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Nigeria is an emerging economy of over 170 million people and a leader in business and information technology, on the African continent. The country needs to develop despite its challenges. The local hosting industry needs to grow and blossom.
It is well documented that electricity generation and distribution is a perennial challenge in Nigeria.
Web Hosting servers on the other hand need power. Lots of it. A good web hosting service would be online 24 hours every day of the year. For this to be possible, power supply has to be reliable. It has to be very reliable.
Web4Africa’s hosting presence in Nigeria is located in a Tier-III award-winning world-class datacentre. The datacentre operates 100% off the national power grid. A chain of technical redundancy in their power supply setup guarantees an uninterrupted supply of power to our servers and network equipment. There are also layers of monitoring systems to reduce the chances of power disruption. All fuel supplies for the power generating plants are tested and only ones that meet their stringent quality standards are accepted. Scheduled and routine maintenance of all power equipment are vigorously followed. Also, the datacentre supplies power to our rack via two independent feeds.
On our part, all our servers have redundant power units and tap from the independent power feeds supplied by the datacentre. Some equipment without dual-power units are powered through an automatic transfer switch. Thus, the chain of power redundancy and reliability is complete.
While all of these come at a premium, the benefits of local hosting far outweighs the initial cost and at the right scale, the cost becomes more accessible to all.
Web4Africa had commissioned some web hosting equipment in a Tier-III datacentre in Lagos Nigeria a few months ago. We own and manage our network infrastructure and are peering locally at the Internet Exchange Point of Nigeria (IXPN). This gives us direct IP connectivity to the networks of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and Carriers that are peering locally in Nigeria.
Local hosting is critical for any country that wants to develop its internet infrastructure. An Internet Exchange is therefore pivotal to local content development and hosting. This is the role the IXPN plays. Two key technical benefits of local hosting are ultra-low latency and high speed connectivity to the local hosting servers.
Our 1Gbps connectivity to the IXPN meant we could test local Internet traffic flows and performance.
This article brings the potential network performance to fore. This is in no way an endorsement nor a critique or any particular ISP but an objective analysis of the potential speed offered by local web hosting. The tests were conducted in the early hours of the morning. Thus, performance during peak business hours could be slightly varied.
The speed tests below were done using Ookla’s ubiquitous Speedtest.net tool from one of our servers in Nigeria. Only Nigerian networks that are part of Speedtest.net and actively peering in Nigeria are highlighted below:
How does this apply to an Internet user in Nigeria?
I’ve always been a proponent of internet performance and one of the major issues with the performance of internet applications is that of latency. Latency is the amount of time it takes for you to send a request and to get a response. Back in the days when all the Internet access we had in the country was via satellite, it was not uncommon to have round trip times of 3000ms and above (i.e. you send a packet to a server and you only got the acknowledgement 3 seconds later). This was okay back then when Internet traffic was mostly bulk data transfers. These days, you deal with applications that require sub-second response times (hello the realtime web) and latency has become an all too important factor in the drive to satisfy Internet users impatience in getting what the want as quickly as they can.
Web developers have had to rely on web hosting companies with servers hosted in other data centers around the world. At best, our applications couldn’t do better in round trip times of at least 100ms. No longer do we have to put up with this and neither should your users do the same. We now have affordable servers in our country! You can put your development environment now on a server in Ikeja or Victoria Island and work directly from the terminal and have a near realtime experience (it’s as though you were working locally on your computer’s terminal).
Oluniyi gave me early access to his server infrastructure and I’ve been using it for a few months now and my experience has been a somewhat bittersweet one. I assumed that I would ping the server and get at most 40ms (given that I was using wireless Internet, that was an acceptable RTT). My experience was mixed.
Like in other countries, there is a local Internet exchange in Lagos providing peering for ISPs with infrastructure in the state and (like every properly configured data center) the data center that Web4Africa’s local servers are colocated is connected to the local exchange; however not all ISPs are connected or have properly configured routing to leverage the exchange and so on the well engineered networks of some ISPs I would get RTTs of 20ms or even 13ms and on the badly configured or no-peering ISPs, I would have even worse RTTs (200ms) because data has to transit through London before coming back to Lagos. So packets will originate from Lagos, transit through routers in London and then terminate in Lagos again.
I currently only host a local bitcoin node on this development server and the network performance and uptime has been stellar. Web4Africa is a very competent hosting service and I cannot recommend them highly enough. High server specs and solid state drives will ensure that your applications perform at their optimum.
Pricing is not as you would expect when comparing it to foreign providers and the reason is a simple one: the cost structures are different – data center operators have to generate their own power which increase the cost for service providers. Nonetheless, they are competitively priced and if you’re a performance nut like me, then you should definitely sign up and start testing your applications with them. Your users will definitely be happier and thank you for it.
Even though I mentioned worse performance while testing the services from some other ISPs, what’s important to note is that, this will only get better. When sufficient content is hosted locally, ISPs will start to optimize their networks to take advantage of peering arrangements provided by the local exchange.
Written by Tim Akinbo. He is the Founder and CEO of TimbaObjects Company.from Lagos Nigeria.
Note: The high latency on a few networks mentioned above is due to their inactive local peering. Web4Africa is already engaging the management of IXPN for improvement in the user experience.
Web4Africa, a leading pan-African web hosting company and accredited domain registrar has extended its web hosting infrastructure to Nigeria, making it the first web hosting company to do so.
From an award-winning Tier-III data centre in Lagos Nigeria, Web4Africa is poised to offer its regular services from its West African network Point-of-Presence. These services include: shared Web Hosting, Reseller Hosting, Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting and Cloud Hosting.
To offer the very best experience to residents of Nigeria, Web4Africa is peering openly at the Internet Exchange Point of Nigeria (IXPN), with a 100Mbps connectivity to all the leading operators openly available at the exchange point in Lagos.
From the Nigeria data centre, Web4Africa has access to clean, 100% stable and redundant power supply, as well as top-notch physical security.
In the words of Oluniyi Ajao, M/D of Web4Africa:
We are in Africa and Africa is in us. We are committed to bringing world-class web hosting to Africa and Africans, meeting the needs of businesses and other entities. Our extension to Lagos Nigeria is one of the first steps towards this goal.
The installed infrastructure has been carefully engineered for excellence with speed and redundancy built into every layer of the hardware.
Residents of Nigeria would have access to low-latency and high-speed data hosting services with varying service options targeted at developers, SMEs, NGOs, corporates and government departments.
Web4Africa has the experience and credibility to drive the need for local web content development in Nigeria. Web4Africa currently serves existing clients from its own server hardware in a Tier-III data centre in South Africa, powered by its own multi-homed resilient IP network. Web4Africa currently peers openly at 1Gbps on Africa’s first internet exchange – the Johannesburg Internet Exchange (JINX) and enjoys direct connectivity to some major South African and pan-African IP carriers.
Established in 2002, Web4Africa is a leading pan-African web hosting company and ICANN Accredited Domain Registrar offering web presence services to clients worldwide.
Web4Africa, an ICANN Accredited Domain Registrar and web hosting company, now accepts Bitcoin as payment for its services.
Web4Africa offers web presence services including Domain Name Registration, Web Hosting, Cloud Hosting etc to clients worldwide.
Bitcoin is a decentralized (peer-to-peer) digital currency system that is gaining popularity worldwide.
Web4Africa is 10 years in existence this September 2012. As part of our celebrations, we are offering up to 16.6% discount to all customers on all our domain name and web hosting services. To enjoy the limited-time discount, you need to make use of the Promo Code at the end of this post.
You can register or renew any of the following domain names for only $10/year.
The Promo Code shaves 16.6% off the normal pricing for new orders on all our web hosting plans.
You can also transfer any of the following types of domains to Web4Africa, for only $9. No promo code required for the transfer offer.
The promotional offer
WordPress being the world’s leading blogging software is loved by most bloggers. Constant innovation is one of the reasons for the affection. One of such relatively recent innovations is the Jetpack mega-plugin. I called it a mega-plugin because it is a plugin like no other; it comes with several functionalities that would have otherwise only have been available by installing multiple plugins.
WordPress comes in two variants. The self-hosted WordPress.org that one installs manually or via one’s hosting control panel, and WordPress.com the ready-to-go blogging platform that requires no installations. WordPress.com is hosted by Automattic, the company behind WordPress, and so are all blogs hosted under WordPress.com
What Jetpack does is to bring some additional functionalities that were hitherto exclusive to WordPress.com platform, to WordPress.org users. The image below is self-evident.
Jetpack can be installed easily from within your WordPress installation, just like most other plugins but the additional power it brings to your blog is unrivalled. Jetpack adds the following features to your WordPress blog:
Installing Jetpack is simple. You can install it from within WordPress without having to download/upload anything as is obvious from the image below:
Offering Web4Africa’s web hosting customers easy access and management to their web hosting services whilst not compromising on security remains an unending balancing act. In a world where motivation is all that us needed to be a hacker due to the reckless abundance of free hacking tools, maintaining a high level of security in the web hosting industry is not negotiable.
However, enforcing the most effective web hosting security policies usually mean surrendering some convenience.
A classic example is the humble password. The stronger a password is, the harder it is for hackers to guess. A strong password is a complex password. However, not many people can store complex passwords in their mind. More so, we are in a world where there several passwords that hold our access to dozens of email accounts, social networks, smartphones, bank accounts etc. Adding a complex and randomly-generated web hosting password to the mix seems too much for many.
Another example is brute force protection usually installed on web hosting servers. It is simply a system that blocks a particular IP address when it is the source of attempts to login to a specific hosting or email account with a wrong passwords for too many times within a specific period of time, depending on how it was configured. It is designed to fight back at hackers attempting to gain access by guessing passwords. However, it can also block the legitimate user if the user doesn’t remember the correct password. Blocking the user’s IP address means the user would be unable to access his website and email temporarily. Since most telecom operators offering mobile broadband usually share a public IP address among several users at the same time, it means all the users on that IP would be unable the access the websites hosted on that service until the web hosting company removes the IP blacklist. Between the blockage and removal, one can expect the affected users to scream “blue murder!” since the web hosting server would appear offline, to them.
Sometimes, disabling a feature considered vulnerable on a web hosting server would mean causing problems for some dozens of users who installed a software that relies heavily on the disabled function to work properly. That is another angle to the matter.
Being hacked is never a pleasant experience. It can cause embarrassment, loss of man-hours, loss of revenue etc. A website manager would thus necessarily need to sacrifice some convenience for the sake of maintaining the integrity of his/her web hosting account.
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