Op-Ed: Are data centers in East Africa ready for digital demands?

Carol Koech. Country President, Schneider Electric East Africa.

By Carol Koech. Country President, Schneider Electric East Africa.

NAIROBI, KENYA, KENYA, July 19, 2021 /EINPresswire.com/ – Last year was different for many obvious reasons. But one habit that hasn’t changed is our need for and use of everything digital. The pandemic has accelerated our use of digital channels, both as individuals and as businesses. We’re using more streaming services, increasing our time on social media, chatting on Zoom and Teams, and using online platforms to learn.

All of these activities depend on our data centers. These spaces, which house a great deal of computing and storage power, are the utilities of today. They are as essential as our roads and our hospitals. And we need to ask ourselves if we have the infrastructure to ensure that data will continue to flow.

Data centers are used more than ever. For example, the world’s largest internet clearinghouse, DE-CIX Frankfurt, saw an average increase in data traffic of 10% at the start of March last year as people started staying at their home. Our shift to video conferencing, which has seen triple-digit growth, is another example of changing habits and the need to understand how our use of data will affect our data centers.

Our demand for faster speeds and better connectivity is not going to diminish. The good news is that data center spending is on the rise; Gartner estimates that end-user spending on global data center infrastructure is expected to reach US $ 200 billion in 2021, up 6% from 2020. The landscape in East Africa is no different . In Kenya for example, the country has a total number of 43.7 million Internet / data subscriptions according to the Communication Authority of Kenya; This, coupled with the country’s young demographics, means that demand for data will increase rapidly, requiring more data centers. And we can already see investments in this space.

We have a time to plan how best to design and build data centers to make them future-ready, more energy efficient, and more sustainable. Sustainability is important, given the power consumption of data centers (up to 3% worldwide) and the energy savings that an efficient data center can achieve.

So how do you build a future-ready data center? There are four things we need to keep in mind to make sure that our data centers are able to keep up with our demands for data.

Let’s start with the Time-to-market. Data centers can take years to build, and we don’t have time to waste. But there are steps we can take to reduce time to market. First, consider efficient, modular, pod, or row data center solutions. One idea is to design your pod data center to your specific needs, place your pod enclosure on site, and integrate your IT rack and equipment setup into it. You can add pod data centers quickly and incrementally at a lower cost compared to a full installation.

The second problem to be tackled is that of people. We are faced with a talent problem; there is a shortage of data center professionals, both regionally and globally. But there are steps you can take to minimize this. Data center owners can improve staff efficiency by augmenting data center teams with more digital services and management software, which can monitor and optimize performance in real time. Cloud-based digital services and management software can accelerate diagnostics and reduce costs while providing the visibility and tools needed to improve operational and process efficiency. When combined, business software and digital services deliver efficiencies not only at the device level, but also at the people level by streamlining processes.

Now let’s talk about capital expenditures. Data centers require significant investments, both for construction and for modernization. There are ways to reduce the upfront costs. For example, smart data center owners are looking for modular and scalable uninterruptible power supplies (UPS). A scalable UPS architecture enables data center operators to take a pay-as-you-grow approach, investing in additional power capacity only when needed and avoiding a scenario where a costly initial oversizing is necessary to meet perceived long-term growth needs.

New technologies are also helping to reduce the cost of ownership. One exciting development is lithium-ion technology. Lithium-ion batteries have a real life expectancy of 10 to 15 years. They are small, lightweight, and easy to install in multiple orientations. Lithium-ion batteries are indifferent to extreme temperatures and produce unlimited deep discharges; they thrive during power fluctuations, brownouts, and power outages. Their use will drastically reduce the total cost of ownership.

Finally, let’s talk about the design process. Digital design tools that use common reference designs that consider materials, costs, and performance characteristics can reduce both the need and the costs associated with modifying or changing a data center. These tools use proven designs that will reduce risk while helping to optimize data center operations. Reference designs standardize equipment across all facilities, allowing staff to work seamlessly across all sites. Companies like us are also happy to share thousands of reference models with their customers.

We are in a unique situation, where the pandemic has underscored our total reliance on data. Data centers are as important to us as any other fundamental service. But, like any other utility, we need to plan ahead to make sure we have the capacity to meet our current and future needs. Let’s work smart and ensure that we have the capacity of the regional data center to fuel our economic growth and allow us to share our messages with our loved ones.

About the Author

Carol Koech is Managing Director of Schneider Electric East Africa. She is responsible for driving the company’s vision for growth in the region through its Building, Data Center, Industry and Access to Energy business portfolio. Carol has over 15 years of professional experience leading operations in Sub-Saharan Africa, ranging from finance to project development, engineering and business development. She understands the challenge of digital transformation in the region and looks forward to driving innovation and growth in this digital age. For more information, visit https://www.se.com/en/.

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This press release is posted via AfricaNewswire.net (www.africanewswire.net) – a news wire service with distribution of press releases to media in Africa. For a full press release, go to https://africanewswire.net/op-ed-are-data-centers-in-east-africa-ready-for-digital-demands/

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