There is set to be a 10 fold increase in mobile data traffic and around 540 million smart phones on the African continent by 2020. The lowering cost of smartphone handsets, coupled with the rise in new mobile innovations and offerings centering around the African consumer is leading to a data boom in 'Digital Africa'. IT and Telecommunication operators on the continent are looking to cost effective and swiftly built data centre solutions to cope with this surge.
Enter Flexenclosure, the designer and manufacturer of prefabricated modular data centres and intelligent power management solutions. Their data centres have been successfully deployed in a number of key regions, stretching from Mozambique to the Cote d'Ivoire.
In this case study, we take a look at one of their most recent projects, a Flexenclosure eCentre for Angola Comunicações e Sistemas (ACS) in Luanda, which has recently been announced as a finalist for the DCD EMEA Modular Data Centre Award.
Angola Comunicações e Sistemas (ACS) is one of Angola’s leading providers of IT solutions and corporate network connectivity. Its core business is the provision of private networks and hosted data and Internet services – via both satellite and broadband wireless technologies – for public sector and enterprise customers, with a key focus on the banking sector.
With its business rapidly expanding, ACS was fast outgrowing its main data centre facility in the centre of the Angolan capital Luanda. But not only was it too small, its antiquated construction made it unsuitable to house highly sensitive ICT equipment. Further, the construction of many larger buildings around it was causing line of sight problems for their VSAT antennae – a significant issue with many of ACS’ corporate banking clients relying on ACS for mission critical VSAT services.
The solution would require ACS to move its entire operation to an entirely new facility that would serve as a high-redundancy hub for both fibre and satellite communication; that would bring enhanced security for banking transactions and data traffic; and that would enable ACS to plan for long-term business and data colocation service expansion without the need to relocate again in the foreseeable future.
ACS identified a large green-field site in Benfica – the rapidly expanding new business and commercial area of Luanda – at which to establish their new data centre facility.
However, while ideal in terms of space, the site had absolutely no existing infrastructure – water, power, telecoms connectivity, not even a road to get to it. In fact, before any building could begin, the soil itself would need to be improved in order to give it adequate load bearing capability.
These challenges were compounded by the fact that high quality materials, tools and expertise were all in very short supply locally. And the site’s somewhat remote location meant that security would be a major concern – both during construction of the facility and on-going once it was complete and fully operational.
And ACS wanted the facility to be manned 24/7, therefore requiring not only the data centre white space but also a full network operations centre (NOC), office space and associated facilities to be available for its staff.
Flexenclosure’s prefabricated eCentre data centre was selected as the ideal solution.
A detailed design study was first carried out to make sure that the facility would meet ACS’ needs both immediately and for the future. Flexenclosure then took on ownership of the project as a full turnkey operation including not only the data centre but also the entire site, including the civil works, telecom tower, VSAT farm, NOC, office space, personnel facilities and site infrastructure.
Security is state-of-the-art, with a guardhouse and perimeter laser detection system securing entry to the site. Active PTZ CCTV cameras monitor the entire facility while entry to the data centre, NOC and office space is controlled by an advanced biometric access system.
The DCIM system provides real-time monitoring of all critical systems including generators, fuel, cooling, UPS, switchgear, fire suppression and alarm systems, enabling early detection and fast resolution of any technical issues. And the racks are also fully monitored with sensors on their front and rear doors logging every time the servers are accessed.
The tiered NOC includes a video wall allowing all systems to be visually monitored simultaneously. Office space, a reception area, kitchen and bathroom facilities allow the site to be staffed in comfort 24/7.
There is no single point of failure with fully redundant and highly energy efficient power systems securing network uptime for mission critical financial services.
And with the 880sqm floor space 1.25MW data centre designed to sit effortlessly within a beautifully landscaped site, the result is a facility that will secure ACS’s future as a leading player in the Angolan ICT services market.
Topics such as expanding infrastructure sharing to the radio access network (RAN) and opening up the market to open source-based network infrastructure are far more relevant to Africa than 5G, argues Bradley Shaw.