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MainOne Enters Infrastructure Partnership with EMC, Microsoft

The transition to cloud based services in Lagos is coming into fruition as the Lagos Infraco, Main One, plans to offer pervasive fibre and is launching Infrastructure as a Service with EMC and Microsoft.

Main One’s independent data centre in Lagos was launched in mid-January this year. It has 600 racks and is adjacent to its cable landing station in Lekki.

According to Ms. Funke Opeke, Main One’s Chief Executive Officer, “Interest globally has been phenomenal” but it hasn’t yet sold a lot of racks. Nevertheless, it is aiming the facility at three categories of customers. The most obvious category is banks and businesses that are putting more of their business online.”

In order to do this, they have a need to step up their data centre infrastructure and also require a back-up facility for their growing data centre: “We’ve had a bank at the cable landing station for two years and they’ve moved to the new data centre.” Some visitors to the new data have been sufficiently impressed with the new facility that they are considering making it their primary data centre.

The second categories of customers are tech companies that need to be able to offer data centre services as well as connectivity and connections to other networks. In due course, as with Teraco in South Africa, the data centre is likely to become a significant meet point for a variety of different operators: “We’re the best connected data centre. All the large operators and ISPs are connected with us and we connect to as many as 10 major operators. We’re becoming a meet point.”

Indeed Main One is partnering with two of these tech companies – EMC and Microsoft – to launch an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) product in April. This includes things like private clouds, virtual LANs, cloud hosting on virtual servers and virtual data centres:”We’re currently running a couple of pilot customers and want to be able to offer this for e-commerce companies in Nigeria.”

The data centre sector in Nigeria is a combination of proprietary facilities run by mobile operators and ISPs and independent facilities. There are currently two main independent facilities, Main One and Rack Centre, the former is in Lekki and the latter in Ikeja.

But as Opeke observes: “Two data centres do not an industry make so we continue to collaborate. If someone wants to make us their primary data centre, then they can back up at Rack Centre and vice versa.” MTN is also upgrading its data centre but beyond that there are only relatively small facilities.

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