Securing the digital frontier: Kenya’s businesses need the right data infrastructure

By Ghassan Azzi 

Businesses are responding to the hardware needs of the fourth industrial revolution in exciting ways – particularly in Kenya, where many start-ups and businesses are embracing the latest technologies for their IT infrastructure. Sitting at the heart of that infrastructure is the importance of data, and although some overlook it, businesses need to take data storage seriously for the sake of business continuity, data accessibility, and security.

Applying the latest tech trends

In the modern age, the success of a company’s IT infrastructure is partially measured by its ability to collect, store, and extract value from data. As innovative technologies such as 5G, artificial intelligence (AI), and even software unification become more prolific, companies need to consider the areas in which data and analytics can transform or augment their more traditional systems.

There is also a practical element to consider. The kinds of data being gathered for AI can have a direct impact on technical requirements and indicate what form the optimal data infrastructure should take. Even when it’s something as simple as collecting video footage for video analytics, companies need to invest in the right solutions for the right tasks. For video analytics, this can include high-capacity storage solution that can handle collecting data from multiple streams.

A hotbed for innovation

In 2006, mathematician Clive Humby published his now iconic quote: “Data is the new oil.” It’s still as true now as it was then. Data is a commodity that has not only revolutionised entire sectors but also led to the creation of new ones. We have seen giants such as e-commerce, social and entertainment giants use big data and analytics to create tailor-made experiences, products, and services that directly respond to consumer behaviour, habits, and preferences. There is also a growing trend, born in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, for companies to fast-track digital transformation initiatives, where data plays a central role. These companies are setting themselves up for present and future success as data opens the doors for other tools such as machine learning and automation. In the case of Kenya, this is happening in real time.

Known as Africa’s “Silicon Savanah,” Kenya is home to one of the most thriving start-up ecosystems on the continent. Kenya’s start-ups have already  raised $820 million in funding during the first half of 2022, with capital going to rising players in retail, energy, and finance. These sectors and others are undergoing major transformation as the role of data in modern enterprises is reconfigured. New ideas, products, and services are being developed in the ecosystem that call for the next generation of storage and consolidation methods to be used.

As a result, companies need reliable data storage infrastructure. Ill-functioning or unreliable hardware carries risks that can result in data loss or degradation, which can bring operations to a halt or compromise proprietary knowledge or assets. Today’s onsite storage is preferably designed with multiple backup strategies with contingencies in mind for events such as a power loss, disrupted backup procedures, and even accidental deletion of files. And while company leaders and IT personnel can establish the most rigorous of protocols, high quality and reliable hardware can reduce or completely eliminate these risks.

Data storage: Smart and modernised

Many companies across Kenya, and indeed East Africa, face logistical or budgetary challenges when it comes to the handling, storage and management of their data, whether in the form of access to affordable cloud hosting solutions, or something as straightforward as a consistent supply of power. Because of this, companies must incorporate widely compatible and cost-effective infrastructure that best suits them.

Quality data storage solutions should be equipped with built-in functions and software that give users and companies the tools they need to analyse and monitor hardware themselves. This is extremely important in the context of security and surveillance-related functions. Using technology that is purpose-built for specific use cases, companies can increase their incident response times and maintain high optimisation levels in the face of any potential failures.

This is also where AI starts to play a role in how we store and manage our data. By analysing operational parameters and data gathered from sensors and other devices, these systems can diagnose problems, make recommendations to users, and offer remedial courses of action. At the same time, baselines are established to ensure continuous high performance.

These systems are the kind that Kenyan businesses and start-ups stand to benefit from. By considering how data storage plays a role in the enterprise, and the functions that best surround data storage, we can begin to adopt and standardise new methods that will transform the ecosystem and greater global tech landscape.

(Ghassan Azzi is the Sales Director for Africa at Western Digital).


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