In Summary
  • Raxio, a three tier data centre, is the first of its kind private data centre, to make its way into Uganda.
  • Mr James Byaruhanga, the general manager, explains to Daily Monitor’s Christine Kasemiire the relevance of data centres to businesses.

What is a data centre?
It is a high level facility where enterprises can keep their equipment offsite from their offices. Data centres offer machine cooling, power, space and security. Enterprises essentially use data centres to safeguard their information from the many possible risks that can lead to its destruction.

Why are data centres important?
If you have been in need of something and when you approach someone, they say the system is down. Be it electricity, tax services, water among others, you know how important data centres can be in life. This is because most of these companies’ systems are in-house.
The challenge with in-house systems is that the level of accessibility or high level service agreement is significant. While having various back up sites helps, it becomes expensive in the long run.

For any potential disaster, fire, flood, building collapse in the case of a data centre, you have another place that has the same information. Absence of that information will hinder business continuity because you will not be able to continue with business as usual. Data centres are that back up that is heavily safeguarded.

According to a report by National Information and Technology Authority, more than 60 per cent of government institutions still use old systems of information storage. Why are Ugandans reluctant to move to digitalised systems?
The immediate cost of running a server room which houses all information in soft copy hinders the shift by companies to these systems. For instance, you would need air conditioning to cool the machines, power, available and consistent connectivity and security to run your business.

Even then, why get a private data centre and not in-house?
The cost of running a server room is high. This, in the long run, increases the operating costs of a business. The cost of electricity, security, environment, space all require investments by companies. Outsourcing these services saves reduces the cost of operation for a business.

You mentioned data centres leading to a drop in cost of Internet. How would that work?
Due to their ability to safe guard the servers of big companies and reassurance of protection of their information, they would come to Uganda. For instance the Netflix, Hullu, they would move their services closer to the people and would need to improve the quality of internet and cut its cost.

Information to many is treasure. In your experience, are there concerns by government to store information with private sector?
Government institutions are not the typical customers but more and more are beginning to realise the benefits of having data centres. Do I expect government based institutions to be among the first ten customers? No, I do not.

Cybercrime is on the rise globally. What are the security assurances you can give people that their information will not be lost?
Technology in the Eastern African region leap frogs. This means innovations introduced in countries such as Uganda penetrate the market faster than they would in the developed countries, take for instance, mobile money. Just as other countries are doing their due diligence and researching about how to strengthen their systems, I believe Ugandan companies will do the same. Data centres are highly secure right from the get go.
Digital security and a remote monitoring support system is in place to ensure security is tight. They are built to block hacks.

How will this data centre cater for Small and Medium Enterpises (SMEs) which make up the greatest chunk of Uganda’s economy?
SMEs usually lack the capital or resources to own their own servers or system because of its capital intensive nature. They would be housed under a private centre where they can share infrastructure to be effectively operational.

Data centres, I imagine, would need power sustainability so the servers remain online. Is Uganda’s electricity up to your standards?
There is a misconception about East Africa’s power quality. Uganda’s power is well within United Kingdom’s standards. However, as more data centres come onto the market, there would be more power consumption, market for generators, electrical engineers. This would have a trickled own effect and boost growth in the country.

Why data centre are important
For any potential disaster, fire, flood, building collapse in the case of a data centre, you have another place that has the same information. Absence of that information will hinder business continuity because you will not be able to continue with business as usual. Data centres are that back up that is heavily safeguarded.