DiData plans more investment in SA’s data centre market

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Kyle Stanton, go to market executive: intelligent infrastructure at Dimension Data.
Kyle Stanton, go to market executive: intelligent infrastructure at Dimension Data.

Systems integrator Dimension Data says it is looking to further invest in the data centre market, to expand its infrastructure, as the world sees Africa as the next economic frontier in the digital economy.

Dimension Data says that together with parent company NTT, it has ambitions to be a strong data centre player in SA and the rest of the continent, as it positions for increased demand for data centre capability, amid Africa’s cloud computing boom.

The companies operate 11 data centres with up to 10MW of IT load across Africa.

In September, Dimension Data announced it was preparing to launch a new data centre region in Johannesburg – the Johannesburg 1 Data Centre project, valued at R875 million.

The first phase of the project is expected to be completed by the end of the first quarter of 2022.

In an interview with ITWeb, Kyle Stanton, go to market executive: intelligent infrastructure at Dimension Data, noted that in the last year, the company has seen almost 40% increase in data traffic across its network in the Middle East and Africa region, as the ongoing digital transformation, coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic, accelerates data demand across Africa.

As both the data demand and cloud adoption continue to cause a surge in traffic, data centres will become increasingly important on the continent, and the systems integrator is planning to increase its market share in the sector, he pointed out.

“This first step [the Johannesburg 1 Data Centre] that we’ve taken is a significant step because it shows our intent to continue to invest in SA and in Africa, and in the data centre domain specifically.

“According to the African Data Centres Association, Africa needs 1 000MW and 700 data centre facilities to meet the growing demand and bring the rest of the continent onto level terms with the capacity and density of SA. People around the world see Africa as the next economic frontier and that means in the digital economy, we need data centres to support the digital assets and that economic growth.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the need for organisations to build resilience and agility, through a digital-focused business continuity and crisis planning strategy, he added.

Healthy competition

According to the 2021 Hybrid Cloud report compiled by Dimension Data, 53% of surveyed South African companies are already using or piloting hybrid cloud, as the pandemic has forced a cultural mind-set shift in organisations’ reliance on digital technologies.

The growth in Africa’s cloud sector is also leading to more international players choosing to invest in the market, according to Stanton.

“We believe that hybrid cloud is the strategy that many corporates will take as far as their cloud journey is concerned. This is because not all organisations are ready to move everything into the hyperscalers or into a one-size-fits-all model. So, in future, organisations are going to have an environment that is hybrid in nature, and tactically, global data centre providers are experts in this field.”

Stanton believes SA, which has the fastest growing data centre market on the continent and the most capacity to serve the rising demand in traffic, also has the best connectivity and infrastructure to serve the Sub-Saharan Africa market.

As more companies make the hybrid cloud shift, this increased dependence makes SA’s data centre market an important one to Africa’s digital economy.

“Hyperscale cloud providers in SA started off with one cloud edge node in 2016, which increased to 17 full-feature data centres in 2020. Hyperscale players will drive future demand in Africa, as they see the opportunity to serve the capacity needed to meet the data growth.

“Together with the new Johannesburg 1 Data Centre, the NTT data centre platform will provide more than 20MW of IT load capacity in Africa, driven by clients’ strong need for robust co-location infrastructure across the continent. This will enable Dimension Data to meet the increasing requirements of its clients across the continent and the Middle East.”

While there is increasing competition in the local data centre space, Stanton noted this is healthy for the market and allows more participation in the globally connected economy, by helping to build strong and innovative businesses.

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