KENYAN ENGINEERS GET HANDS ON TRAINING

Senior Workonline Communications engineer, Michelle Opiyo, gives us the lowdown on the recent Advanced Routing Workshop that Workonline offered in conjunction with Tespok early in November.

During the advanced routing workshop, the participants had an opportunity to gain practical skills and gain in-depth understanding of Internet interconnection, explore IPv6 and most importantly build their networks and become part of a community of engineers. Indeed, some attendees got to solve operational issues on the spot just from being in the room with someone who had dealt with a similar issue before, and sharing experiences with one another. This is exactly why we host these training sessions, not because we have all the answers but because when we come together everyone's contribution adds to the whole.

The four-day course set out to equip network engineers with the skills required to configure and operate large scale networks using Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) according to the current industry best practices. This is important because the Internet relies on individual interconnected networks to act for their own good as well as the good of their directly connected networks to achieve end-to-end connectivity and enhance security.

Workshops like these give engineers the opportunity to practise complex concepts in a safe lab environment and empower trainees with practical skills that are immediately transferrable onto their own networks. Participants were able to relate their day-to-day activities to the course content and better understand how to build scalable networks and leverage their peering and transit relationships. This helps them improve network performance and user experience as well as drive down their cost of operations by efficiently utilising available resources.

Not only was the recent workshop attended equally by men and women, it was led and organised by a female team. A clear sign that women are stepping up and showing up to the proverbial table within the community.

From here, we’ll continue to build the community of network engineers through programs such as these, as well as Beers for Engineers to encourage growth of the peering community within the region. We also have plans to run the same course purely from an IPv6 perspective to catalyse deployment of IPv6 within the service provider networks, so watch this space…


ZAPF #3 : an engineer's perspective

Report from the third ZAPF event: GOTI, WCNOG & telemetry monitoring

We co-hosted the third South African Peering Forum in Cape Town, South Africa in November, during AfricaCom week. It was the biggest meeting yet, with sponsors including Workonline, AMS-IX, DE-CIX, Facebook, Flexoptix and LINX. Thank you to all, this wouldn’t be possible without you.

Workonline senior network engineer, Robert Jooste, shares his highlights of the day:

Andrew Owens from NAPAfrica shared news of an interesting Teraco initiative that is intended to benefit the Internet in South Africa. They have launched a cabinet called the Good Of The Internet (GOTI) where people can host services and kit that is of benefit to the entire industry. Currently it is only serving DNS servers, but the plan is to expand this over time. A fundamental principle of the GOTI cabinet, however, is that it cannot offer services for free that other ISPs would charge for, or would compete with customers of Teraco. I’m very keen to see what will happen with this cabinet and how it would change the Internet in Southern Africa for the better.

After Edrich De Lange from INX-ZA and Thusa Connect spoke about the success of KZNNOG and the “basic formula” it follows, the room erupted with excitement as the Cape Town community discussed the feasibility of creating their own network operators’ group. A 15 minute talk soon turned into a 45 minute session as the founding of the Western Cape Network Operators Group (WCNOG) was discussed. In fact, the new NOG bagged its first two sponsors for its first two meetups then and there. A mailing list was set up, and once logistics are finalised, you should look out for the kick-off of the WCNOG!

As an active member of the KZNNOG, I can say that this is a very exciting thing to happen in our community. This allows us, the network operators, to regularly expand on issues that we face, collectively work on solutions and then implement them. This also hopefully heralds more active involvement by the South African Internet community in discussing, voting and making a difference to the Internet in Africa and policies within AfriNIC.

Andrew Alston from Liquid Telecom spoke about telemetry monitoring which is set to totally change the way we monitor our networks. Telemetry monitoring will replace simple network management protocol  (SNMP) completely, which is good news as SNMP is slow and causes our routers to work harder than they should. By contrast, telemetry monitoring is easy on the routers and updates happen in real time as opposed to the 5 minute average that SNMP offers. This is a fairly new thing in networking as it has only been around for about two years.

For more about the South African Peering Forum, see www.zapf.co.za


OUR GATEWAY FOR AFRICA THROUGH SINGAPORE

WORKONLINE AND EQUINIX ESTABLISH GATEWAY FOR AFRICA THROUGH SINGAPORE

Tuesday, November 13, 2018 – Cape Town & Singapore:

Workonline Communications, one of Africa’s top three transit networks, has established a Point of Presence (POP) in the Equinix Singapore data centre, effectively establishing a gateway between networks in Africa and Asia-Pacific.

Workonline Communications is a leading provider of IP transit and wholesale connectivity services in Africa. Workonline operates multiple POPs across Europe and Africa. This expansion into Singapore extends the edge of the company’s network into Asia-Pacific and will significantly improve performance between Southern Africa and Asia-Pacific.

“Through this expansion, we now offer an important opportunity for Asian networks looking to reach Africa with the lowest possible latency. Workonline’s primary path is over the South Africa Far East (SAFE) cable system between South Africa and Singapore, which provides much better performance than current market alternatives,” says Edward Lawrence, Director of Business Development at Workonline Communications.

Due to the choice of cable system, combined with the deployment in Singapore, Workonline can now provide its customers with the lowest latencies possible between the Southern Africa and Asia-Pacific regions. The latency on the Workonline network between Johannesburg and Singapore now stands at 117ms, compared with approx. 397ms when using traditional paths via Europe.

After careful consideration, Workonline chose to deploy in the Equinix SG1 International Business Exchange™ (IBX®) data centre, one of the three data centres in Singapore, namely SG1, SG2 and SG3. Equinix Singapore data centre campus is Asia-Pacific’s network hub, with the most networked data centres in the region. The campus houses many of the international and regional networks connecting South Asia, and is also the leading point of access to one of the world’s three Global Roaming Exchange (GRX) peering points. There is a dense concentration of financial services companies, cloud services, biomedical sciences, IT, communications, media, physical sciences and engineering industries.

Equinix is a global Interconnection and data centre company, operating 200 carrier-neutral data centres across over 52 metros. Through Platform Equinix®, which provides access to vital ecosystems, customers can interconnect to one another and to more than 1,800 available networks, as well as more than 2,900 cloud & IT providers. This means users can reach 80% of the world’s population in less than 20 milliseconds, inside the most interconnected data centres in the world.

Andrew Rigoli, Vice President of Corporate Development & Strategy, Equinix Asia-Pacific said, “As a regional Interconnection hub, Equinix data centres in Singapore house dense networks, cloud and IT ecosystems that will enable Workonline Communications to provide its customers with low latency and high performing communications services. At the same time, Workonline Communications can utilize Equinix facility in Singapore as a gateway to other Asian markets.”
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About Workonline
Workonline (AS 37271) is the fastest growing IP transit network in Africa and one of the largest in Africa. The company is focused on providing highly scalable, high quality, and flexible service options to meet the needs of carriers, Internet service providers, content providers, and mobile operators. @wolcomm


123NET extends Workonline relationship for West Coast

Fibre ISP 123NET extends Workonline relationship for West Coast expansion

Already a long-term customer of Workonline, it was an obvious choice who to turn to for IP transit and connectivity when KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa based 123NET expanded its FTTx services to Melkbosstrand near Cape Town.

“We need a reliable IP transit provider so that all our different customers’ expectations, whether home or business users, are met,” said Kalin Bogatzevski, CEO of 123Net. “It is very easy to work with the professionals at Workonline. We give them our target, explain our needs, and soon we have a solution that works in terms of quality and price.

“The biggest challenge users face is South Africa is the lack of high quality and well-priced Internet Access services in South Africa. Now South Africans have the chance to jump directly to the cutting edge thanks to the fibre technologies we use, combined with the IP transit we take from Workonline.”

The 123NET team builds its own fibre infrastructure, from digging the trenches, laying the pipes, rolling out the fibre, splicing, and connecting last-mile customers. They then support and manage the entire service themselves. Their services are currently available in Umhlanga and Durban North, and Melkbosstrand is currently under construction with the first customers already connected.


Entersekt taps Workonline for resiliency and redundancy

Mobile-first fintech service provider Entersekt taps Workonline for international resiliency and redundancy

Entersekt is a Stellenbosch-headquartered software company serving financial institutions and other service providers in Africa, Europe and North America, so the redundancy and resiliency of its services are paramount. To ensure this, when it recently established a new hosting facility for its client-facing services in Cape Town, South Africa it specifically selected multiple transit providers, including Workonline, that use a wide range of international cable systems.

“We prefer to employ services from transit providers that have a good local and international peering footprint. Highly reliable local and international connectivity and optimal latency are both key to our business,” said Albertus van der Vyver, cloud architect at Entersekt. “We also see it as an advantage to purchase transit from a wholesaler with direct international reach, to simplify and expedite turnaround time for issues related to international peering problems or carrier outages. Pricing is also a very important factor. For us, Workonline met all these requirements.”

Entersekt’s investment in the provision of high quality IP services for the distribution of their software has meant that they can offer their end users with higher levels of resiliency and reliability, resulting in a superior user experience. Their market-leading authentication and app security product, Transakt, is used by millions of people in 45 countries to secure their mobile and online banking and m- and e-commerce payments. Entersekt has recently also expanded into mobile payment enablement, providing banks with a growing menu of third-party mobile payment services which they can quickly and easily switch on within their own apps.


JACKIE MWAI TALKS EAST AFRICA

We checked in with Jackie on what’s going on in the East African ICT market, and the role Workonline is playing. She also shares her tips for doing business in East Africa.

East Africa has come a long way, with affordable internet coupled with smartphone adoption leading to growth of the ICT market in both the public and private sectors of the economy. As a result, we now have much higher ICT penetration levels than was earlier forecast.

The unification of business, legal and regulatory frameworks has positioned East Africa as a solid economic bloc. This has led to innovation, service diversification and network sharing, not forgetting the increase in regional connectivity, convergence and disruptive Internet of Things (IoT).

As more organisations slowly migrate their ICT assets to cloud architecture, the role of robust, flexible and open access networks can no longer be under-estimated in East Africa. At Workonline, we are proud to enable an open and fair competitive environment. We are here to bring a fresh wave of strategic partnerships, flexibility, experience and knowledge into the region.

We look forward to the development of a vibrant, sustainable, growth-orientated ecosystem in East Africa.

Top tips for doing business in East Africa:

Have a passion for the industry
Understand the business culture across the region.
Form strategic partnerships
Take a customer-centric approach


ATOMIC ACCESS LAUNCHES WITH WORKONLINE

What happens when a group of tech savvy entrepreneurial friends start imagining their ideal fibre ISP? One where they would get the speeds that they paid for and weren’t just a number in a support queue. They go ahead and build it, of course. Which is exactly what the founders of Cape Town-based ISP, Atomic Access did, launching to friends and family in February this year and officially in August 2018.

Workonline has been there from the get-go, offering not only competitive prices on IP transit, but a minimum committed rate and burst peak rate commercial structure that suited Atomic’s needs. This meant that Atomic only signed up for a small bill but had the ability to ramp up traffic if they needed to as they grew. Which they did, and at that point Workonline offered them the flexibility to renegotiate their contract much sooner than anticipated.

“Workonline has allowed us to hit the ground running with their very competitive pricing and was key to helping us launch our ISP,” says Nicholas Soper, Atomic Access MD and co-founder.

But it's not only the affordability and flexible pricing that was important to Atomic. “The free IPv6 transit is very cool and pushed us to be a dual-stack ISP from the get go,” says Soper.

And the third piece of the puzzle, says Soper, making Workonline an important partner for this feisty new ISP, is the people. “They are approachable and friendly, knowledgeable and experienced, and care about the upstream issues that affect us,” says Soper.