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NAPAfrica enters IXP top 15

Teraco, Africa’s only vendor neutral data centre, has announced that Africa’s largest Internet Exchange Point (IXP), NAPAfrica is now ranked in the top 15 of the largest global IXPs.

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This ranking position is in terms of the number of unique ASNs or peering members across the IXP. Andrew Owens, Technical Manager – Interconnection & Peering, Teraco, says that NAPAfrica has 323 members and has truly established itself as the interconnection and content hub for sub-Saharan Africa, connecting to over 350 unique ASN’s servicing 16 countries.

Owens says that the success of an IXP should be measured by its ability to sustainably contribute to the development of the Internet ecosystem within its community: “Several NAPAfrica members claim that as much as 80% of their traffic is peered at the exchange. This significantly lowers transport costs across the southern continent and enables clients to offer a better service at far more competitive prices.”

In 2010, Teraco approached the Internet Service Provider’s Association (ISPA) to suggest moving the Johannesburg Internet Exchange (JINX) and establish the Cape Town Internet Exchange (CINX) at Teraco’s facilities, which was the only neutral data centre available at the time. The proposal was rejected, which led to Lex van Wyk and Andrew Owens building an exchange. This was the start of a great Internet adventure and a steep learning curve for Teraco.

The first significant milestone was reached when Google joined the IXP and started peering its content in 2012. “Later that same year more content providers joined, most notably Akamai and Optinet, and the exchange soared to a new high of 1Gbps of traffic. Members soon realised the very real value of picking up content locally,” says Owens.  He says that the exchange has also become more attractive as content players watch the number of users and traffic increase.

By 2016, NAPAfrica exceeded peak daily throughput of 100Gbps; Telkom Openserve announced its decision to peer and the NAPAfrica community was firmly on the map as the largest in Africa. Early 2017 saw NAPAfrica upgrading its infrastructure to a new Arista platform. Owens says this was driven by client demand as they continued to enjoy the growth in Internet traffic across the continent: “100Gbps ports are the new standard and we are upgrading existing clients on a daily basis,” says Owens.

He says that the first client to upgrade to a 100Gbps port was Afrihost and the demand has continued: “The NAPAfrica platform has the hardware, capability and traffic to support this level of investment into Internet infrastructure. Prices have also dropped significantly, down to around 25% of the levels last seen in late 2016, making this an affordable option when upgrading.”

As Southern Africa continues to grow and prove itself to be the African continent’s largest colocation market, larger than the next 20 African markets combined according to Xalam Analytics, the role of an IXP such as NAPAfrica becomes more critical. “Developing Africa’s Internet ecosystem is a primary role of an IXP together with infrastructure providers such as Teraco. In the eight years since the start of NAPAfrica, sub-Saharan Africa has benefited from local and international content from leading providers such as Akamai, Cloudflare, Facebook, Google, Netflix, Microsoft, Amazon, Verizon Digital Media, Limelight and Optinet.” 

Because most of the major network operators in Southern Africa peer at NAPAfrica, large amounts of content reach the man on the street.  This combination of network and content operators working together, assists in making the end user Internet work.

Achieving a position in the top 15 globally, Owens says; “NAPAfrica will continue to upgrade its infrastructure. The volume of Internet traffic is steadily increasing with Johannesburg reaching 400Gbps, and Cape Town is almost at 100Gbps. We are ready to meet further demand and growth.”

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The myths of microwaves

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We all know microwaves make cooking a breeze and it helps save those minutes, we rarely have enough of these days. However, some people do have those lingering doubts about whether microwaving food destroys nutrients or that it emits harmful radiation. However, the truth is a lot more comforting and positive.

“The microwave makes life so much easier,” says Tracy Gordon, Head of Product – Home Appliances at Samsung South Africa. “It’s human-centred technology at its most helpful. The Samsung Hotblast for example, has revolutionary functions, which are tailor-made to create fast, tasty and healthy meals in minutes.”

A recent article by Harvard Health Publishingclaims stated that “microwave ovens cook food using waves of energy that are remarkably selective, primarily affecting water and other molecules that are electrically asymmetrical. Microwaves cause these molecules to vibrate and quickly build up thermal (heat) energy.” The article debunks two common myths about microwaving food.

Myth 1: Microwaving kills nutrients

Whether in a microwave or a regular oven, some nutrients, including vitamin C, do break down when exposed to heat. However, the fact is, cooking with a microwave might be better when it comes to preserving nutrients because it takes a shorter time to cook. Additionally, as far as vegetables go, cooking them in water robs them of some of their nutritional value because the nutrients seep out into the cooking water,” states the report by Harvard Health Publishing. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), food cooked in a microwave oven is as safe and has the same nutrient value, as food cooked in a conventional oven.

Myth 2: Microwaving food can give you cancer

The American Cancer Society (ACS) says that microwaves do not make food radioactive. Microwaves heat food but they do not change the chemical or molecular structure of it. In fact, there is absolutely no evidence that microwaves pose a health risk to people when used appropriately, the organisation added.

With those myths well busted, it’s comforting to know one can make full use of the convenient kitchen appliance. And when the time comes to use a microwave to heat up a tasty meal in no time, one can trust the Samsung Hotblast to do the job. The HotBlast has multiple air holes blowing out powerful hot air, which reduces cooking time. Samsung claims the Slim Fry technology ensures that food is perfectly crisp on the outside and delicious and juicy on the inside. Additionally, this versatile microwave has a wider grill, making it easier to brown food fast and evenly. The turntable is wider, measuring 345mm, making it possible to prepare bigger portions of food. And with its Eco Mode power, it significantly reduces energy consumption with its low standby power. Its intelligent features and stylish design makes it very useful and as we now know – a safe, healthy way to enjoy a meal.

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New BMW 3-series ushers in autonomous future

The new BMW 3-series is not meant to be an autonomous car, but it is so close, ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK discovers.

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It was not meant to be a test-drive of an autonomous vehicle. But the Driving Assist button on the steering wheel of the new BMW 330i was just too tempting. And there I found myself, on Sir Lowry’s Pass near Cape Town, “driving” with my arms folded while the vehicle negotiated curves on its own.

Every 10 seconds or so, yellow or red lights flashed to alert me to put my hands back on the wheel. The yellow lights meant the car wanted me to put my hands on the wheel, just to show that I was in control. The red lights meant that I had to take over control from the artificial intelligence built into the vehicle.

With co-driver Ernest Page, we negotiated a major highway, the bends of Sir Lowry’s pass, and the passes of Hell’s Heights (Hel se Hoogte) above the Cape Winelands.

As the above video of the experience reveals, it can be nerve-racking for someone who hasn’t experienced autonomous driving, or hasn’t been dreaming of testing it for many years. For this driver, it was exhilarating. Not because the car performed so magnificently, but because it tells us just how close true autonomous driving really is.

There was one nervous moment when the autonomous – or rather, Driving Assist – mode disengaged on Hell’s Heights, but fear not. A powerful sense of responsibility prevailed, and my hands hovered over the steering wheel as it took the curve. Assist disengaged, and the car began to veer towards the other side of the road. I quickly took over, and also sobered up from the giddiness of thinking I was already in the future.

In reality, Driving Assist is part of level 2 of driving autonomy, as defined by the Society of Automotive Engineers. A presentation on the evening of the test drive, by Edward Makwana, manager of group product communications at BMW Group in South Africa, summed up the five stages as the driver having Feet Off, Hands Off, Eyes Off, Mind off, and finally, only being a Passenger.

However, the extent to which the hands-off mode of Driving Assist mimics self-driving, and easily shows the way to eyes-off and mind-off, is astonishing.

Click here to read about the components that make the Driving Assist work.

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