Marseille's strategic importance for Middle East data traffic enhanced by second France-IX PoP
France-IX, the international internet exchange point provider, has added to its existing ten PoPs (points of peering) by opening a second at Jaguar Network’s MRS01 data centre in Marseille. The company says its new PoP meets the high resiliency requirements of its existing members and increases capacity for new users looking to benefit from peering in Marseille. Among these will be many African and Middle Eastern online media, CDN (content delivery network), e-commerce providers, and an increasing number of larger corporations looking to manage their data with lower costs and greater security.
Marseille’s geographic position has made it a data hub for Europe and the Mediterranean region, resulting in its being the landing point for no fewer than six active and one planned subsea cable systems, directly linking it to the Middle East and many locations across Africa.
France-IX never intended Paris to be its only focus, its CEO Franck Simon explains: “We always believed in the success of Marseille and we have been working on building an international peering community in this city since 2012. The results of our efforts are now being realised and Marseille is even attracting interest from other internet exchange points. We will continue to do all we can to avoid the community becoming split - the power is in the community.”
With the opening of its second Marseille site, France-IX will be able to offer an alternative as well as a complement to its members that are already connected through its first PoP. Two differentiated end-to-end paths of dark fibres will be deployed to interconnect the two sites, allowing a permanent interconnection between the two PoPs and delivering real benefits to the disaster recovery plans of the networks already present in Marseille.
Kévin Polizzi, President of Jaguar Network, a well-known operator in the data centre and cloud computing market, explains that the site is very well suited for risk-management: “We designed and built the site with the needs of wholesale operators, cloud providers and enterprises in mind, in order to provide a complete and certified range of services.”
And Marseille is increasingly attractive to African and Middle Eastern service providers. France-IX has already interconnected more than 20 networks at its first PoP in Marseille. This community consists primarily of French and international content delivery networks along with French, Middle-Eastern and African operators, which collect the content.
“We will replicate the equipment deployment that we have in our first PoP at the Interxion MRS1 data centre. These switches and routers can connect in excess of 60 optical ports. We estimate that at least a dozen additional members are likely to become connected before the end of 2015,” concludes Franck Simon.
Jaguar also foresees this upward trajectory. “We’re seeing a rise in demand from the EMEA region (Europe, Middle-East, Africa), which confirms the international status of Marseille. By joining forces, we are confident that the number of peers will double in 2016,” said Kévin Polizzi.
Nybl: Saudi Startup to Expand AI Solutions
According to co-founder Nour Alnahhas, nybl was formed for the greater good. A visual data mining and machine learning platform, the platform will help organisations streamline their operations. ‘We wanted to centralise our vision around AI and machine learning’, said Alnahhas. ‘Something not just for profit, but added value. Conscious capitalism’.
Nybl aims to democratise artificial intelligence by making it possible for anyone to build an AI solution. What website builders like Wix and Squarespace did for site design, nybl will do for AI—allowing even non-coders to feel comfortable creating solutions. In fact, Alnahhas calls it a ‘Shopify of AI’, or a third-party platform that helps businesses deliver better service.
With hubs in Kuwait, the UAE, North America, and India, nybl is focused on launching operations in Saudi Arabia, Alnahhas’s home country. When the company first launched, it was difficult to convince Saudi Arabian businesses to work with a startup. Yet now, nybl has proven itself. ‘We had support in the UAE, so now we’re coming back’, said Alnahhas.
Alnahhas has launched a pilot with Saudi Aramco and has slowly built partnerships with paper, heating, HVAC air conditioning, and manufacturing companies. In addition, the Saudi government has started to invest in the Kingdom’s National Strategy for Data and AI, which means that nbyl, as a tech startup, has finally gained credibility.
No War for Talent
One of the most critical parts of nybl’s expansion will be hiring the right individuals. Thankfully, there’s a current surplus of talented researchers, developers, and data scientists within the Kingdom. Like nybl’s Alnahhas—educated at the University of Houston, the Wharton School of Business, and INSEAD— many Saudi Arabians have benefited from government-sponsored education abroad.
Last year, Saudi Arabia signed several partnerships with tech firms to advance the Kingdom’s skills in artificial intelligence. ‘It’s exciting to be in Saudi Arabia where there’s alignment and support’, Alnahhas concluded. ‘You’re getting an increasing talent pool. And even old and big family conglomerates are finally changing to use AI’.