Cloud computing appears to be paying off in a big way for JSE-listed IT group Business Connexion (BCX), whose two new data centres in Midrand are attracting growing interest from corporate SA.
Now, as demand for cloud computing expands, BCX is looking to build a third facility in Cape Town to complement the two data centres it already operates (but doesn’t own) at Sanlam’s national head office in Bellville.
It’s expected to make a decision on a Cape Town data centre soon, says the company’s GM for cloud services, Johan van Huyssteen. The new site will be linked to the Sanlam facilities.
Cloud computing is Internet-based computing in terms of which shared resources, including software and infrastructure, are provided on demand.
The R260m Gauteng facilities, offering 3 000sq m of data centre space between them, have been developed to tier-4 specifications, meaning they’re among the most advanced data centres in the world as rated by the Uptime Institute.
The two sites, located 500m apart, are connected via fibre and workload is shared between them. The sites are connected with fibre to Dark Fibre Africa, Neotel, Telkom and Broadband Infraco. It also has two satellite transponders, which it uses in part to provide services to the rest of Africa and as a back-up to fibre links.
About two-thirds of the capacity in the two Gauteng data centres is already utilised, says Van Huyssteen.
The growth is being driven by demand from corporate SA for “private” cloud services, where companies can buy computing, storage, messaging and networking products as a network-based service without having to worry that their data is at risk of being compromised.
“We used to operate out of client data centres,” says Van Huyssteen. Most recently, BCX provided services to its clients from the JSE’s data centre in central Sandton.
After the September 2001 terrorist attacks in the US, however, clients became concerned about their servers being located at a facility that could be a potential target.
In 2005, BCX began construction of its own data centre facilities, creating two similar buildings 500m apart in the same office park in Midrand. “In 2006, the cost of connectivity between the two centres would have been R75m/year,” Van Huyssteen says. BCX constructed the facilities on the same property so as to avoid having to pay a telecommunications provider to link them together.
Van Huyssteen says BCX has no intention of offering public cloud services like those provided by the likes of Google and Microsoft. He says the company’s value proposition is in offering a secure, multi-tenanted cloud platform to large organisations.
But he says BCX may work with other companies to distribute content to consumers.
The company recently signed a partnership agreement with Limelight Networks, one of the world’s largest content distribution networks, which distributes content on behalf of firms such as Microsoft, Apple and Netflix. Limelight competes head-on with companies like Akamai.
The plan is that Windows and Mac OS X software updates, for example, will be served to SA Internet service providers on local bandwidth from local servers located in BCX’s data centres. — Duncan McLeod, TechCentral