The Mediterranean region has to yet draw full benefit from international strategic investments. The absence of which leaves it, in many areas, at a competitive disadvantage. We can notice the region being often overlooked by international players, one explanation for this being its lack of internet penetration: in the African continent, 450 million people are yet to be connected to the internet.
The technology sector is a good example. Digital disruption is fueled by massive investments in global cloud regions by the hyperscale platforms, such as Microsoft Azure, AWS, Google Cloud, Oracle Cloud, Alibaba and others. Synergy Research Group reports accelerating investment around the globe, with hyperscale capex up 53% year-on-year in 2018*.
In contrast, until 2018, none of the hyperscale cloud platform providers had invested in deployment of a cloud region serving the Mediterranean and Northern Africa. As a result, the region is way behind in cloud adoption. In 2013, less than 50% of organizations in Africa were using the cloud, and whilst adoption has picked up since, the continent remains significantly behind global adoption figures. When it comes to “IT readiness” with regards to cloud adoption, South Africa – as one of the most advanced countries in the region – only reaches a 10.3, in comparison to Singapore (20.7) or the UK (19.8), according to the 2018 BSA Global Cloud Computing Scorecard. The lack of cloud infrastructure deployment in the region has created a competitive disadvantage for local enterprises to achieve their digital transformation objectives and compete in an increasingly global market.
To stay ahead in a global race of digitalization, organisations need to constantly improve user experience and develop new products faster to reduce their time-to-market. Intelligent cloud services like artificial intelligence, machine learning, IoT, and others can greatly facilitate this, and therefore, access to cloud platforms is crucial to digital innovation.
Clearly organisations in the region have been able to leverage cloud regions in e.g. Northern Europe, the UAE, or – more recently – South Africa, but physical distance to these regions created significant networking challenges in terms of availability, performance, and costs. To illustrate, a company in Northern Africa looking to access a cloud region in Northern Europe would typically experience a round-trip delay of 60-90ms and would incur significant bandwidth costs, especially if large data sets are involved. Many businesses run business-critical applications over Internet connections, with all the risks involved in terms of performance, reliability and security. In summary, you are not equal when you need to access to the clouds, whether you are a company located in e.g. Algeria or Egypt, rather than e.g. Netherlands or Switzerland.
These barriers have been removed since leading cloud service providers decided to deploy their network nodes in Marseille: Amazon Direct Connect, Microsoft ExpressRoute and Google Cloud Infrastructure. These PoPs allow regional carriers, IT service providers and enterprise IT departments to interconnect directly to cloud platforms bypassing the public Internet, resolving the performance and security issues of the public internet. A massive game-changer in terms of performance, security and cost-effectiveness!
The choice of cloud service providers to deploy network nodes in Marseille was not a coincidence. Located at the crossroads of submarine cables from Africa, Southern Europe, Middle East and Asia Pac and terrestrial European cable systems, Marseille has in recent years become a major connectivity and content hub. With 14 submarine cables, including the latest generation AAE-1 and SeaMeWe5, the city is directly connecting 43 countries and more than 4.5 billion people. As such, the city has become a vital gateway to dozens of countries in Africa, Middle East and Asia.
The landing point of these submarine cable systems and European terrestrial networks is Interxion’s Marseille data center campus, which in addition to these submarine cable systems connects more than 150 connectivity providers, 4 internet exchanges, as well as some major international content providers.
Interxion Marseille Campus – Cable map
Interxion is investing significantly to build a highly scalable and secure data centre campus in Marseille. With 2 data centres already operational and 1 under construction, Interxion invests to provide the necessary layer of infrastructure for digital businesses to grow. The campus allows regional and global networks to interconnect, international content and cloud service providers to serve the MENA region, and MENA organizations connect and deploy hybrid cloud infrastructure in close proximity to the leading cloud service providers.
Interxion introduced few years ago a new bespoke cloud access service which enables private connections to multiple cloud providers from one physical location. In addition to Microsoft, AWS or Google Cloud, Interxion customers based in Marseille can use Cloud Connect service to connect other cloud service providers such as City Cloud, IBM or Oracle.
The presence of leading cloud access points in Marseille, in combination with Interxion’s investment in a regional connectivity hub will level the playing field of digital transformation for companies across the Middle East and Northern Africa region.
For more information about Interxion’s Marseille connectivity hub, visit our Marseille Campus webpage.