News Column

Addressing Big Data Challenges With Tier-III Centres

June 26, 2014

Emma Okonji

MainOne's Tier-III commercial data centre will serve as a hub in addressing the challenges of big data on the back of global ICT expansion.

With the advancement in information technology, and the evolution of new technologies such as mobile data, the world has entered into the information age, where virtually every operation is transacted online, using electronic devices driven by various software applications (Apps).

The era has led to the exponential growth in data storage capacity of organisations, leading to big data challenges. Based on the continuous growth and expansion trajectory, most organisations are finding it extremely difficult to manage their expanded data capacity and still maintain reliability and efficiency of their data centre operations.

In order to address these big data challenges, service providers are beginning to build commercial data centres, which could be rated Tier-I, Tier-II, Tier-III or Tier-IV, designed to manage large data stores with varying levels of reliability.

Such data centers are increasingly built to house data in a location away from the company's premises, providing connectivity and access to staff and customers that require access from any location at any time of the day.

In Nigeria to date, there are pockets of service providers, providing data services to organisations, using Tiers-I and II data centres, which come with their own challenges of downtime and reliability.

In order to address the challenges associated with the availability of data and to also manage the expanding Information and Communications Technology (ICT) needs of organisations in Nigeria and other West African countries, MainOne, a telecoms services solutions provider is building a Tier-III commercial data centre in Lagos.

The Tier-III data centre project, which is being built in compliance with world-class specifications in terms of reliability, availability, power and cooling, should be completed by the fourth quarter of this year.

When completed, it will become the largest Tier III data centre in the whole of West Africa; designed to house more rack spaces than ever.

The new commercial data centre is an expansion of the company's existing data centre in Lagos, which is already hosting data of big and small organisations in the Financial and Telecoms sector.

Speaking at a recent media facility tour of the site, MainOne's Chief Executive Officer, Ms Funke Opeke, said: "The project is over 70 per cent completed. It is being constructed to meet the rapidly growing demands for managed computing and network services in Africa.

In addition to offering a superior solution to housing data, the facility also has direct access to MainOne's network platform including its metro and international fiber, Internet backbone, as well as interconnection with all the major networks in Nigeria."

Economic and operational benefits In technical parlance, a data centre is an infrastructure, built to house the computing operating systems of an organisation. For it to function well, it requires power, cooling and high level of reliability.

It is a commercial computer room that is able to house all the shared computational devices and operations of major Corporations such as banks, oil and gas companies, and telecommunications companies, among others.

It allows access and connectivity from these systems to the Internet for online transactions. It saves companies and operators the cost of building dedicated data centres to run their individual operations. The commercial data centre being built by MainOne, will house data of various organisations, and allow their operations to be accessed online 24/7, with high reliability and availability.

"The Tier III commercial data centre that we are building will help improve the ability of organisations to move their key business processes online as well as accelerate the evolution of Nigeria into a digital economy," Opeke said.

"Access to bundled data centre services and connectivity solutions from a trusted provider ensures that organisations save capital costs that would have been required to build and maintain dedicated data centre facilities."

Industry stakeholders said the facility would meet rigorous availability standards, and would offer highly secured and reliable multiple layers of redundancy on all critical electrical and mechanical components to guarantee continuous access/uptime to hosted critical applications and data.

For companies to get the same quality of a Tier-III data centre, they have to spend a lot of money, but with access to the commercial data centre from MainOne, organisations do not need to spend that kind of money for hosting their data.

All they need do is to bring their systems and data to the data centre for hosting and connectivity.

While a typical company may only need 10 - 40 racks to manage their entire data, it is a mere waste of money for each company to begin to invest in data centre infrastructure, and for this reason they can host their data with us, save a lot of money and concentrate on their core business, Opeke said.

Between tiers-I, II and III data centres Explaining the Tier classifications of data centres, General Manager, Capital Projects for MainOne, Mr. Gbenga Adegbiji, said the Tier-I data centre referred to a conventional computer room facilities that has no redundant capacity components with no redundant distribution path serving the computer equipment while Tier-II has redundant components but no redundant distribution paths to the computer equipment.

He further explained that the Tier III data centre has concurrent maintainable site infrastructure that provides overall minimum availability of up to 99.982 per cent.

He noted that the MainOne data centre comes with fault tolerant dual power systems that guarantee availability of 99.998 per cent and customers will have connectivity through the MainOne optic fibre ring networks, which makes it adequate for online real time business.

Importance of metro fibre to data centre MainOne already has a metro fiber network connecting most parts of Lagos. The metro fibre therefore allows the data centre to serve customers allover Lagos and provide the connectivity they need.

MainOne explained that it has over 300km metro fibre ring around Lagos alone, with plans to expand it beyond those locations and cities across Nigeria.

Most telecoms operators have since understood the importance of metro fibre links and are currently building one across the country. Globacom, MTN, and Airtel already have metro fibre links that connect their telecoms subscribers for voice and data services.

With the rollout of MainOne's Lagos metro fiber network and the planned launch of its data centre in the fourth quarter of 2014, MainOne said it remained focused on taking the lead in the provision of broadband communication services to large corporates, e-commerce providers, government agencies and educational institutions in Nigeria.

Security Passionate in providing high security for its service offerings, MainOne said its upcoming data centre would come with different layers of security built into the system.

"Our present data centre has no security issues for four years running and we hope to extend same to the Tier III commercial data centre. Apart from physical security, every corner of the building will have biometric access control and there will be CCTV cameras installed all over the building.

"Our current data centre is designed in such that only authorized personnel have access to the data centre and the racks, which makes it difficult for unauthorized persons to gain entry into our data centre, including unauthorized staff," Opeke said.

The systems are also designed with software and network firewall security that does not allow unauthorized staff to gain access into the systems.

Planned completion date and cost Putting finishing touches to physical structure of the data centre, Opeke said the Tier III commercial data centre was getting ready for completion and launch.

According to her, the facility would be completed by the fourth quarter of the year and it is expected to gulp N4 billion to complete the physical structure and another NIII billion to purchase and install all facilities required to fully populate the facility with equipment.

Providing cloud computing services When completed, Opeke said the new data centre could provide a path for customers to migrate to cloud computing services, where data of organisations could be stored and accessed from a private or public cloud.

"The next stage is for us to manage the data of organisations on the cloud and we plan to provide both public and private cloud computing.

"We can also provide storage as a service (SaaS) whereby we provide data storage capacity as a service for organisations. We can also host online content of organisations and make it available to customers for access over the Internet, Opeke said.

With the exponential ICT growth of most organisations, the MainOne data centre, coupled with existing data centres from other organisations, is a welcome development in a country like Nigeria.

For more stories covering the world of technology, please see HispanicBusiness' Tech Channel

Source: AllAfrica

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