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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 PC is back!

… and 2020 will be its big year, writes CHRIS BUCHANAN, client solutions director at Dell Technologies

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Concept Ori

It turns out the PC’s death has been exaggerated. PC sales grew between 1.1% and 1.5% in the last few quarters of the year, according to Gartner. While those don’t sound like massive leaps, they represent a large market that has been declining for several years. Windows 10 is credited for this surge, especially as Windows 7 is leading towards its end of life (EOL).

But I don’t think that is the entire picture. Windows 10 upgrades have been taking place for several years, and the market has also gotten savvier about managing EOL. Other factors are driving the adoption of PCs.

A specific one is how much closer the PC now sits to smartphones. I recently watched some youngsters work with laptops that had touchscreens. They hardly ever touched the keyboard, instead tapping and swiping on the screen. Yet they were still working on a laptop, not a smartphone. Certain things are much easier to do on a PC than a phone, and users are realising this. They aren’t relinquishing the convenience of their smartphones but applications are now available on PC’s and often easier to use.

Convertible or 2-in-1 machines have closed the gap between the two device types. This is in contrast to tablets. If you observe how people sit with tablets, it’s the opposite of smartphones or laptops. With the latter, we sit forward, attentive and focused. But tablets often prompt people to recline. It’s just a casual observation, yet I believe that PCs and smartphones have much more overlap with each other than pure tablet devices. Additionally, the convertible laptop has become the new tablet.

Chris Buchanan

Why does this bode well for PCs in 2020? 2-in-1 machines break down the barriers between the utility of a PC and collaborative culture of a smartphone. You can now flip a laptop into tent mode and use it as an interactive presentation screen on a boardroom table, or cradle it like a clipboard you jot on with a digital pen.

In the next year, we’ll see more of the market responding to this trend. Premium 2-in-1 devices have a stable and growing audience of users who are now going into their second, third and even fourth generations of devices. Mid-range and entry-level laptops are also starting to adopt touchscreens and flip displays.

2-in-1 devices are also pushing innovation, such as the emergence of dual-screen systems. Dell revealed two such concept devices at CES this year: Project Duet, a dual screen laptop, and Project Ori (for origami), a more compact approach to foldable devices. We also unveiled Project UFO, a prototype Alienware device that puts triple-A PC gaming into a handheld device. All of these reflect the desire for touch-enabled devices that are portable without sacrificing performance or excellence. They definitely point us to the future.

Convertible devices are not a new form factor. I can recall the first flip-over touchscreen designs appearing 15 years ago. Back then they were exotic and the standard laptop ruled the roost. But today, the habits and expectations of users are driving a change decisively towards convertible devices.

Desktop PCs are meanwhile becoming more specialised, yet also more widely appreciated for their versatility. Specialist non-Windows PCs, such as those used by designers, are being replaced by Windows PCs, often for lower costs. Integrated discrete graphics chips and other advancements add a lot of value to modern desktops. The smartphone overlap also appears here: many people use services such as Whatsapp Web on their PCs, and Dell customers use the Dell Mobile Connect app to show their smartphone screen on their PC display.

There is a new synergy between the PC and smartphone, created by users who find the two complement each other. Not everyone has realised this yet, but in 2020 that will be the resounding message. The PC is back and 2020 will be its year.

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Jaguar designs ‘seat of the future’

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Jaguar Land Rover is developing the seat of the future – a pioneering shape-shifting system designed to improve customer wellbeing by tackling the health risks of sitting down for too long.

The ‘morphable’ seat, being trialled by Jaguar Land Rover’s Body Interiors Research division, uses a series of actuators in the seat foam to create constant micro-adjustments that make your brain think you’re walking, and could be individually tailored to each driver and passenger.

More than a quarter of people worldwide – 1.4 billion – are living increasingly sedentary lifestyles, which can shorten muscles in the legs, hips and gluteals causing back pain. The weakened muscles also mean you are more likely to injure yourself from falls or strains. 

By simulating the rhythm of walking, a movement known as pelvic oscillation, the technology can help mitigate against the health risks of sitting down for too long on extended journeys with some drivers doing hundreds of kilometres per week. 

Dr Steve Iley, Jaguar Land Rover Chief Medical Officer, said: “The wellbeing of our customers and employees is at the heart of all our technological research projects. We are using our engineering expertise to develop the seat of the future using innovative technologies not seen before in the automotive industry to help tackle an issue that affects people across the globe.”

Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles already feature the latest in ergonomic seat design, with multi-directional adjustments, massage functions and climate control fitted across the range. Dr Iley has also issued advice on how to adjust your seat to ensure the perfect driving position, from removing bulky items in your pocket, to shoulder positioning and from ensuring your spine and pelvis are straight to supporting your thighs to reduce pressure points. View the video here.

The research is part of Jaguar Land Rover’s commitment to continually improving customer wellbeing through technological innovation. Previous projects have included research to reduce the effects of motion sickness and the implementation of ultraviolet light technology to stop the spread of colds and flu. 

Together, these efforts are driving towards Destination Zero; Jaguar Land Rover’s ambition to make societies safer and healthier, and the environment cleaner – a responsible future for our workers, customers and communities around us. Through relentless innovation, Jaguar Land Rover is adapting product and services to meet the rapidly-changing world.

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