Electric Powerlessness

According to Ernest Ndukwe (Executive Vice-Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission: http://www.vanguardngr.com/articles/2002/features/gsm/gsm102012006.html), the next revolution that the Nigerian ICT sector is anxiously waiting for, is one in the power sector.

"With the present state of electricity supply in the country, the digital revolution in Nigeria cannot attain its full potential. All ICT equipment, infrastructure and terminals depend on electricity to be energised. Unless this vital source of energy is always available and reliable, the Nigerian people will not be able to fully enjoy the benefits that the digital revolution offers".

But, meanwhile, the revolution has to be instigated if it is to occur, and the problem has to be "managed" so that existing networks can function.

Still on Electric Powerlessness

Given the instability of power supply in Nigeria, many now recommend that it is better for users to have notebooks than desktops, as the notebooks use less power and have rechargeble batteries. But unless the problem of power supply for the network servers and backbone is solved, the gains for network users seem to be little.

Now (even to lay persons) it used NOT to make sense to use notebooks or laptops as servers, but I have been wondering if recent technnical improvements have not changed all that?

For instance, the battery pack on my notebook can support the system for up to 6 hours when fully charged and, unlike earlier models, does not seem to over-charge when left on AC supply. The effective period of power backup might be shorter when the network card is active, but I suspect it would still be much longer than the few minutes provided by a typical UPS for a desktop. It has an 80 GB HDD and, in any event, I can now add an external USB HDD of a much larger capacity should I require one. I also understand that I can now add an external USB network card to the notebook. USB network cards might be slower, but that's not terribly important unless you have access to a really fast Internet connection, which we mostly don't have.

Perhaps I'm wrong, but do these advancements not mean that the main technical problems militating against use of notebooks as servers (i.e. not having expansion slots on notebooks and their not being suitable for 24/7) have now been solved?

Plus I can tether my notebook to a desk, if I want to make it more difficult to be taken away. And, compared to desktop PCs, notebooks are physically much smaller, so I can have many of them on one small desk in a much smaller room, etc. The notebook costs more than a desktop of course, but a good UPS that can support a desktop for a few hours might itself cost much more than the notebook.

So here is a stupid, lay question: since power supply is the most important network infrastructure problem in Nigeria, and given the very high cost of providing power backup for network centres, are there really any reasons or issues -aside from habit- why notebooks should not now be the preferred server machines on our networks here? That is, what would be the trade-off?

And if there are significant issues remaining before modern notebooks can be put to use as servers, would identifying and solving them not be good research & development projects in Nigeria and most of Africa?


Notebooks rather than Desktops for electric powerlessness

Although you can use notebooks as servers for small groups of people for limited periods, network servers generally require specialist hardware and options that notebook or desktop hardware design and philosophy currently do not support.

I do not see the problem as powering the servers because power redundancy for servers is an inevitable cost and required even in environments that are not power challenged like ours. When we successfully power the datacentre.switches,routers and wireless access points, we still have the problem of connecting to it consistently with the available desktops courtesy of PHCN's famed efficiency.

This is where we can make giant leaps by purchasing notebooks in preference to desktops. The issues you outlined in your post - power, features and portability make them superior to desktops and more suited to our need to develop capacity quickly. The commonly cited deterrent is the increased cost of acquiring notebooks. I believe this can be approached in innovative ways. The ongoing consolidation of the financial industry is creating new opportunities in retail banking and institutions can leverage this to attract investment into their communities.

The Unijos Laptop Scheme is one of these methods. In this case, the staff have a direct relationship with the lender but it could have easily been the institution leveraging a symbiotic relationship with their bankers in exchange for the laptops.

still on electric powerlessness

yes your idea is good sir, but there are some other network equipment apart from the servers needed such as the routers, switches and satellite modems how do we manange them?for now none is coming with DC source like your notebook but,I think it is possible to adapt external Dc(battery) source to such device


still on electric powerlessness

hi akin, i appreciate your idea of adapting external DC.