Advances in technology has meant that the world has become a global village with a person in say Turkana being able to communicate with someone in New York in real time thanks to the internet.
As a country, we have benefitted immensely since the first fibre optic cable landed on our shores back in 2009. For a country that used to rely on satellite internet to communicate, fiber was a game changer for youths, SMEs, private sector, government and institutions. This is because techies were now able to build applications, some build companies out of the applications and these was followed by a remarkable mobile technology revolution in Kenya.
At the time, new startups and ventures cropped up, making Kenya a top contender in the running for the title of Africa’s Silicon Savannah. Fiber internet also led to tech hubs sprouting across the city and it is these hubs that propelled the country to be a leader in the African continent on matters technology.
Since 2009, when the first cable landed on our shores, there have been at least 5 other cables which have come into the country bringing the total number to six. The latest cable being the PEACE cable which landed earlier this year and is a partnership between Telkom, and the PEACE Cable company. This cable is expected to bring faster and more stable communication services connecting Africa, Europe, and Asia.
With the entry of the various fiber cables into the country, this has come with the benefit of lowering the cost of the internet for consumers. This has had an effect of increasing in the number of Kenyans who are online, with reports indicating that smartphone penetration stands at 27.9 Million as per the Communications Authority.
As the number of Kenyans on the online space rises, there has been a need for data centers to meet this demand. A data center is essentially a building, a dedicated space within a building, or a group of buildings used to house computer systems and associated components, such as telecommunications and storage systems.
One of the companies offering data center services is icolo.io which so far has three data centers in the country. icolo.io started operations in the country back in 2017 with their first data center which is located in Mirintini, Mombasa County. An increase in the demand for their services saw them open the second date canter in Nairobi. Earlier this year, they opened their latest data center in the Nyali suburbs of Mombasa.
icolo.io essentially offers the infrastructure (power, space and cooling) that enables the undersea fibre cable operators to be able to offload their capacity to the local internet service providers with ease, essentially acting as a middleman. Also, to enable their clientele to get as many options as possible, the data center is carrier neutral. This means that when a client decided to use their facility, they are able to give one options when it comes to which undersea fiber cable to use. This ensures that a client is able to get a provider who matches their needs.
icolo’s new facility in Nyali is connected to four undersea fiber cables which means that those who will utilize the facility have more options to choose from as opposed to a situation where a data center is owned by a specific carrier. This means that a client is able to get better services and prices which can then be transferred to their customers.
When running an online business, any downtime is a disaster for the business, this is why the new Nyali data center promises a 99.99% percent uptime to its customers. To do this they have heavily invested in their power supply to ensure that there are no cases of downtime. As such they have a dedicated 11KV power line from Kenya Power and two backup generators as well as a state-of-the-art UPS system.
Equipment is very expensive and any damage to it can be a huge setback for a company. Servers generally emit a lot of heat which if not adequately cooled can cause damage. To ensure that this does not happen, icolo.io has invested heavily in a cooling system which operates at temperatures between 15-22 degrees which is optimal for servers. An intelligent fire suppression system which utilizes inert gas ensures that all your equipment is safe at the center.
According to the management, they predict that the Nyali facility will be a key player in the Kenya data center scene. The facility has apparently been built according to predictions in future demand and they expect that in future over 50 Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will be hosted in the building. This is expected to go a long way in reducing the cost of the internet in the country because as the costs incurred by the ISPs go down, they will be able to offer better services at a lower cost.