Eskom gives Cape Town data centre opportunities


South Africa is looking to join the international trend of companies outsourcing their infrastructure to data centres

But because guaranteed “uptime” is one of the key selling features of data centres, Eskom’s power crisis has surprisingly given South African – and particularly Cape Town – companies fresh motivation to compete internationally and bring in business.

“If you look at international trends, in the US, 30% of data centre space is outsourced, and in the UK, up to 40%. In South Africa, we’re only at about 10%. But because of power problems, which those other countries don’t have as badly as we do, we may be headed towards 50% being outsourced,” Lex van Wyk, CEO of Teraco, a South African independent data centre operator, told Business Times.

The major South African data centres that offer outsourced services are run by Telkom, Vodacom, MTN, Neotel, BCX, IS and Teraco.

South Africa has about 37,000m² of capacity in these outsourced centres, and about 6,000m² is still available for hire.

According to Van Wyk, well over half the available space — 3500m² — is lying unused in Cape Town, with only 2,500m² capacity available in Johannesburg.

“About five or six years ago we saw Cape Town preparing for what they thought would be a big influx of new businesses,” van Wyk says.

As a result, Neotel built 1,000m² that is now standing relatively empty, Telkom expanded its Cybernest data centre, which now has more than 1,000m² available in Bellville, and Vodacom is also believed to have about 1,000m² empty.

“They were correct that many people were moving to Cape Town and starting new businesses, but these businesses didn’t need as much space as they do in Johannesburg.”

A business opportunity that has arisen from this venture is infrastructure development.

“When [these data centres] were first built, most of these were not constructed to the specifications of an outsourced data centre. They get a small generator and try to keep everything up and running. Today, that approach just doesn’t work anymore.”

“At the moment, many large companies and IT multinationals have ‘insourced’ data centres in South Africa that they manage themselves. There is huge combined capacity: more than 300,000m². But insourced will eventually go outsourced, for two reasons: availability and power. It’s becoming more and more complex to manage 100% availability when you have inconsistent power supply,” van Wyk syas.


By: Kristy Jooste

Source: Business Times