Friday, 26 July 2013

Data centres in a box provide speedy solution

Its been a month of data centre developments, with Venema Advies, the Netherlands-based IT solutions company and data centre operator, saying it is building the first carrier-neutral data centre in Nigeria; which follows the news that Globacom opened a new data centre in June. 

David King, CEO, Flexenclosure has written:
"The penetration of data in African markets is still low, even in South Africa, and prices are still high. And even if everybody agrees that data will take off in a big way, it is difficult to predict when it will happen and how fast. There are of course going to be a number of challenges to overcome. How can you best prepare to quickly respond to the anticipated demand without investing too much too early?
The biggest challenge is infrastructure. High quality, efficient data centres are essential. They house and power all the equipment needed for transmission of data and are both the heart and brain of any network. But traditional builds for data centres take a lot of time to plan, co-ordinate (with different suppliers) and construct. 
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Furthermore, challenging environments add a lot of risk to a data centre project, often resulting in delays and budget over-runs. Buildings for data centres are often not purpose built to be used as technical facilities, often with water leaks and other problems, as well as being over-dimensioned since they cannot be expanded quickly and easily. 
The solution is pre-fabricated modular data centres. They are quicker to deploy and will in most cases save considerable time and money compared to traditional brick and mortar buildings. The facility will always be the 'right' size since its modular structure makes it easy to quickly expand in response to changing needs.
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More efficient power and cooling will make a pre-fabricated data centre more cost effective to run. And quality, budget and the time plan can more easily be ensured for pre-fabricated purpose built facilities, bringing predictability to the project.
A pre-fabricated solution also makes it much easier to customise the data centre for specific needs and it can be deployed anywhere. Let us take a look at a live example: Vodacom in Mozambique (a subsidiary of Vodafone) recently decided to deploy a modular data centre (the eCentre) on top of a six-storey parking garage next to its corporate headquarters in central Maputo.
The roof top turn-key deployment is a 126 square meter open space data centre. Vodacom needed to put the facility in place quickly, efficiently, and on time. The pre-fabricated build reduced the project risk significantly because the construction work was all done in ten weeks in a clean environment (in Sweden) and the installation work needed on site was completed in only eight days, in total a fraction of what a similar local brick and mortar project would have taken.
Speed and predictability in challenging environments are critical issues in Africa considering it is the fastest growing mobile market in the world and the take off for data could be right around the corner. Pre-fabricated, modular and custom-designed data centres that can be deployed very quickly, and easily re-deployed if needed, is yet another innovative solution to an African problem (or rather African situation, since there is nothing problematic with fast growth). 
It is a solution that will allow data centre owners – internet service providers, hosting companies, mobile operators and banks – in Africa to act quickly and confidently towards a demand for data that might be stronger than any of us expect."
David King, CEO, Flexenclosure 

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Etisalat starts to make plans for when it becomes the third largest African telco..

As the sale of Maroc Telecom to Etisalat slowly inches forward, with Vivendi finally getting round to saying it had entered into exclusive talks with Etisalat to sell its 53 percent, Etisalat has started to consider what this might mean.

It has already met with analysts and shared its plans to create a French-speaking telecom cluster of about 42 million subscribers across 10 countries in West Africa. Etisalat is already present in Benin, Cote d'Ivoire, Gabon, Niger, Central African Republic and Togo with its Alantique (Moov) subsidiary. Maroc Telecom will be contributing units in Morocco (of course), Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Mali and also Gabon. 

Etisalat share of African mobile subscription market before and after Maroc Telecom acquisition as at Q1 2013

Source: industry sources, company reports, Blycroft estimates c. Blycroft 2013

The deal would see Etisalat's share of the African mobile subscription market move from 7 percent with some 50.78 million subscribers to 11 percent with around 82.7 million.
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Gabon - even with the combined subscriber base - will still only be the third smallest Etisalat market in Africa. Past experience suggests that the merger of networks can be a protracted affair: the UK's EE network still reflects the original T-Mobile and Orange architecture some three years after the two announced the merger. And as with the UK's EE, the combined subscriber base will ultimately lose members, as subscribers with duplicate subscriptions  cancel. 

The Moov network in Gabon has some 410,000 subscribers, and Maroc's 820,000. AMETW is forecasting a combined total of around 1.24 million, with the smaller Moov network being absorbed by the larger Gabon Telecom operation.

Etisalat African properties post-Maroc Telecom acquisition Q1 2013

Source: industry sources, company reports, Blycroft estimates c. Blycroft 2013

Etisalat says economies of scale, reduced capital expenditure costs, potential mobile data revenues and new digital services are all strategic reasons to merge the operations in Africa. 

However, the Moroccan government, which has a blocking 30 percent stake in Maroc Telecom, still has to decide whether to allow the deal.

In April 2013 Vivendi had two bids for its stake from Etisalat and Ooredoo, formerly Qatar Telecom (Qtel). In June the latter withdrew, saying the negotiations were taking too long, and it had other bids in play. It subsequently won a licence in Myanmar.

Etisalat would move from fifth place to a comfortable third in the African Major Telcos league table - ahead of the likes of Orange and Airtel - and leaving it with just MTN and Vodafone/com stopping it from being Number 1 on the continent. To take top spot it just needs to double in size again...  


John Summers

Editor,   Africa & Middle East Telecom-Week Africa & Middle East Telecom Weekly News Briefing (free distribution)


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