By 21 June 2023 | Categories: feature articles


Sabelo Mabena, Executive Head of Products and Services at Vodacom discusses the rising importance of outsourced data centres in Africa and what to look out for when choosing a partner in the face of the continued power crisis and other challenges.

Businesses and consumers are dealing with the effect of the worst recession since World War 2. While the market has seen record recovery since 2021, markets with slower growth rate, such as Africa have felt the impact of the slow recovery acutely than others. The situation is unlikely to change as the IMF forecast global growth will fall to just 2.9% in 2023, nearly a full point lower than the historical average.

The effects this has been compounded world conflict, supply chain issues and a power crisis. While the economic meltdown has been felt across the world, in South Africa,  Corporates and SMEs in particular are facing continuously struggled to keep their doors open and remain competitive in a digital market amidst these hurdles and the more local power challenges.

SMEs are critical to the success of the South African economy, contributing 34% of the national GDP and directly responsible for a large portion of total employment. It is crucial that this group have a reliable partner to turn to in these uncertain economic times.

Outsourced data centres are one solution that help SMEs remain agile and grow, but have often been viewed as complex, costly, and come with their own set of challenges. As a trusted partner of SMEs, Vodacom Business wants to turn these problems into empowering possibilities by offering an outsourced data centre solution that overcome these challenges.

About the Vodacom Datacentre

Vodacom Data Centers are Telco-grade, “As built” Tier 3 certified that offer reliable power, cooling, surge protection, and connectivity. Developing and operating across its global footprint, Vodacom has evolved data center design in innovative ways to deliver the much needed gains in reliability, efficiency and sustainability in flexible environments that are able to meet our market demands.

Some of the compelling reasons why we encourage businesses to partner with Vodacom as a trusted data centre partner include:

SLA Meet: Guaranteed Up Time

At the epicentre of why outsourced data centres are so important in South Africa at the moment is the power or general energy crisis. Other than adding additional fuel costs to businesses monthly bills, the power crisis means higher risk of down time for businesses with on premises facilities due to surges damaging equipment or back up supply failures. For some, even a few minutes of downtime means significant loss of revenue.

Vodacom has invested in comprehensive contingency plans to ensure continued uptime during extended loadshedding and protection from surges. Our two stage back up power system consists of both UPS and generator backup and is supported by a reliable diesel and battery supply and partner agreements. We also have extensive water reservoirs to maintain cooling systems. Our infrastructure and partner agreement allow us to maintain or 99% uptime SLA guarantee during extended power outages.

Helping Create Cost Effectiveness

On-premise data centres are becoming extremely expensive to run in South Africa. The cost of diesel needed to run generators and expenses associated with the continual maintenance of hardware have increased significantly and added to ongoing security and housing costs. One of the key benefits of outsourcing your data centre is outsourcing maintenance costs.

It is the responsibility of your provider to ensure your hardware is safe and in working order. However, power costs are usually bundled to include both municipal and those associated with backup supplies such as diesel. Most Datacentre providers would ordinarily pass the new cost to the consumer or end customer.

Doing so results in very high power costs, something which Vodacom avoids in our data centres. Recognising the pressure unstable power supply already exerts on businesses, Vodacom made the decision to absorb all costs associated with backup power – passing on only a client’s municipal power bills. This was done in an attempt to help business and SMEs alike to manage the running operations for anything IT related so that they can continue to stimulate the economy.

A Trusted, Certified Partner

The process of certifying a data centre facility is complex and involves several parties. For those looking to invest in a data centre solution, the most important thing to understand is the tier certifications. Operationally Tier 3 is the most recommended and Tier 4 being the highest level of performance*.

As would be expected, the costs associated with a data centre tend to depend on the certification level it holds, amongst other things. Generally, Tier 3 and 4 are considered the industry standard, offering 99.9% SLA certifications. There is, however, an unfortunate loophole in the certification process which allows Data centre providers to have a tier 4 design certified, only to build a tier 3 data centre. This allows providers to charge customers higher prices.

This is not the case with Vodacom Business data centres. Having surpassed the need to certify each facility, we are able to provide an “as built” industry standard, career grade type facility all of which offer 99.9% uptime and a lower PUE. These facilities are considered tier 3 meaning you get optimal performance at lower prices. 

Reliable Disaster Recovery

As the value of data has grown to a point where business cannot function without access, disaster recovery is no longer an option for businesses but a must. Even those who would still like to keep the majority of their hardware on premise, the rising prominence of data-related cybercrime and threat of lost data due to power outages make an offsite recovery facility imperative.

Vodacom can offer all important geo-redundancy to clients thanks to our facilities positioned across the country. This is an important factor to consider and can make a marked difference in an emergency situation.

Keeping your Entire Network Secure

Finally, the matter of security is extremely important to choosing a data centre partner. This related to both physical and on the cloud security. Security of your physical assets is actually one of the key benefits of outsourcing, with most providers assuming responsibility for this aspect. Vodacom offers a four-tier security system with 24/7 manned security, perimeter, finger and biometric layers as well as our SOC controlled access.

Additional Cloud security as an outsourced value proposition is also available. According to the shared responsibility model, on cloud security is the responsibility of the customer while the physical security falls to the provider. But, due to its position as a network provider, Vodacom can offer security support on the cloud, a critical benefit to smaller businesses with less mature security structures or understanding.

By lowering costs and offering genuine uptime guarantees, outsourcing data centres can enable Businesses and SMEs to grow, and with them our economy. Our data centres solutions offer a soft landing to those without the financial muscle to invest, helping Large Enterprises and SMEs turn opportunities into success, both in terms of connectivity and data centre capability leverage.


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