Rack Centre CEO, Ayotunde Coker says, “Innovation is a way of life”
Congratulations on winning the “Most Innovative Data Centre Technology Provider in Nigeria” category for BusinessDay’s Top 25 Most Innovative Companies & Institutions in Nigeria Awards 2017.
Rack Centre has received brand recognition within a short period for your innovations in the technology space. What has been the principles under girding your high level of success in innovating?
Answer: Innovation is a way of life for us at Rack Centre. We ensure everything we do is based on global best practice. Our innovation is not just in the technology that underpins Rack Centre, but the products and services that we offer customers. This includes the level of interconnectivity that we provide, the cloud services offered, and the high quality of installation of client assets within the facility.
What makes Rack Centre’s data technology centre uniquely distinct from others on the African Continent?
Rack Centre is located in Oregun, Lagos State at a private estate, 30 meters above sea level, and has been operating since October 2013 with 100% uptime. It is truly Carrier Neutral and was the first in Sub Sahara Africa to be Design Certified by the Uptime Institute in May 2014. It is now the only carrier neutral colocation facility to be Constructed Facility Certified in Africa by the Uptime Institute. It is the most connected Tier III data centre in Africa, with direct connection to all five undersea cables serving the Atlantic coast. This means every country on the Atlantic Coast of Africa is directly connected to Rack Centre by high speed fibre. The Internet Exchange Point of Nigeria is hosted in Rack Centre.
Our CloudonGroundTM offering provides a heterogenous and comprehensive exchange for cloud services in the region. Rack Centre has grown since inception, successfully implementing a doubling of capacity in April 2016 for which Rack Centre has won numerous prestigious regional and global awards. Rack Centre is proudly Nigerian, truly African with global brand recognition, and has won numerous prestigious awards in Nigeria, West Africa, Africa and globally.
The first African company to have won the Data Centre Dynamics awards in the UK, the first African company to be finalist and runner up at the Data Centre Solutions Awards also in the UK, keeping good company with some of the most respected global players.
Tell us more about the Cloud on Ground. What potential impact does this innovation have on the Nigerian business sector and the overall economy?
Rack Centre CloudonGroundTM, innovation provides the first and most comprehensive heterogeneous Tier III certified marketplace for world class quality Cloud Services, in West Africa delivered ‘on ground’ within Rack Centre with low latency high performance. Rack Centre is the heart of Cloud services delivered locally in West Africa, with potential to extend to greater Africa. This is expected to transform the 20 million strong Nigerian SME community. The advantage of using the Cloud solutions in Rack Centre compared to other solutions hosted elsewhere outside the continent is that our customers enjoy our services without the latency of traversing across to services on a different continent. We host our website in Rack Centre, and increasingly migrating customers for foreign web hosting and cloud services. The low latency performance of websites hosted in Rack Centre is stunning. We are also building local technology capability in the region and creating a technology value chain that has significant impact on local capacity building. Rack Centre’s quality and reliability is evidenced through its achieving the Uptime Institute Certification; a respected mark of global quality. It is the most connected Tier III data centre in Africa, so we provide high speed universal access locally to Cloud Services
Rack Centre has recorded many firsts and milestones as an Organisation. What are the current initiatives being undertaken by your Company to continue to be the pace-setter in the technology industry in Nigeria and Africa?
Answer: We have a series of initiatives underway which I am unable to reveal yet. We will continue to validate our excellence in technology and operational processes through obtaining the Uptime Institute Tier Certification of Operational Stability. We currently operate to these standards, however from our experience of the standards and rigour of the Uptime Institute, this is a key certification. We continue to innovate on our carrier neutrality for providing unrivalled pan Africa connectivity to our existing and future pan Africa customers hosted at Rack Centre. You will also see other innovations emerge around Cloud on GroundTM framework. I am excited about the possibilities. We continue to work with our technical partners to provide innovations on our modular technology for continuous investment-efficient scalability, so our customers can truly host and grow in Rack Centre.
What limitations and obstacles does Rack Centre as a technology company face in your quest for continuous innovation in Nigeria?
One challenge has been to create the awareness and belief that such quality could, and does exist in Africa. We have been able to engineer our power systems to overcome some of the regional power challenges, and continue to innovate and seek complementary and more efficient and diverse green power solutions. We have a harsh climatic environment given the high humidity of over 90% and temperatures over 35 degrees centigrade. However, the sophistication of our cooling systems means we run the most efficient data centre in the region. I am proud of my team at Rack Centre and we have cultivated some amazing local talent; all African to run such a sophisticated facility.
What are your plans?
I have outlined some of our on-going innovations. We are also looking at expanding to other locations in the country and in Africa; creating Africa’s mega data centre. Continuing to grow core infrastructure that underpins the technology transformation that is so essential for powering growth in Africa, leapfrogging some advanced economies. We will continue to drive regional and global interconnectivity. We will export technology services from Nigeria.
We will continue to innovate to maintain our global quality standards, delivered from Nigeria.
What are your views on the technology sector in Nigeria and what needs to be done to place this country at the forefront of technology solutions on the Continent?
Although we have had some economic setbacks over the past two years across the continent, we are now seeing a new growth that will be powered by technology. Technology will be a key factor to enable Africa leap frog some more established and advanced economies. This will be the high growth region of the world with 1.3 billion people. Even in other continents, it is about 20% of the population that transform the continent, and that will be the case in Africa. Just in Nigeria, we have 20 million SMEs, larger than the entire population of some European countries such as Belgium. Building Cloud Services in Rack Centre will lower the entry point of computing services to the SMEs, transforming the efficiency of the SMEs and the continent. This is certainly an under-tapped market, if not an untapped one. There will be more regional diversity in the key economic regions across the continent.
The youth in Nigeria are amazingly creative and dynamic; something Richard Quest also observed in his recent visit to Nigeria. Information and Communications Technology is just over 12% of GDP, although currently dominated by Telecommunications. My assertion is that in the next three years, it will diversify with other areas of innovative ICT and grow to about 17% of GDP, and impact about 90% of our economy. Significantly more than Oil and Gas. Nigeria will become the beacon of technology innovation in Africa.
Watch this space!!!
How does it feel for your efforts and contributions to be recognised as one of the Most Innovative Companies in Nigeria to be included in the Innovation Report: Companies to Inspire Nigeria in 2017?
We are truly proud and pleased to have been recognised as one of the Most Innovative Companies. We felt ‘wow’! This is very inspiring and highly motivating for us all at Rack Centre. We will continue to strive to set the benchmark for innovation in our field in the country and the region and to set the benchmark. Maybe one day, we may achieve the overall innovative company award.
Is there any other information you’d like to add?
Rack Centre is proudly Nigerian, truly African and globally recognised.
Thank You Very Much!
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