Africa: Future data architecture beginning to fall into place – Internet Exchange Points and Data Centers
NAPAfrica started as an initial exchange of just 64 mbps and the recent growth makes it one of the largest multi-lateral peering exchanges in Africa. NAPAfrica argues that it offers customers an immediately visible and continuously growing network of peers with just one peering agreement. “The simplicity of just one agreement is further enhanced by settlement-free interconnection,” says Lex Van Wyk, Managing Director, Teraco.
The pitch is that instead of having to establish, manage and maintain individual peering sessions with each exchange participant, peers at NAPAfrica have the option of creating only one peering session with the route servers. “Currently we manage 1045 interconnects and offer access to over 20 carriers offering our clients access to a total capacity of 23tbps.” says van Wyk. “We’ve also seen over 4gbps of private peering live within the data centre which truly demonstrates the core benefit of an exchange like NAPAfrica.”
NAPAfrica works Africa Cloud eXchange (ACX), which Teraco launched earlier in the year.
These kinds of shared data delivery network that will help reduce the operating costs to both consumers and corporates, rely on the existence of data centers. The number and size of these have been growing rapidly over the last 12 months but outside of South Africa most are still well below the 1,000 sq m level. However, some of these will fit into global networks of data centers.
Orange will open a data center in Johannesburg that will form part of its global data center delivery network.
As with every kind of infrastructure, these have become new “pinch points” where the dominant mobile players try to assert their control over this emerging market. For example, a mobile operator will build a data center and tell potential customers that they can only use it if they buy connectivity from them. The larger, more dominant players have more peering relationships and therefore can use this to capture market share.
Neutral data center providers can offer a much more cost effective service and if they achieve “critical mass” will succeed in gaining significant market share and peering connections.