Opinion: Demystifying Data Centres

The 3rd and 4th industrial revolution conceptualized rapid change to technology which necessitated a need for enterprises to move away from traditional and archaic forms of data collection such as bookkeeping and arch lever filing, to more technologically advanced methods which would foster efficiency in the workforce and offer a sense of security for documents stored at offices. The digital revolution became a catalyst that led to the introduction of data centres i.e., a facility composed of networked computers, storage systems and computing infrastructure that organizations use to assemble, process, store and disseminate large amounts of data. 

As a result of this perfect storm of technological transformation, organizations in Botswana were not to be left behind.  Pockets of data centres started emerging, showing how progressive Botswana is when it comes to digital and technological transformation.

What’s with the hype?

Data centres bring commercial and reputational value, enterprise data centres increasingly incorporate facilities for securing and protecting cloud computing resources in-house and on-site resources.  

Data centres are at the heart of economic growth in Africa and without them, developing rich and self-sufficient ICT ecosystems cannot happen. These facilities are the lifeblood of every business and the foundation of the internet itself, with thousands of networks and connections meeting there.

What are the advantages associated with the use of data centres?  

  • An organisation gains total control over its servers, as a result, it can modify systems at its own convenience without traveling to a remote location to perform hardware, software upgrades/repairs or without relying on third-party services to perform those functions. The ability to be versatile allows for customization, which can be very useful for large systems which run diverse or specialized applications. This versatility enables the organisation to adapt to any shifting business or market demands.
  • There is uninterrupted access to servers without any fear of losing information due to backup of systems. Therefore, during a power outage or other disturbance, there is a reduced likelihood of loss of information.
  • Another trite benefit of using data centres is data security. With the rise in cyber-attacks on companies, there has been a gaping need to intensify security measures so as to avert the consequences associated with data loss. Data centres can prove to be a much more secure option for data storage than traditional storage methods.
  • Many organizations have complex compliance needs that they are hesitant to entrust to a third party. By keeping everything in-house, they can continuously monitor their compliance status to mitigate risk.

Disadvantages and Risks associated with data centres? 

  • Every responsibility for all aspects of infrastructure provisioning, troubleshooting, and data centre management fall to the organisation. Which may result in exorbitant costs for the business. Moreover, the infrastructure ought to be serviced at regular intervals which will lead to the organisation incurring more expenses. 
  • Redundancy can be more challenging. Small and mid-sized organisations may struggle to afford divergent internet connections and robust emergency facilities. 
  • In house data centres have often been said to be inflexible. This is because an in-house data solution was likely designed to handle the network demands and capacity needed at the time it was built, but usually nothing more than that. That means if demand increases or if new services need to be offered, new equipment or software will need to be provisioned and installed. This process can take a great deal of time, and by the time work is completed, the business opportunity may have passed. Unless the infrastructure was built with scalability in mind, this is likely to be a major issue as a business grows. In fact, it is likely to throttle growth opportunities.
  • In addition to being outdated, many on-premises solutions lack extensive backup systems to provide for disaster recovery capabilities. In fact, if the system is functioning at capacity, without redundancies built in, the system is in danger of a crash. Without sufficient backup, networks and services may suffer from frequent system downtime. 

Of course, these risks can be mitigated with proper planning (ensuring that systems are adequately maintained, flexible/adaptable and secure) as well as financial resources.


In summation, the data centre industry has the potential for significant growth, especially as a result of the growing demand for data centre services brought on by technological trends including the digitization of information, the expansion of electronic commerce, and the adoption of cloud computing. Data centres will serve as the strategic nerve centres of Botswana's networks, guiding the country's Smart Bots and Digital Transformation projects, and luring and hosting important regional and global ICT giants like Microsoft, Google, and others. Also, data centres will allow for data localization, and Botswana will gain complete control and become custodians of its data, having the absolute autonomy to process its data as it sees fit and within the prescripts of its data legislations. 

By Lebogang George

Lebogang George is an admitted attorney in Botswana and an associate in the Corporate Commercial Department at Desai Law Group. She spent more than a decade working in South Africa. It is in South Africa where she expanded her knowledge and focus on Corporate Commercial Law as well as Data Privacy and Data Protection Law, IT Governance as well as Cyber Security. 

Lebogang's experience in Data Protection and Privacy Law spans across South Africa and the European Union and has advised clients in both public and private sectors. She has recently taken a keen interest in the Botswana Data Protection Act and provides advice on the Botswana DPA. 

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