South Africa: Neotel opens data centre with video priority

Technology & Convergence

Neotel will launch a virtual service environment in its data centre, with a view to providing full cloud offerings later, says executive head of technology Angus Hay.
Neotel has opened a data centre in Cape Town, more than a year after it opened its first, in Gauteng, in June last year.

SA's second fixed-line operator invested R100 million in the two data centres. Neotel initially announced its data centre initiative in October 2008, saying it would seek an aggressive entry into the space of managed services.

The operator says this opening is in line with the inclusion of data management guidelines in the latest King Report on Corporate Governance (King III), which highlights the need for businesses to have comprehensive business continuity plans that provide for the security of company data, intellectual property and business connectivity.

“The report apportions greater responsibility to directors to implement clear business and IT continuity systems to ensure business survival in the event that disaster strikes.”

Neotel says it meets this need through its data centres, which provide secure locations for multiple server management, data storage and backup that can conform to the strictest security protocols.

“In addition to the highest specification collocation, managed security, managed storage, and on-demand connectivity, we are adding virtualisation – secure infrastructure as a service (IaaS) – localised cloud computing that supports the customer and shared cloud-based applications, such as our hosted contact centre offering,” said executive head of technology Angus Hay, at the opening of the new centre.

The data centres will form part of the distribution for Seacom capacity. Head of product and solutions at Neotel Rajeev Sinha says the operator has invested significant time in developing a highly-sophisticated centre that will allow it to terminate Seacom capacity, as well as serve customers in a single space.

The two local data centres will both act as primary and disaster recovery sites, depending on where particular customers choose to host their key services.

Neotel's executive head of the enterprise group, Stefano Mattiello, also previously hinted the company may look into streaming content across its local network, which could see it compete with Google some time in the future.

In addition, says Mattiello, the data centre will naturally offer traditional services, such as co-location, managed customer-premises equipment, storage-on-demand and virtualisation, but, ultimately, it is about “going to the next level”.

To achieve this, Neotel will leverage its relationship with Tata Communications, part of the India-based Tata Group, which holds a stake in the South African telecoms operator.

Neotel laid 4 500km of fibre in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban, and has a 12, 000km national network. It also has two data centres and an IP-based next-generation network.

Hay says Neotel is now gearing up to launch value-added products, such as outsourced call centre facilities at a per-seat price, telepresence video conferencing, and a content delivery network to offer live video streaming.

Neotel is leveraging the cables that have landed in SA, and its global network access through Tata, to “dip a toe” into offering cloud computing, Hay noted. The telecoms operator will shortly launch a virtual service environment in its data centre with a view to providing full cloud offerings later, he explained.

In addition, it is deploying a content delivery network that will be overlaid on its IP infrastructure. Hay said 10% of the information delivered over the Internet is content, such as video. The company's network will prioritise video and allow for real-time delivery.