Building the foundations of a connected Africa

on 14 July, 2015

As Africa moves swiftly to capitalise on ubiquitous mobile, virtualisation, cloud and even ‘foggy networking’ of the future, pressure is being put on the underlying networks needed to support these changes, says IP networking specialist 

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three6five CEO Tyrone Carroll says the company, a value-added reseller and IP networking service integrator now working with enterprises and carriers across 19 countries in Africa, has seen significant changes in the continent’s connectivity demands in its six years of operation.

“A few years back, a major problem across Africa was a lack of fibre in the ground and connectivity to countries abroad. Now there is a wider choice of undersea cables and major players are focusing on deploying fibre across the continent, which is changing the enterprise IT

“At the same time, big enterprises based in South Africa are pushing north and demanding the same business systems across the continent that they depend on back in South Africa. ISPs and telcos are moving to offer their customers more in terms of virtualisation and cloud services, and enterprises are rolling out their own virtualised networks. These changes mean pressure on underlying infrastructures,” he says. “The bandwidth demand keeps growing and the pipes just keep having to get bigger: you always need your ‘network plumbing’ to be able to cope and, where possible, be ‘smarter’.”

three6five is working with customers across the continent to build and upgrade networks to cope with these changing market demands. In doing so, there are unique constraints in Africa that must be taken into consideration, he says. “The market is relatively price-sensitive, while still requiring advanced technologies. There is also a lack of specialised networking skills to build and maintain these networks in many regions.”

Importantly, the power problem in many areas means networks must be rugged and resilient enough to handle the intermittent and often unstable power supply.

“For our customers, price, support, skills and stability have always been key network criteria,” says Carroll.

“For example, the routers and switches we use at data centres and POPs across the continent are supplied by Juniper Networks, which have the resiliency to handle the erratic power supply. We’ve deployed Juniper Networks gear across Africa and have had minimal hardware failures. This is crucial for our customers, because without the underlying network, the cloud is next to useless.

three6five has grown rapidly since its launch in 2009, by supplying the networks with support for the continent’s increasingly advanced connectivity needs. The company’s service is based on the support, skills transfer and – importantly – technologies appropriate to the job.

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