The new Africa.INX exchange will be ready to go live as planned on 1 March, having established a best-practice, fully-redundant network.
As South Africa’s first and only independent network exchange, Africa.INX aims to break the stranglehold that incumbent telco operators have traditionally held over the market.
With a number of local players already onboard and the establishment of a fully redundant network running to schedule, CEO Eduard du Plessis is confident that it will meet its 1 March deadline.
The company has partnered with a number of service partners, including Sat3, Seacom, Teraco and various international tier one ISPs to ensure that South African and international clients alike, receive an unrivalled, world-class carrier service.
Africa.INX has employed Juniper standards and technology across the board with the development of its network, and has redundancy systems in place for both North/South and East/West system failures – a feat, which until very recently, had not been accomplished even by South African tier one ISPs.
The fully-redundant network has been achieved by establishing dual connections into London, using both the Sat3 and Seacom submarine fibre optic cable systems. The network terminates into two separate data centres which in turn utilise two individual data nodes. From the data nodes, the network connects into two different tier one service providers.
On South African shores the system is just as comprehensive.
Du Plessis explains: "Africa.INX has established two separate data nodes in both of the major business centres in South Africa – namely Johannesburg and Cape Town. These nodes are connected to metro Ethernet rings. As a result of the network ring topology, we have created fully redundant systems. This means that if a break occurs anywhere on the network ring, connectivity will not be lost.
"The company also provides close proximity last mile access for its customers, which simplifies the process of establishing a cost-effective link into the network.
"Above and beyond the stipulated criteria within our initial rollout plan, we have also established data nodes in both Port Elizabeth and Durban. Durban is redundantly connected into two separate data nodes located in Johannesburg, while a similar system has been employed to redundantly connect Port Elizabeth into the Cape Town system."
Africa.INX has established various NNIs (Network to Network Interfaces) in London which allow other networks to expand throughout the developed world. In turn, the Africa.INX network attains a similar level of coverage and can effectively spread into almost any country in the world. According to du Plessis these NNIs have been developed to accepted industry best practices.
Africa.INX is utilising two industry standards on its network – MPLS and VPLS. By running an MPLS layer across the network, the company is able to run both Internet and private network services across the same shared network. Africa.INX's VPLS standard is an accredited Juniper standard, which customers experience as an end to end switch network. This simplifies ease of use and connection for the end user.
To ensure the network is as easy to use as possible for its end users, Africa.inx is using a routing protocol across the switched fabric layer and a part PDM fabric layer to achieve simplicity.
"We have implemented multiple complex technologies which require a high level of skill to run effectively in the background. Effectively these measures ensure that our clients do not have to undertake any technical steps to achieve connectivity," says Du Plessis. "All that an ISP needs to do to achieve connectivity is plug into our network."
Africa.INX has made the connection process straightforward in order to allow international ISPs to utilise a VPOP service. This allows the international ISPs to establish a presence within the country without having to install any infrastructure. By facilitating this process, Africa.INX allows international ISPs to connect directly to their South African customers through the Africa .INX network.
In addition to establishing partnerships with international carriers, Africa.INX has signed a partner agreement with Teraco – South Africa's first international standards based data centre. This partnership has significant ramifications for international and local consumers alike.
Du Plessis explains: "In South Africa our data centres are traditionally owned and controlled by the ISPs which they serve. At the moment there is not a single ISP in the country which will allow you to utilise its data centre without using its carrier service. By doing this, carriers are effectively holding their clients' servers, applications and data hostage to their carrier service.
"We have found that international companies would rather develop their own data centres to avoid this type of unethical lock-in. With the establishment of Teraco, a new option is available to our clients. Teraco operates as a co-location centre, allowing numerous carriers into the data centre. This gives clients complete freedom of choice when it comes to selecting a carrier and a network."