS offering, the cloud grows bigger, and the need for datacentres greater. Yet as a next wave of disruptive technology, OCP has barely appeared on the radar.

Using OCP equipment, versus the kit available from the world's top brand names, has thus far demonstrated a significant reduction in the total cost of ownership and maintenance of datacentre infrastructure. We have been able to register savings of over 40% in implementation as well as licensing costs.

Now that's a big enough difference to change equations everywhere, but for companies like ours, working to effect a technology revolution in Africa, that's akin to a beacon in the dark.

The costs of equipping datacentres have almost been halved, putting these centres within the reach of many small and medium sized businesses, as well as offering our nations' largest companies and government, an opportunity to significantly reduce their operating expenditures attributed to datacentre maintenance.

In short, from the Open Compute Project we have initiated a programme to open computing services to businesses throughout Africa, encompassing organisations that could never have stepped so quickly or so lightly into the cloud were it's still on offer only at more than double the price.

We believe that the capacity for OCP to play its part in bridging the digital divide has been remarkably overlooked until now.

But we also see this technology as a disruptor that the hardware industry and the global cloud services providers have barely understood, as yet. For, with hundreds of our finest hardware engineers engaged in constantly upgrading OCP designs, and the resulting infrastructure out-competing proprietary infrastructure at a fraction of the price, it can only be so long before datacentres make OCP the global standard, forcing proprietary brands to reassess their unique selling points.

For Africa, the move to OCP and the opening of the cloud to hundreds of thousands of companies and millions of citizens, cannot come soon enough. That's why we have made it begin. OCP is no doubt the future in datacentre infrastructure, just as SaaS became the present in software.

* By Toney Webala, Co-Founder and CTO at Atlancis Technologies.

Read more
Login
Daily newsletter