Advancements in technology have caused the world to become a global village with a person, say Turkana, able to communicate with someone in New York in real time through the internet.
As a country, we have benefited immensely since the first fiber optic cable landed on our shores in 2009. For a country that relied on satellite internet to communicate, fiber has been a game-changer for young people, SMEs, private sector, government and institutions. Indeed, technicians were now able to create apps, some created businesses from the apps and this was followed by a remarkable revolution in mobile technology in Kenya.
At the time, new startups and companies were springing up, making Kenya one of the top contenders for the title of Silicon Savannah in Africa. Fiber internet has also led to the proliferation of tech hubs throughout the city and it is these hubs that have propelled the country to be a leader on the African continent when it comes to technology.
Since 2009, when the first cable landed on our shores, there have been at least 5 more cables entering the country, bringing the total number to six. The latest cable being the PEACE cable which landed earlier this year and is a partnership between Telkom and the PEACE Cable company. This cable is expected to bring faster and more stable communication services linking Africa, Europe and Asia.
With the entry of the various fiber optic cables in the country, this has had the advantage of reducing the cost of internet for the consumers. This has had the effect of increasing the number of Kenyans who are online, with reports indicating that smartphone penetration stands at 27.9 million according to the Communications Authority.
As the number of Kenyans on the online space increases, there has been a need for data centers to meet this demand. A data center is basically a building, a dedicated space within a building, or a group of buildings used to host computer systems and associated components, such as telecommunications and storage systems.
One of the companies offering data center services is icolo.io which has three data centers in the country so far. icolo.io began operations in the country in 2017 with its first data center located in Mirintini, Mombasa County. An increase in demand for their services led them to open the second appointment gallop in Nairobi. Earlier this year, they opened their latest data center in the Nyali suburb of Mombasa.
icolo.io essentially offers the infrastructure (electricity, space and cooling) that allows fiber submarine cable operators to be able to easily offload their capacity to local internet service providers, essentially acting as an intermediary. Additionally, to allow their customers to get as many options as possible, the data center is carrier-neutral. This means that when a customer decides to use their facility, they are able to give an option as to which submarine fiber optic cable to use. This ensures that a customer is able to obtain a supplier that matches their needs.
icolo’s new facility in Nyali is connected to four undersea fiber optic cables, meaning those who will be using the facility have more options to choose from, as opposed to a situation where a data center is owned to a specific operator. This means that a customer is able to get better services and prices which can then be passed on to their customers.
When running an online business, any downtime is a disaster for the business, which is why Nyali’s new data center promises 99.99% uptime to its customers. To do this, they have invested heavily in their power supply to ensure that there are no instances of downtime. As such they have a dedicated 11KV power line from Kenya Power and two backup generators as well as a state of the art UPS system.
Equipment is very expensive and any damage can be a huge setback for a business. Servers generally give off a lot of heat which, if not cooled enough, can cause damage. To make sure that doesn’t happen, icolo.io has invested heavily in a cooling system that operates at temperatures between 15 and 22 degrees, which is optimal for servers. A smart fire suppression system that uses inert gas ensures that all your equipment is safe at the center.
According to the management, they predict that the Nyali facility will be a key player in the data center scene in Kenya. The facility was apparently built based on forecasts of future demand and they expect more than 50 Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to be housed in the building in the future. This should go a long way in reducing the cost of internet in the country, because as the costs incurred by ISPs come down, they will be able to offer better services at lower costs.
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