There is tremendous opportunity in the data centre space in South Africa, particularly when it comes to distributed, smaller-scale deployments for businesses.
This is according to Schneider Electric, which said that renewed focus on server rooms in companies and similarly-sized “micro data centres” is being driven by the current trend towards edge computing and the Internet of Things.
Widespread adoption of the Internet brought with it cloud computing, enabling technologies in such as voice assistants and integrated online backups in mobile phones.
While many applications can benefit from cloud computing, this comes with drawbacks – such as latency and downtime when an Internet connection is not available. Latency – often referred to as “ping” – is the time it takes for a packet of data to travel from your computer, to another device on a network, and back again.
Typical latencies from South Africa to services in Europe can range between 160 milliseconds and 250 milliseconds. Connecting to a server in the United States may result in latencies of between 230 milliseconds and 400 milliseconds.
Moving computing of certain critical applications to the edge, however, such as to a server room located in an office or factory, addresses these drawbacks of cloud computing. Reducing the latency can then increase the performance of certain applications, and an Internet outage will not bring productivity to a halt.
Some applications that are bandwidth intensive, such as video streaming, benefit from the edge when they are closer to the users rather than in the cloud.
The rise of Internet of Things applications, where many sensors are all connected to a system which may need to respond quickly to those inputs, will also drive the adoption of edge computing, said Schneider Electric.
Data centre builds
As a result, Schneider Electric said that we will see an increase in data centre builds around the world, including South Africa. While the demand for large data centres will continue to grow, but there will also be a demand for smaller builds.
“Small data centres are becoming just as important, if not more important, than big data centres,” said the company.
Currently, smaller data centres are not paying much attention to the details of power distribution and cooling, but this is also changing as companies realise the benefits of making their loose-standing servers and racks more efficient.
All of this adds up to a huge opportunity, said Schneider Electric – not only in building and retro-fitting small data centres for companies, but also in managing them.
As the model of using smaller data centres distributed across an organisation starts becoming more important, management systems need to be designed to look after multiple facilities.
IT administrators and outsource IT management companies will need systems that can not only monitor a single data centre or server room, but ones that might be installed in remote locations.
This will be especially important in markets like South Africa, where the country is large and the population more dispersed, said Schneider Electric.
For more information, visit the Schneider Electric website.