How data centres at the network edge can support the next evolution of telcos in Africa

By Arlene Nazareth

In this digital age, everything we undertake anywhere in the world will include generation of data, more amounts of data than ever before. When you take IoT devices (which generate a lot of data), for instance, their number is estimated to surpass 25.4 billion in 2030.

With the high rate of data generation, there is a growing need for the data to be processed quicker and closer to the point of generation- and that starts with adopting a network edge architecture. In Africa, one of the biggest data generators are telecommunications company as they connect a lot of Africans from different areas of the continent and even globally.

When it comes to telcos specifically, the telco edge is emerging as the next frontier for data center compute environment, a transformation that Schneider Electric believes will continue for at least the next 10 years. As telcos and cloud architectures begin to converge to a single architecture, telcos have many reasons to act on edge computing now.

Edge computing will help lower cost and value creation as telcos roll out commercial 5G networks. It will also be a greater push towards sustainability, and environmental impact. Edge computing will further increase scalability by leveraging technologies like cloud, network function virtualization (NFV), software defined network (SDN), and 5G.

The world Bank and African Development Bank reports that there are 650 million mobile users in Africa, this surpasses the number in the United States or Europe. In some African countries more people have access to a mobile phone than to clean water, a bank account, or electricity.

With this numbers, African telcos generate a lot of data at any given time and generates more everyday than the previous day.

At Schneider Electric, we understand why leveraging an ecosystem of partners for a complete edge solution is crucial to effectively addressing many of these challenges – from reducing the complexity of the technology and solutions to security requirements and the services involved for distributed network edge data centers.

In fact, according to WorldWide Technology, integrated and pre-configured solutions can reduce field engineering costs by 25% to 40%, increase order processing speed by 20%, and reduce maintenance costs by 7%.

To help reduce field engineering costs, increase order processing speed, and reduce maintenance costs, Schneider Electric has developed the EcoStruxure Pod Data Centre, a rack-ready system designed to deploy IT at scale in increments of 8-to-12 racks. The backbone of this solution is its freestanding structure designed to easily integrate with a variety of cooling and power configurations, simplifying the design and installation process and reducing capex cost by up to 15 per cent.

To further help drive efficiency across the network and support the next evolution of telcos in Africa is the need for real time monitoring and analytics. With EcoStruxture IT, users can manage sites remotely. This solution is the next-generation data center infrastructure management software solution, that is cloud-based and is ideal for managing and monitoring edge sites. It enables the collection and analysis of data that leads to better performance with predictive capability. And, deploying at scale, helps to solve these challenges and drive efficiency across the network.

(Arlene Nazareth is the Secure Power Distribution Director, Schneider Electric).

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