The need to have data hosted locally is a major concern of the government and other stakeholders. Head of Marketing at Cloudwafer, a Lagos based hosting company, Olawole Olayinka, talks on data sovereignty and challenges of doing business in Nigeria with IT Edge News, Anthony Nwosu and Oluwatobi Opusunju.
What’s the business focus of Cloudwafer?
We offer simple, fast and reliable cloud VPS hosting for business applications. Cloudwafer is an African cloud hosting company, established with the vision of providing highly available, scalable, and performance-based cloud hosting solutions. We have a team that boasts over a decade of hosting and infrastructure experience supporting large-scale customers. We realized that cloud computing is the way to go and also economically viable for most organizations so we are in the business of bringing cloud and making it affordable to Nigerians.
Tell us more about your cloud hosting service?
A cloud server is a virtual server that runs in a cloud computing environment. It is built and delivered in a cloud environment via the internet to the end user. Our cloud hosting service also known as Virtual Private Servers (VPS) offers highly available enterprise-grade cloud technology to businesses with the advantage of flexibility, expert support and extreme security. Our cloud services are powered by a Tier III datacenter and premium upstream networks. Cloudwafer delivers custom cloud hosting with huge room for expansion so that we can cater for small and large scale operations instantly and without disruptions.
What prompted you to go into this line of service delivery?
It is very common for businesses in Nigeria to rely on foreign hosting platforms to cater for their cloud hosting needs. Our decision to start a cloud hosting platform was made out of the need to bridge this gap in the Nigerian market. We studied the market and identified the reasons why people preferred to host outside the country instead of locally. Some of these reasons include downtimes and poor customer support. This helped us know the weak points and strengthen them. We brought a hosting platform that delivers and cancels the need to seek hosting companies outside Nigeria. One unique thing about our hosting service is that our data is hosted in a Tier III data centre here in Lagos, thus reducing latency for anyone using our hosting service here in Nigeria. A lot of people do not realize that the closer your data is housed to you, the faster it is to communicate with your data remotely. Latency reduction was a major reason why we decided to deliver cloud hosting services here in Nigeria.
Are Nigerians beginning to accept local hosting companies?
While we would love to say that most Nigerians host their cloud locally, we cannot. The terrain has improved a lot but it is not where it should be. Most people do not realize that the distance data has to travel between user and server affects the speed. The number of ‘hops’ from router to router slows down delivery of data to the user. Another major factor is that most Nigerian hosting companies are resellers who resell hosting plans for foreign companies. Effectively, when you think you are hosting locally, you may just find out that your host is a reseller for a foreign host and that your server is in faraway Europe or America.
“A lot of Nigerians still patronize foreign hosting companies when they can get better services from a local company. We are faced with the challenge of convincing them to come on board. Their reluctance is understandable considering what bad experience they have had in the past with local hosts.”
The perception is that hosting in Nigeria is a bit risky and expensive isn’t?
Any venture becomes risky when you patronize unreliable vendors. Expensive is relative too. If you are getting your money’s worth, you cannot say a service is too expensive. It is when you pay and do not get good service that the service becomes expensive. We can confidently say that hosting with Cloudwafer is not risky nor is it expensive. In the last five years we have powered several businesses, small and big, with average uptime of 99.9%.
You operate in a Tier III data center; does it have any effect on your services?
There are several advantages to operating in a Tier III data center. One of them is uptime. Our data center boasts of 100% availability since launch. The data centre facility and business is certified to ISO 27001, the global information security quality standard which is ideal for financial service providers looking for maximum security.
What are the challenges that you encounter in running this business?
Like we mentioned earlier, a lot of Nigerians still patronize foreign hosting companies when they can get better services from a local company. We are faced with the challenge of convincing them to come on board. Their reluctance is understandable considering what bad experience they have had in the past with local hosts. Another major challenge is the cost of running a business in Nigeria, which is a general challenge to all entrepreneurs in Nigeria.
Is cloud hosting with dedicated server services readily accepted in Nigeria?
Both cloud hosting and dedicated server services have been accepted in Nigeria. A lot of businesses in Nigeria, ranging from small businesses to huge corporations use cloud hosting services for their websites and other internet platforms. Also, several companies with unique data hosting needs use dedicated servers in Nigeria. So, yes, acceptance in Nigeria is picking up too.
Data hosting and digital transformation work hand in hand, but there is a gap in adopting green practices why it is like this?
The simple answer is that energy sources in Nigeria are not eco-friendly. You have to power with diesel generators most of the time. Using environment-friendly energy sources is not a viable option in Nigeria because of availability. Adopting green practices is going to require a lot of transformation in public policy and the improvement of infrastructure so that businesses can easily switch to eco-friendly energy sources and operations.
Why is the hosting cost still high in Nigeria?
Like we said earlier, the cost of doing business is high. However, it is not entirely true that the cost of hosting is high in Nigeria. Compared to what is offered by hosting companies outside Nigeria and factoring in foreign exchange, Cloudwafer offers competitive prices for all our hosting services.
NiRA has encouraged registrars like you to push .ng and .com.ng domains, but it seems Nigerians are still stuck with .com. How can this be changed?
You would agree that the .com domains were quite common already before .ng and .com.ng were introduced. They have gained wide acceptance among internet users and the first impulse of any web browser is to add the .com extension to any name they are given. However, NiRA has been proactive in their campaign for the use of .com.ng and .ng so we can see improvements already. The .ng awards by NiRA are a really nice initiative to drive this. We at Cloudwafer also do our bit; you can get a .ng domain on Cloudwafer for as low as 450 naira.
In the area of data sovereignty, do you think Nigeria is doing enough to have majority of our data hosted locally?
There have been discussions on the issue of local data residency in Nigeria and with the availability of data centres in Nigeria; it does not seem an impossible task. However, we still see that a lot of Nigerian data is hosted outside the country. The government and the relevant agencies would need to improve enforcement of data sovereignty policies. Hopefully, this position will change and we will start to see a massive movement of Nigerian data to Nigerian data centres as is the practice in Europe and America.
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