I was Lou Holtz, a former American player and head coach, who once said: “Show me someone who has done something worthwhile and I will show you someone who can overcome adversity.” Nigeria’s Galaxy Backbone is the network communications and data hosting infrastructure platform for public and private sector organisations. Only a few weeks ago, ICT and telecommunications organisations, experienced an outage on its infrastructure. This incident tested the tenacity of its facilities, its service reliability and its ability to manage customer experience. Most importantly, the outage tested the competence of the team at Galaxy Backbone (GBB).
In all of these, the organisation stood tall, as it resolved the outage and brought back the operations of the affected organisations to full normalcy. I do know that customers, stakeholders and massive array of global service providers who manage the sort of infrastructure Galaxy Backbone manages realise that there are no perfect infrastructure.
What is critical is to have a partner who will be there to guide them through whatever challenge that could come up and resolve it promptly and adequately. This was what GBB has demonstrated and continues to demonstrate in the lives of its customers and other stakeholders. GBB commenced operations in 2007 and has since focused on improving and enhancing its service infrastructure in such a way that it consistently meets world class standards in terms of its operations and management.
Through the intervention of the federal government and a number of global partners, a lot of investments have been made in the area of enhancing and expanding this infrastructure not just at the Federal Capital Territory, where GBB currently has the largest fibre cable rollout, but also laid across the country as well. Nationwide, it continues to lay fibre optic cables and build world class data centres that aim to improve the Internet services of small businesses, government establishments and homes, while expanding broadband penetration and improving the standard of living of the people. One of the core areas of focus for GBB, which the organisation has expanded and strengthened over the years, is in its Network Communications Infrastructure that is capable of meeting the changing needs of its customers in the environment in which they find themselves. It state-of-the-art Network Monitoring and Management Centre helps manage and control the connectivity and unified communications experience of its customers within the public sector.
The main objectives of GBB’s current efforts are to achieve the following: Enhance the strengths of GBB in Service Delivery; and Position GBB as a crucial partner to services providers in both the public and private sectors. With high-speed fibre optic cables being laid in over 20 states of the federation and more to be deployed over the next 24 months in the other parts of the country, speed of connectivity will be significantly improved within a short time. Investments have also been made in eLTE base stations currently in a number of cities across the country.
These will provide reliable alternatives to customers, based on their unique locations. This provides excellent multimedia communications services for voice, SMS, data and video for organisations, estates and homes. Most importantly, it can be modulated to support 5G network. GBB has been operating the only Uptime certified Tier III data centre within the nation’s public sector for over eight years without any record of a downtime since its inception. This Tier III data centre has been built and equipped with best-inclass equipment that enhances the co-location and managed services experience of all customers who currently have their applications or servers with that infrastructure. As a commitment to its focus on highly standardised infrastructure, a Tier IV data centre is being built in Kano, which will be completed before the end of the first quarter of the year.
This will serve customers in that area as well as serve as a backup to the Tier III data centre in the Federal Capital Territory. The mid-to long-term plan is to ensure a state-of-the-art data centre is established in each of the six geopolitical zones of the country to ensure everyone is covered in one way or the other. In addition to these investments in ICT infrastructure, GBB has also established a Security Operations Centre where clients’ applications on the GBB Network are kept secure 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days of the year. This underscores the fact that security is an integral part of the Galaxy Backbone Infrastructure service experience.
A number of intelligence agencies and public services organisations rely on the Galaxy Backbone Infrastructure to ensure the nation and its citizens are kept safe. Revving the GBB engine is Muhammed Bello Abubakar, its managing director/ chief executive officer. The Gombe State-born professor of Petroleum Geosciences, and a former oil and gas exploration research consultant to the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). He is an alumnus of Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi where he obtained B. Tech in applied geology and M.Sc. and Ph.D. in sedimentology/ petroleum geology.
He also holds German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and is a recipient of several awards among which is National University Commission’s best Ph.D. thesis award in physical sciences from all Nigerian universities. Under Professor Abubakar, Galaxy Backbone is doing quite a lot of work to maintain, manage and sustain the technology experience it wants its users to have. But the organisation understands that with its huge responsibility, it would require the support and partnership of other service providers and customers in ensuring that its objectives are met. It is true Galaxy Backbone provides services similar to a number of other ICT organisations. However, not many of those providing similar services have the level and depth of infrastructure available to GBB. It is the hope of its leadership that organisations in the private sector or public sector do not see GBB as competitors but as collaborators in Nigeria’s journey towards becoming one of the leading digital economies in the world. Abubakar has on different occasions invited other originations to partner with Galaxy Backbone towards leveraging its huge infrastructure to help in digitally transforming the nation.
This call is being heeded as between 2020 and to date, not less than 10 partnerships and collaborations with the private sector were achieved. Such collaborations include; with DataSixth, SHELT Global Limited and Palo Alto on cybersecurity, Interra Networks and BCN on connectivity, Zadara on data centre and cloud services, Yahlink on satellite connectivity, New Waves in hosting services; all in addition to the enhanced collaboration with Huawei, MainOne, and others. These collaborations will further enhance public-private sector partnership, drive down the bandwidth price for the benefit of the end user, contribute to the GDP of the nation and improve the standard of living of the citizens.
• Dr. Ibrahim Idris Bello is a public finance analyst based in Abuja