By Travers Nicholas, General Manager, West Africa at EMC
There is a fundamental truth that companies must accept if they wish to compete in the 21st century: technology is no longer just a component of business, but its foundation. This is why you often hear the phrase ‘all companies are now software companies’ and why it is critical to have leadership buy into this paradigm from the top down. CEOs and the rest of the C-suite can no longer just pass this ball to the technology wing and hope for the best.
This is a tricky mindshift for most market to make, but not in West Africa. Economies there such as Nigeria, where ICT already contributes 10 percent to GDP, are taking full advantage of modern datacentre technologies to realise competitiveness, agility and savings.
In an environment where the overwhelming number of end users rely on mobile devices, the ability to roll out services across densely populated cities and large rural areas is key to survival – especially in the highly competitive financial services sector. Business leaders know and understand this, which is in part why they are adopting converged infrastructure as a decisive edge.
Converged and Hyper-Converged Infrastructure are redefining the value and ability of datacentres. Instead of building and maintaining customised servers complete with a suite of connectivity, storage, security, virtualisation and other services, companies can treat these as a plug-and-play commodity. When purchasing a product such as VCE Vblock, companies gain an all-in-one systems advantage that can be managed easily and upgraded seamlessly.
A good comparison is a car: do you still purchase the individual components and build your own car, or do you go to a showroom floor, review your choices and then select the best fit? Imagine if your business requires a fleet of vehicles, but each had to be hand-build. It would be ridiculously costly. Datacentre infrastructure is making that same transition: instead of doing it all yourself, procure a system that was already designed to best carry the application workloads that make your business thrive.
This approach has other advantages. Convergence infrastructure push vendors such as EMC to be much more closely aligned to their customers, thus reducing skills overheads and helping predict future needs. EMC prioritises skills development, particularly on a local level both inside EMC and within our customer base and partner ecosystem – in the past 8 years it has grown the Nigerian footprint of skilled EMC technicians by roughly 40 percent pa.
It also works closely with customers to ensure performance, growth and governance benchmarks – such as disaster recovery – are met and exceeded. A third benefit resulting from the commoditised nature of converged systems is that deploying secondary and backup systems is cost-effective, while management tools make it possible to seamlessly move live workloads from one machine to another.
The results are there to see. Some banks in Nigeria already run 80+ percent of their workloads on VCE V-Block converged systems. The savings from converged systems has also made it more palatable to establish marketplace datacentres that offer services to third party companies. Examples of these include established centres by MTN, MainOne and the public-sector focused Galaxy Backbone PLC. These can help all West African businesses to thrive in the 21st century.
Converged infrastructure means you can buy instead of build, yet gain all the advantages and more. VCE and EMC’s solutions are designed to work with top application and service workloads out of the box, thus creating more space for your company to use its resources wisely, to innovate and adapt quickly to market demands, and to stay ahead of the competition.