2019 EXPANSION

Nigeria 2019 | TELECOMS & IT | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Tunde Coker, Managing Director of Rack Centre, on competition, outsourcing, and data centres.

What is the competitive advantage of Rack Centre?

There are a few aspects to Rack Centre's competitive advantage. Carrier or Network neutrality and comprehensive interconnectivity; Rack Centre is the leading network-neutral data centre in West Africa. Network, or carrier neutral companies are not owned by any one carrier or internet service provider but instead can build multi-carrier ecosystems where carriers can coexist and interact, and customers have seamless access to all the carriers. All the undersea cables serving the Atlantic coast are directly connected to Rack Centre, so, every country on the Atlantic coast of Africa is directly connected to Rack Centre. The Internet Exchange Point of Nigeria operates within Rack Centre, as does the regional internet exchange point for West Africa, under a mandate from the Africa Union. This ensures Internet traffic is localised in Nigeria or within West Africa as required, significantly enhancing the performance of the Internet. Nigeria's geophysical location is an advantage, because it is halfway in terms of the latency of data traffic between South Africa and Europe. It is a fantastic location for connecting Africa and Nigeria to the world. Quality and reliability; since its launch in October 2013, Rack Centre has operated with 100% uptime, with not a second of downtime. Rack Centre was the first Carrier Neutral Data Centre in Africa to be Tier III Constructed Facility Certified by the Uptime Institute, the global authority on data centre quality. This intrinsic quality has also been acknowledged by the wide range of international awards and accolades Rack Centre has received, so our customers can rest, assured of the quality of hosting. Indeed, I was recognised with the Africa Trailblazer Award by the Uptime Institute in July 2018. Cloud services; we now offer major Cloud platforms in the Rack Centre 'Cloud on Ground' ecosystem. This means customers can host data locally in Nigeria, while enjoying the benefits of leading Cloud platforms operating from Rack Centre, ensuring companies meet local data hosting requirements, while enjoying the benefits of world-class Cloud services.

What are the benefits of co-locating and outsourcing infrastructure?

The data centre underpins the reliability of IT systems and if the hosting facility is down, either in house or outsourced, then the business is down, with significant negative or catastrophic reputational, financial and customer experience impact. It is therefore essential to have reliable hosting. Through colocation, companies can expend scarce capital on core business and earning assets. Imagine not having to think about your data centre power 24/7 and being able to focus time and capital on running and expanding the core business. We are now seeing that the most successful companies outsource and are discerning by outsourcing to reputable reliable providers. With our comprehensive interconnectivity, companies that host at Rack Centre can save up to 30% on their networking costs as our clients have access to the ecosystem of interconnection. A company can go live quickly and can scale up or down in an elastic manner. Imagine having to wait 18 months for your data centre to be built or expanded before you can grow your company? Your competitors that are outsources leave you standing. That is why the most agile companies outsource to high quality providers. Lastly, peace of mind, focusing on core business knowing that their core critical IT assets are in the best place at assessed global standards. Our intention is to have a footprint across Nigeria and Sub-Saharan Africa.

How have businesses in Nigeria embraced the concept of data centres?

It has been quite a journey and a challenge to raise awareness, and it takes time to build the reputation of trust and efficiency. That I believe is by and large achieved, and Rack Centre's reputation is now not just Nigerian or African, but global. We are now a leading globally recognised brand located in Africa. Some in the past elected to host abroad due to the absence of local world class quality, and this has now changed. We now also have the competitive environment as businesses are increasingly driven and dependent on efficient and reliable IT. We now have the top banks in the country and pan-African banks hosting here, as well as all the leading telecommunication companies hosted, and/or, connected. Companies are now leveraging the benefits of Cloud services. With our increasing ecosystem of leading global Cloud platforms and services hosted in Rack Centre, it is now possible to exploit these services within the country. This will become a significant growth area, in particular for the professions SMEs, such as accountancy firms, architects, hospitals, educational establishments, etc. You can pay as you grow for these services. Businesses in Nigeria are now embracing outsourcing hosting and leveraging Cloud services locally. This is bound to increase with enforcement of sovereign data laws where country data must be hosted locally.

How would you assess the data centre space in Nigeria?

The market is at an inflexion point of significant growth. To date, the availability and demand has just not been in line with the size of the economy; but that is now changing. Technology is playing an increasingly strong role in the economy as a direct proportion of GDP, and even more significantly the indirect impact on the larger proportion of GDP. The key players in the market will have to rapidly expand capacity to generate and also meet demand; we certainly will. We will deliver multiple high-quality locations in the market over the next few years. We assessed the market capacity pessimistically to be 45MW of IT power demand a couple of years ago. We are serving only less than 10% of that potential capacity with currently installed capacity. 2019 should be the tipping point year for significant growth as the Nigerian economy needs it.

What do you expect for the Rack Centre in 2019?

We are expanding, and 2019 will be an exciting and busy year for us because of the strong trajectory toward our strategic capacity plan. We will double our capacity, and then commence the doubling of that capacity again. Our customers want us in multiple locations for disaster recovery, and we will do that in Lagos and elsewhere in the country. We also have growth to other African countries in our expansion plans.