Member of the Board, Deputy Chairman of the Management Board of Kazteleport JSC Syrym TOLEULIYEV:
IT IS MORE COST-EFFICIENT FOR COMPANIES TO RENT DATA PROCESSING CENTERS FROM PROFESSIONALS
Kazteleport JSC launched a new cloud provider SmartCloud in Uzbekistan and is building a new Data Processing Center (DPC) Ereymentau in Astana, with TIER3 certification. SmartCloud clients have access to services such as IaaS, object storage, backup, and protection against cyber threats. The Ereymentau data processing center will have 100 server cabinets. In an interview with the Interfax-Kazakhstan agency, Deputy Chairman of the Board of Kazteleport JSC Syrym TOLEULIYEV spoke about cloud services and the specific features of the Ereymentau data processing center.
- A subsidiary organization, part of Kazteleport JSC, launched the SmartCloud platform in Uzbekistan. Why was Uzbekistan chosen?
- One of the main directions of the company development in the medium term is scaling the business and developing technological infrastructure in Kazakhstan and the countries of Central Asia. We are bringing our services and customer service standards to the market of neighboring countries and expanding our own network of data centers, certifying them according to Uptime Institute standards. Preference was given to Uzbekistan since the region is similar to the Kazakh vector of economic development and interests. We see a good prospect in Uzbekistan: the digital transformation of the country is the most important development factor for market players, which contributes to healthy competition. Despite the fact that the market for cloud services and data centers in Uzbekistan is just emerging, and has its own operators, there is currently an increase in the number of foreign companies. Kazakh companies also began to work in Uzbekistan, and many of them are our customers. They open branches in Uzbekistan and can choose a familiar and trusted operator accordingly.
- What services are available to SmartCloud clients now and which new services are going to appear?
- In Uzbekistan, we offer cloud computing power. We provide medium and large businesses with a ready-made infrastructure, so that they can concentrate on their business and take their mind off servers, cables, and data transmission channels. We ensure the full provision of all those. Our customers can place their applications, as well as the software or software development required for business. Currently, the following services are available there: infrastructure as a service, rental of computing resources and disk space and related services - backup, data storage, service for protecting infrastructure from external network threats. This portfolio will be supplemented and developed, based on the user needs. Next year we plan to begin construction of our own data center in Uzbekistan. We will add a co-location service for those customers who, for various reasons, cannot place their data in the cloud.
- How is confidentiality and protection of customer data ensured under the legislation of Uzbekistan?
- For this, a set of various measures is used, which includes technical means, processes, and methodological work. Due to the similarity of the legislation in both countries, we use best practice - the practices, skills and experience of our cybersecurity team, as well as the software developed in Kazakhstan. Information security requirements are the same all over the world. The legislation of different countries makes its own adjustments, but the global standards are the same.
- What prospects do you see for the development of cloud services in Uzbekistan and how do you plan to adapt your offers to these needs?
- We assume that the cloud services market in Uzbekistan is now at the formation stage and will follow global trends. First there will be demand for simple services, such as virtual servers and IaaS, then the demand for PaaS, SaaS and other high-level services will appear. Due to the economic structure of Uzbekistan, this process will occur quickly, and the local market will very soon catch up with the Kazakh market.
Cloud services are conventionally divided into three levels: IaaS, PaaS, SaaS. Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) is when the customer rents only the computing resources and network infrastructure of the operator, but uses his own software. The operator ensures uninterrupted operation only of the hardware, network and virtualization system. Platform as a service (PaaS) is a more complicated service; the customer has access not only to the provider’s infrastructure, but also to platforms, a set of tools for creating applications via the Internet - a customized environment for software developers. Software as a service (SaaS) is when ready-to-use software is provided to the customer. This software can be targeted to a specific industry and type of user activity. In-depth knowledge of the industry is required. This is one of the reasons why the local cloud providers offer only IaaS and PaaS services. The other reason is their versatility and possibility of use regardless of the type of the customer’s activity.
-What resources and specialists do you have to support and service customers in Uzbekistan?
- Now we have a sales office in Uzbekistan. The cloud platform is serviced from the central office in Almaty. At present Kazteleport is the optimal approach to maintaining a high level of SLA. In the short term, we will create the first local line of support to resolve simple technical issues or fulfill customer requests. The second and third levels of support will remain in Kazakhstan for now. Work is already underway to train personnel for the first line of support services. After completion of the data center construction, in addition to the cloud services team, a local staff of engineering infrastructure specialists will be hired. Same as in Kazakhstan, a mandatory, regular training and certification plan for all specialists servicing the data center and its customers will be developed.
-The construction of Data Processing Center (DPC) Ereymentau, with TIER3 certification is currently under way in Astana. When do you plan to launch it?
-The launch is planned for the first quarter of next year. Construction is in full swing.
- The design documentation of the Ereymentau data processing center in Astana received certification from the independent authoritative organization Uptime Institute at the Tier3 Design level. Is it difficult to pass this certification? Could you tell more about this?
- Certification of the data center at the Tier 3 Design level from the Uptime Institute is recognition of the high level of reliability and availability of design documentation for the data center. Completing this certification is a complex process that requires strict adherence to the standards and guidelines set by the Uptime Institute.
Tier 3 Design is one of the data center availability classification levels that takes into account both the design and physical equipment of the data center. Some key features of the Tier 3 Design include: two independent power supplies and dual power distribution systems; two independent air conditioning systems; protection against physical threats, such as fires, floods and unauthorized access to the monitoring and control system, to ensure constant monitoring and control of the operation of the data center; availability of developed plans and procedures for managing failures and emergency situations.
Passing Tier 3 Design certification includes assessment of design documentation, inspection and audit by Uptime Institute experts. These experts verify that your design meets Tier 3 Design standards and ensures the reliability and availability of your data center. To obtain this certification, we studied the requirements and recommendations of the Uptime Institute and collaborated with experts in the design and construction of data centers. Now we are preparing to confirm the compliance of the constructed data center with the approved project and obtain Tier 3 Facility certification.
- What number data processing center is this in Astana?
- This is the third data center in Astana, and the eighth in Kazakhstan. Regarding certification, this is the second data center that is certified and meets the Tier3 certification level. In Astana and Almaty these are data centers with a capacity of 100-120 racks.
- What are the characteristics of "Ereymentau"? Does the new data center have any specific technological features, taking the climatic conditions of Astana into account?
- The most difficult place to build a data center is where it’s hot. Servers heat up during operation and require cooling. We need more powerful air conditioners and higher energy costs. In Astana it is easier in this regard, because the cool period lasts longer, air conditioners do not operate at full capacity and free-cooling technology is used, which involves taking air from outside, filtering it and running it into the turbine room. This technology is used all over the world. During the construction of the data center in Astana, reliable technologies and approaches were chosen; reliability and the ratio of the affordable cost of services for the client, as well as the payback of the entire project were prioritized. Otherwise, the data center under construction in Astana is very similar to the Sairam data center in Almaty.
- Why was it decided to launch another data center?
- There were several prerequisites. The main one is the complete filling of the physical infrastructure of our existing data centers. Demand for colocation services in Kazakhstan is high. If previously companies and banks built their own small data centers, now the trend has changed, and companies began to rent ready-made data centers, entrusting specific processes and services to a reliable provider, and incurring costs only for renting the required volume of services and level of service. As I said above, analysis of the global market for data center services and cloud services predicts continued growth in demand in the medium term. This is due to the development of the global economy, approaches to doing business and, as a result, an increase in the volume of data that needs to be stored, processed and analyzed. More and more equipment, servers, and data centers are required to host the equipment. The most important thing is that Kazakh companies understand that building their own data centers is not profitable; it requires large capital investments. It's better to rent from professionals like us. Another important prerequisite is Kazteleport own need for a reliable infrastructure to maintain fault tolerance and develop Kazteleport cloud services. In addition, infrastructure expansion and construction of data centers helps to develop other areas of the company’s business. Kazteleport offers services in the market in three areas, which, if necessary, can all be used by the customer: the first is telecommunications, communication services, Internet access, data transmission channels; the second is data center services and cloud services; the third is cybersecurity services. The symbiosis of services allows us to provide fault-tolerant, high-quality service from a single provider. This is convenient for customers.
- Who are the potential customers of the data center in Astana?
- Our services are intended mainly for medium and large businesses that have their own equipment and their own large information system that needs to be located somewhere. We also have cloud services for small businesses and individual developers. The main client segment is banks and other financial organizations, representative offices of foreign companies, and large retail chains. The data center in Astana involves providing services to the organizations that assign importance to the confirmation of the Tier3 certificate. We are ready to work with quasi-governmental organizations. They require compliance with the unified requirements of the Republic of Kazakhstan in the field of information and communication technologies and ensuring information security. When constructing the data center, we took these requirements into account. Small businesses can rent an inexpensive virtual server and other related services. The price depends on the service configuration. This is more profitable than buying your own equipment.
- How do you prepare personnel and succession pool for the new data center?
- The main personnel are technical specialists. They are always in short supply on the market, so we have been practicing a mentoring system for many years and preparing our own succession pool from among final year students. We offer pre-diploma training or in-service education program. We offer people who have enthusiasm and a desire to develop and work to stay on the team in basic positions, such as duty shift operator. When a vacancy appears in specialized areas, we first look at our talent pool and try to ensure internal career growth and team development. The successful candidate must be self-motivated, eager to develop, and be willing to take responsibility for new job functions and achieving the set goals. This is a constant process for us, and from experience we can say that this approach allows us and the market to obtain good specialists who are passionate about their professional activities. Of course, we also attract specialists from the IT market if there is no time to prepare our own ones. The main engineering staff for the Ereymentau data center was formed at the design stage. We will recruit the rest of the team from the IT market, among graduates of Astana universities, and then plan their professional development and training. By the way, online training, sometimes using elements of virtual reality is currently very popular.
- Thank you for the interview!
© 2023 Interfax-Kazakhstan news agency
Copying and use of these materials without reference to the source is prohibited