4 Nov 2016

Data Centre Solutions for the Angolan IT and Telco Sectors - A Flexenclosure Case Study

There is set to be a 10 fold increase in mobile data traffic and around 540 million smart phones on the African continent by 2020. The lowering cost of smartphone handsets, coupled with the rise in new mobile innovations and offerings centering around the African consumer is leading to a data boom in 'Digital Africa'. IT and Telecommunication operators on the continent are looking to cost effective and swiftly built data centre solutions to cope with this surge.

Enter Flexenclosure, the designer and manufacturer of prefabricated modular data centres and intelligent power management solutions. Their data centres have been successfully deployed in a number of key regions, stretching from Mozambique to the Cote d'Ivoire.

In this case study, we take a look at one of their most recent projects, a Flexenclosure eCentre for Angola Comunicações e Sistemas (ACS) in Luanda, which has recently been announced as a finalist for the DCD EMEA Modular Data Centre Award.


Angola Comunicações e Sistemas (ACS) is one of Angola’s leading providers of IT solutions and corporate network connectivity. Its core business is the provision of private networks and hosted data and Internet services – via both satellite and broadband wireless technologies – for public sector and enterprise customers, with a key focus on the banking sector.

With its business rapidly expanding, ACS was fast outgrowing its main data centre facility in the centre of the Angolan capital Luanda. But not only was it too small, its antiquated construction made it unsuitable to house highly sensitive ICT equipment.
Further, the construction of many larger buildings around it was causing line of sight problems for their VSAT antennae – a significant issue with many of ACS’ corporate banking clients relying on ACS for mission critical VSAT services.

The solution would require ACS to move its entire operation to an entirely new facility that would serve as a high-redundancy hub for both fibre and satellite communication; that would bring enhanced security for banking transactions and data traffic; and that would enable ACS to plan for long-term business and data colocation service expansion without the need to relocate again in the foreseeable future.

The Challenge

ACS identified a large green-field site in Benfica – the rapidly expanding new business and commercial area of Luanda – at which to establish their new data centre facility.

However, while ideal in terms of space, the site had absolutely no existing infrastructure – water, power, telecoms connectivity, not even a road to get to it. In fact, before any building could begin, the soil itself would need to be improved in order to give it adequate load bearing capability.

These challenges were compounded by the fact that high quality materials, tools and expertise were all in very short supply locally. And the site’s somewhat remote location meant that security would be a major concern – both during construction of the facility and on-going once it was complete and fully operational.

And ACS wanted the facility to be manned 24/7, therefore requiring not only the data centre white space but also a full network operations centre (NOC), office space and associated facilities to be available for its staff.

The Solution

Flexenclosure’s prefabricated eCentre data centre was selected as the ideal solution.

  • A detailed design study was first carried out to make sure that the facility would meet ACS’ needs both immediately and for the future. Flexenclosure then took on ownership of the project as a full turnkey operation including not only the data centre but also the entire site, including the civil works, telecom tower, VSAT farm, NOC, office space, personnel facilities and site infrastructure.
  • Security is state-of-the-art, with a guardhouse and perimeter laser detection system securing entry to the site. Active PTZ CCTV cameras monitor the entire facility while entry to the data centre, NOC and office space is controlled by an advanced biometric access system.
  • The DCIM system provides real-time monitoring of all critical systems including generators, fuel, cooling, UPS, switchgear, fire suppression and alarm systems, enabling early detection and fast resolution of any technical issues. And the racks are also fully monitored with sensors on their front and rear doors logging every time the servers are accessed.
  • The tiered NOC includes a video wall allowing all systems to be visually monitored simultaneously. Office space, a reception area, kitchen and bathroom facilities allow the site to be staffed in comfort 24/7.
  • There is no single point of failure with fully redundant and highly energy efficient power systems securing network uptime for mission critical financial services.
  • And with the 880sqm floor space 1.25MW data centre designed to sit effortlessly within a beautifully landscaped site, the result is a facility that will secure ACS’s future as a leading player in the Angolan ICT services market.

You can download the full case study here.

If  you're interested in the rise Big Data in Africa, why not attend the continent's largest tech and telco event - AfricaCom.

AfricaCom is taking place between the 14th - 18th November at the Cape Town ICC, find out more here.

You can sign up for a free visitor pass to the event here or can book your silver, gold and platinum AfricaCom tickets to all sessions here.


Flexenclosure will be exhibiting at this year's event and you can find out more about their eCentres and eSites at exhibition stand D30.

They will also be delivering a major announcement at the AfricaCom press conference to the continent's media on Tuesday 15th November at 12pm. 

Be part of the African tech and telco conversation, here:

1 Nov 2016

Convenience 2.0 - The Platform for Life

By Mark CaseyDeloitte Global Media & Entertainment Leader

Recently, I’ve been thinking about the apps ecosystem—good, bad and ugly. For many countries with consistent access to internet connectivity, access to the digital world via smartphones and other screens has, ironically, created an enormous amount of fragmentation. 

The online world, via apps, should be as easy for us as breathing in and out, but in reality, there’s a clunkiness to the internet. Despite a few isolated (and largely unsuccessful) efforts, there are no apps that aggregate the most common activities we engage in via smartphone, including: navigation, casual communication, dining out, ride-sharing services, payment, filmed entertainment, and the like.

Across companies in many countries, we’ve had a race for dominance; a land grab for a single service (or small set of closely related services). And although there’s significant investment in these types of companies, especially at the startup level, I fear that in the long run, customers simply will not care enough to become loyal to any particular app or service. In effect, companies are asking, “Are there enough nails to hold this building together?” while customers instead are thinking at a different level: “Does this building have all the comforts that would make me want to live here?”

I’ve been particularly interested lately in a major service/app from China, which is detailed beautifully in a New York Times video. Clearly, the closed nature of the internet in China has offered certain advantages, but it’s entirely possible for companies in other countries to mimic this model, assuming they stop thinking about individual services and about a holistic customer experience - a “platform for life.”

In short, I predict that companies that are one-trick ponies won’t survive on their own. With strong investments and patience, companies that will succeed in the long term will focus on a seamless convenience for customers. This extends even beyond apps and to the larger content and service ecosystem, for example: customers want to sit in front of any screen (smartphone, tablet, TV) and access whatever entertainment content they want from a single interface. As another example, many of us have experienced the frustration of wanting to see a particular TV series or film, only to discover that it’s not available on the set of individual services to which we’ve subscribed. 

So, take this as a wake-up call to media companies of all stripes: make strong alliances and smart moves that offer customers a single interface for everything they do. If you’re going to own the customer of the future, you’ll have to create superaggregation. Become the platform for life. It’s not easy, but as the example from China has shown us, it’s possible.

About Deloitte:

Deloitte is a proud sponsor of the LeadersIn Africa Summit at AfricaCom 2016 – a meeting place for those driving Africa’s digital transformation. At LeadersIn Africa, Deloitte Global Media & Entertainment leader, Mark Casey, will be facilitating a Think Tank session on New Business Models – engaging with leaders in the telco sector on how to innovate business models to remain relevant and compete in digital Africa. Deloitte Africa Telecommunications Leader, Arun Babu will be moderating a discussion at 9am on 16 November, on new opportunities in Africa’s vibrant and rapidly converging telecoms, media and technology industries.

If you would like to find out more about AfricaCom 2016, taking place between the 14th - 18th November 2016, please click here.

You can sign up for a free visitor pass to the event here or can book your silver, gold and platinum AfricaCom tickets to all sessions here.

About the author:

Mark Casey
Deloitte Global Media & Entertainment Leader
Email: mcasey@deloitte.co.za

Be part of the African tech and telco conversation, here:

31 Oct 2016

African LTE adoption will quickly be followed by soaring IoT applications – is your network ready?

By Inna Ott - Director of Marketing, Polystar

Across Africa, LTE subscriptions are surging ahead, bringing the benefits of mobile broadband access to millions of new customers each year. 

According to Ericsson’s forecast for Sub-Saharan Africa, LTE subscriptions are expected to reach 20% of the total user base – which is itself growing rapidly, driven by new subscriptions, as well as uptake of other technologies, including WCDMA [1].

This is great news for the continent – and the situation is likely to evolve considerably, as operators extend their investments through the additional deployment of VoLTE services. Already, as Ericsson reports, more than 30 operators have launched LTE in the region, with many more expected to come. As a result, we can expect that VoLTE will swiftly follow.

"Higher speed access will unlock a range of new services that differ from the core template"

This creates an interesting situation. On the one hand, the classical mix of voice, data and messaging services can be expected to thrive, with more users, more subscriptions and more devices. On the other, new, higher speed access will unlock a range of new services that differ from the core template. Such services will include a growing range of IoT and M2M applications, enabled by high speed mobile connectivity and better overall coverage. Operators need to be able to ensure that existing services perform as the user expects, while also preparing to support a host of unknown new services.

As a result, operators need to consider two key points. First, how will they obtain the service visibility they need to deliver the right level of customer experience, across a diverse network base (combining legacy and LTE technologies) that will evolve further as VoLTE is added to the mix? Second, how will they simultaneously obtain the same level of visibility for new services which may have very different performance benchmarks and requirements from those to which they are accustomed?

"IoT applications offer the promise of new revenue streams and an expanded addressable market"

IoT applications offer the promise of new revenue streams and an expanded addressable market but present new challenges. While KPIs and benchmarks for classical services, such as voice are well understood, those for new IoT services and applications may, as yet, be unknown. Some services will have minimal network demands – for example, the transfer of simple sensor measurements or location positioning from remote devices – while others, for which LTE provides the requisite infrastructure, will be more complex. 

These will include new applications to address key verticals, such as remote healthcare monitoring, or will enable the delivery of extended educational programmes, for example. At the moment, we don’t know what all of these services will be, but we can safely say that there will be many of them and that there will be a burst of innovation, as people both bring existing services to the region from elsewhere and also as people within the region find local solutions for their unique needs and challenges. 

"How do you deliver and maintain the network uptime and service quality that a wide - and growing - range of IoT applications will require?"

All of which takes us back to the second point we noted. How do you deliver and maintain the network uptime and service quality that a wide - and growing - range of IoT applications will require? Can mobile networks handle the volume of devices that may be deployed by each customer? Can operators ensure that their networks meet highly variable or even volatile quality of service demands?

So, LTE both adds to the existing network complexity while, at the same time, providing a platform for future innovation, particularly for IoT applications. In this context, it’s essential that operators take the necessary steps to prepare for a flood of new traffic, from a wide range of different sources. They need to adapt, so that they can obtain the visibility of service performance necessary to ensure that they deliver the right customer experiences, whether to a person or whether for a device servicing an application. In short, they need a continuous, real-time stream of insights derived from all network data in order to assure both overall and application-level performance. 

"As Africa moves to embrace LTE and to embark on the IoT revolution, operators need to be sure that they have the appropriate tools in place"

This means that there will be a wide range of internal users of such information. It’s no longer sufficient to provide rich data only to network operations teams. Other departments and groups must be able to view and act on insights gathered from the network. This means that operators need systems and solution in place to both collect and then filter data in a way that is appropriate to the needs of each relevant user.

That’s quite a challenge, but there are already solutions available that can meet this goal, serving both classical services, irrespective of the network on which they are delivered, as well as new and emerging IoT services. As Africa moves to embrace LTE and to embark on the IoT revolution, operators need to be sure that they have the appropriate tools in place to support both this transition as well as the next phase of network evolution. Are you ready?

About Polystar:

Meet POLYSTAR at AfricaCom, Stand B37, to discuss how we can help you solve your operational challenges.

Book your meeting with the Polystar team, by contacting us at marketing@polystar.com 

About the writer:

Inna Ott has more than 15 year's experience in the communications industry. Prior to joining Polystar, she held a number of sales and marketing positions in leading organisations. Since 2013 Inna has been leading Polystar’s marketing department, with responsibility for Global Marketing and Corporate Communications. Inna’s primary focus is to drive increased global demand for Polystar’s solutions, by growing the visibility, recognition and awareness of Polystar’s brand.

If you are interested in how LTE technology is evolving telecommunications on the African continent, why not attend AfricaCom 2016?

Africa's biggest tech and telco event is taking place between the 14th - 18th November at the Cape Town ICC, find out more here.

You can sign up for a free visitor pass to the event here or can book your silver, gold and platinum AfricaCom tickets to all sessions here.

Be part of the African tech and telco conversation, here: