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Teraco will link all new cloud giants arriving in SA

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Cloud investment into Africa has increased sharply as the continent sees the establishment of its first cloud regions. Through extensive investment by multiple international operators, cloud strategies are now becoming a key element within every enterprise’s infrastructure investment. Teraco, Africa’s largest and most interconnected vendor-neutral data centre, says its African cloud exchange, located in the Johannesburg and Cape Town data centre facilities, will ensure a low risk, a direct entry point for clients wishing to connect to local and global cloud providers. This ‘on-ramp’ is a vital, secure connection service housed within data centres such as Teraco and provides direct connectivity to a host of cloud providers.

Since launching, Teraco’s Africa Cloud Exchange, services the sub Saharan Africa region and has become instrumental in keeping local traffic within the borders of Africa, as opposed to routing it via Europe and back again. Currently AWS Direct Connect, Microsoft Express Route and Google’s Cloud Platform are all available via the cloud exchange.

Andrew Owens, peering and interconnection specialist, Teraco, says the Africa Cloud Exchange is the neutral connectivity point where any enterprise, ISP, carrier or managed service provider can connect in Africa: “This investment into Africa will significantly impact the burgeoning cloud region. Aside from benefiting from the myriad of cloud connectivity options, there is also no limitation on capacity. Teraco purely charges a cross-connection fee and as a result, reduces the costs to connect.”

He says that access to multiple connectivity providers and business partners is an inevitable requirement of any modern enterprise: “Most enterprises want to avoid the public Internet due to potential latency and throughput issues. These challenges are addressed by private connect solutions. Through our cloud exchange, we ensure a low risk, secure, direct, predictable connection to any client-selected cloud provider.”

By utilising cross-connections, Teraco’s Africa Cloud Exchange is a highly scalable, quick and cost-effective way to create a hybrid or multi-cloud IT environment. Owens said: “It creates an ideal opportunity to move business-critical workloads and latency-sensitive applications to the public cloud. Through this approach, fewer network hops, higher carrier diversity and interconnectivity are automatically a part of a resilient and scalable network.”

In addition, Owens says that cloud operators can take advantage of direct access to African terrestrial fibre, satellite connectivity, submarine cables and an open market for interconnection.

Using the Africa Cloud Exchange, Owens says Teraco recently ran real-world latency tests from the Teraco cross-connection directly to resources deployed in Western Europe and resources deployed in South Africa via Microsoft Express Route. As shown in the diagram below, the RTT (Round Trip Time) to resources deployed in the cloud from Teraco’s Africa Cloud Exchange has improved from an average of 171ms down to less than 2ms.

“Lower latency, and direct cloud connections are imperative for a cloud approach to thrive. Being able to assist clients within the enterprise to better serve their clients, providing not only interconnects, but also lower latency,” says Owens.

For clarification on local access please visit the links below:

https://aws.amazon.com/directconnect/features/

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/expressroute/expressroute-locations-providers

https://peering.google.com/#/infrastructure

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Liquid, IS, partner for 5G roll-out to corporate SA

Liquid Telecom has teamed up with Internet Solutions to develop an ultra-fast wholesale connectivity service for enterprises – including telcos

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Liquid Telecom South Africa has partnered with Internet Solutions (IS) to provide wholesale 5G connectivity targeted at delivering enterprise services to their existing and potential new customer bases.  

The 5G service will provide operators and internet service providers with faster speeds, lower latency and greater capacity, ultimately enabling businesses to deliver richer experiences to their customers.

“Providing IS with 5G wholesale services as an alternative to fibre connectivity, Liquid Telecom South Africa is highlighting how we are delivering on our commitment to the market to continue being the best business network in South Africa,” says Reshaad Sha, CEO of Liquid Telecom South Africa. “Local businesses are adopting technologies like SD-WAN, IoT, and cloud computing, However, these technologies need network connectivity that provides high quality, increased capacity, and greater reliability to ensure optimum performance.” 

IS managing executive Dr Setumo Mohapisays the company has evolved its networking model to provide a high-performance hybrid network that aggregates multiple WAN transport services. 

“This enables clients to fully utilise all available bandwidth for high availability and total application performance,” he says. “The innovation, flexibility and range of 5G use cases that this offers for different industries such as agriculture, retail, manufacturing, and logistics is boundless. 5G is a core component of our hybrid network and we are extremely excited about the extended capability this partnership with Liquid enables us to offer our clients.

Liquid Telecom is the first to launch a 5G wholesale network service, which it says will “accelerate the building of Africa’s digital future and the  digital revolution in South Africa”.

Liquid Telecom is a leading communications solutions provider across 13 countries, primarily in Eastern, Southern and South Africa. It serves mobile operators, carriers, enterprise, media and content companies and retail customers with high-speed, reliable connectivity, hosting and co-location and digital services. This means that it can provide the basis for its clients to offer 5G services to end-users.

Liquid has built Africa’s largest independent fibre network, approaching 70,000km, and operates state-of-the-art data centres in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Nairobi.

IS, which pioneered Internet connectivity in South Africa, is a subsidiary of the Dimension Data Group and part of Japanese telecoms giant NTT. It now leverages its infrastructure and global footprint to support organisations with the rapid deployment of emerging technologies. Still headquartered in South Africa, it has operating offices in Mozambique, Uganda, Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria. It has 82 Points of Presence (PoPs) in 19 African countries and four international PoPs in London, Germany, Hong Kong and Singapore. The company has over 10 000 square metres of data centre space across Africa.

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So you think you need a Blockchain?

By CAYLE SHARROCK, Head of Engineering at Tari Labs

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It’s 2020, and we’re still in hype overdrive about blockchain. If conventional wisdom is to be believed, blockchain is going revolutionise and disrupt every industry known to humankind.

But does every industry actually need a blockchain? Let’s take an objective look at two of the most aggressively touted use cases for Blockchain to see if it’s all it’s cracked up to be.

Before we do this, let’s remind ourselves about the four pillars of Blockchain technology and what they give you: tamper-evident logs (the blockchain); cryptographic proof of ownership (digital signatures); public accountability (the distributed public ledger); and corruption resistance (proof of work).

If we use these four features as a checklist, we can evaluate any proposed use case of blockchain technology and decide whether the potential is genuine, or whether it’s just buzzword bingo.

Banking

There have been hundreds of headlines over the past four years proclaiming how Bank Y will use Blockchain to disrupt the industry. Usually, what they claim is that they can perform interbank settlements at a fraction of the cost of what the incumbent monopoly, SWIFT, provides.

So does Blockchain work for the banking sector? Clearly, tamper detection of the transaction history is a must-have here. What about digital signatures and proof of ownership? Without a doubt. Multiple signatures? The more the merrier.

Bitcoin was conceived as trustless money – and with banks, we have a fairly small community that is heavily regulated, and that do actually trust each other to some degree. Essentially, banks use governments’ big stick instead of proof-of-work to keep everyone honest. This works most of the time. Except when it doesn’t. The 2008 crisis and the 2012 Cypriot haircuts are just two examples.

How about Public Accountability from distributed public records? No, public accountability has never been the banking sector’s strong suit. That means the banks’ ideal “blockchain” is just tamper detection, plus digital signatures. This sounds like a bunch of databases that have tightly controlled access along with strong cryptographic signatures.

The banks actually gave this non-Blockchain blockchain a name: Distributed Ledger Technology. And it’s pretty much what SWIFT already does.

Verdict: Do banks need Blockchain? Nah. They want a cheaper alternative to SWIFT.

Supply-chain management

Blockchain technology is going to revolutionise the supply-chain management (SCM) industry, we’re told. BHP Billiton was one of the first large companies to announce in 2016 that they were implementing Blockchain for their core sample supply chain. We’ve heard similar stories about the diamond industry.

Whether you think a proof-of-work Blockchain makes sense for SCM is really secondary to the challenge of The Oracle problem: blockchains are brilliant at letting you know when data in the system has been compromised. But they have zero sense whether that data is true or not.

The Oracle problem arises whenever you need to bring the concept of truth, or providence from the real world into a trustless system like Blockchain. How does the core sample data get onto the blockchain ledger? Does a guy type it in? Does he never make mistakes? Can he be bribed to type in something else? If it’s a totally automated system, can it fail? Be hacked?

Maybe we solve this by having two systems running and we compare the results. Or three. Or four. Now we have the problem of having to ship our samples to different labs around the world and be sure they weren’t tampered with in transit. If only we had a blockchain-based SCM system to secure our blockchain-based SCM system …

Verdict: The Oracle problem is really hard, and torpedos a lot of tangible good-based blockchain proposals.

So, back to our original question: do you need a blockchain? Ultimately, the future of blockchain applications (beyond money) lies in whether the benefits of having a decentralised, public record secured by proof-of-work outweighs its costs. There are plenty of really encouraging use cases emerging – think ticketing, for example, or trading in any digital assets. But for most industries, the jury’s still out.

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