LG to collaborate with Qualcomm for 5G cars

South Korea’s LG Electronics (LG) has partnered with US wireless technology company Qualcomm to develop 5G automotive platforms.

Both LG and Qualcomm will jointly establish a research center in Seoul, South Korea to develop 5G for vehicles and Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything (C-V2X) technology, the company said.

“LG plans to lead the next-generation vehicle components market by combining our experience in automotive communication technologies with Qualcomm’s advanced connected solutions from LTE to 5G,” said Kim Jin-yong, Executive Vice President of LG’s Vehicle Components Smart Business Unit.

Kim says that the company is confident that the combined research strength of both companies will yield significant benefits that would not be achieved through independent work.

The 5G platform is expected to be able to connect vehicles to nearby base stations and perform a variety of next-generation functions, including smart navigation, real-time broadcasting, and making emergency calls through in-vehicle communication.

Nakul Duggal, Vice President of Product Management at Qualcomm, said that the partnership with LG demonstrates both parties’ commitment to the development of advanced solutions for safe, connected, and increasingly autonomous vehicles.

“With the automotive industry on a clear path to 5G, we look forward to working together with LG to meet the demands of today’s drivers and advance the commercialization of C-V2X technology in next-gen vehicles,” he added.

Why India’s DC policy needs a green signal soon

In November, the Indian government came out with a draft of a national Data Centre (DC) policy. The intent was to take a fresh look at the existing policy, while at the same time attracting additional capital to meet the burgeoning demands of India’s digital needs.

At the outset, the draft touched upon focuses on simplifying existing rules, promote indigenous manufacturing and grant data centers “infrastructure” status, which could see big ticket investments. Infrastructure status has been accorded to roadways, railways and electricity grids. Data Centres would also be designated as an essential service under the law, much like telecom networks.

Even as the policy takes shape, action has begun on the ground. Earlier this week, the state of Uttar Pradesh (UP), which is the size of all Europe put together, approved a data centre policy. in UP, Singapore-based, ST Telemedia Global Data Centers (STT GDC), has proposed to build a greenfield data center at a cost of around $80 million.

The data ceter will have a critical IT capacity of 18 Megawatts (MW) in its first phase. It is to noted that only Telengana, a state in Southern India has a data center policy to speak of.

COVID-19 accelerates digital adoption

Since the onset of COVID-19, data consumption globally has surged and in India too it has gone up, on the back of Work From Home, tele-medicine, online education and digital commerce. This, coupled with the upcoming Personal Data Protection Law has made the IT Ministry to come up with a framework for data centres. At the outset, the government seems to have ticked many check boxes from simplification of rules to creating zones, which currently is concentrated largely in Navi Mumbai, Chennai, Noida and Hyderabad. As data use grows exponentially, DCs are critical to the functioning of the internet.

The Indian data centre industry has clocked $1.2 billion in revenues in 2020 fiscal and CRISIL expects the industry to log a rapid 25-30 per cent CAGR to $4.5-5 billion by fiscal 2025.

The issue needs to be seen in the context of a huge Asian push happening around data center investments. AT Tokyo, a data center player in Japan, announced the launch of a new data center in Tokyo which will commence operations in 2023. The facility will be approximately 32,000 square meters with five server room floors. Taking a step forward in the area, China unveiled its first underwater data center project in the Guangdong Province of Zhuhai.

According to Chinese state media China News Service (CNS), the underwater data center project is led by maritime technology company Beijing Highlander. The data center, containing racks of servers, will be sealed in an airtight vessel and will be submerged near a port in Zhuhai. In Hong Kong, ESR, a leading logistics real estate platform listed in Hong Kong is planning a foray into the data center business on the back of a successful Real Estate Investment Trusts listing.

Thailand-based logistics, industrial estates, and utilities company WHA Infonite and IT services company MFEC Public Company Limited (MFEC) have signed a data center agreement that would benefit the data center ecosystem in the country.

All these developments suggest that the interest around data centers is at an all-time high. Even as the interest is high, existing trends in India show that since the pandemic, there is an increased appetite for adopting technology. This has altered business models of many traditional companies the world over, and India is no exception. From e-commerce, digital health to a large chunk of 4 million IT employees adopting remote working, IT infrastructure requirements in the back-end have gone through the roof, according to Narendra Sen, founder, RackBank Datacenters. India has an internet user base in excess of 550 million and in March sett to commence 5G auctions.

Will this demand fizzle out?

However, all this demand will go waste if policies are not tuned to match this growth, as companies will consider alternative locations. If Bangaldesh, Sri Lanka offer similar incentives, companies may consider them.

It is here that the Indian government is looking at ease of doing business in the form of fast clearances, cheap and clean power: The policy emphasises single window clearance, in a time bound manner by state governments, standardisation in terms of security, and the creation of a category for data centres in the National Building Code, 2016. No business should have to go to 3 dozen government departments to get various clearances, which is time-consuming. Simplification of rules for DCs is necessary for its buildout,” said Sen. The policy draft advocates setting up of atleast four DC Economic Zones (DCEZ) in the country.

Data Centre Incentivization Scheme (DCIS)

The draft talks about a scheme to provide “fiscal and non-fiscal” incentives to data centres, indicating tax breaks for the sector.

Land parcels

States and union territories will be “encouraged” to provide land parcels for Data Centre Parks, along with the municipal supplies that this would entail, like water, electricity and so on.

Fast clearances, cheap power

The policy says it is important to “institutionalize processes for granting single window clearance, in a time bound manner by State Governments/Union Territoriess” and to that effect has mooted standardisation in terms of security, build, “IT [and] non-IT”, and the creation of a category for data centres in the National Building Code, 2016. Additionally, it has also stated that data centres be provided access to uninterrupted, clean and cost-effective electricity. A steering group will be created to execute this priority, consisting of Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeITY), the Ministry of Power, and state governments.

Robust and cost-effective backhaul

MEITY said it would work with the Department of Telecommunications to make sure that data centres have access to fibre bandwidth, through utility corridors, common service ducts, infrastructure sharing, a Dial Before You Dig Policy, and improved international connectivity and cost of bandwidth.

The draft definitely seems to be a step in the right direction and industry seems to be bullish. However, creation of four zones has thrown up concern on whether competitors will be present in the same zone.

Also, India’s federal structure mandates working of state with the central government. How centre and state governments align on this, especially considering the recent fracas over the new farm laws.

India’s past efforts in creating Special Economic Zones to promote software exports have built a $191 billion industry. The country is eagerly looking at a repeat of this. Sooner, the better.

SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son to step down as chairman

Masayoshi Son, billionaire founder of Japanese technology empire SoftBank, is stepping down from his role as chairman of the company.

The announcement came after a two-year deliberation where SoftBank said in a press statement that such a decision was necessary to “pass on the strengths of its current management system to future generations” and “achieve sustainable growth as a listed company”.

Current CEO Ken Miyauchi will replace Son as chairman, while Junichi Miyakawa will take over as President and CEO. Miyauchi has been with SoftBank since 1984, and is one of Son’s longest-serving lieutenants, having significantly contributed to the growth of some of Japan’s most widely-used telco and social media platforms including Y! Mobile and LINE Mobile.

Miyakawa, on the other hand, is currently CTO of SoftBank. He was previously Technical COO at Sprint Corporation (now known as T-Mobile U.S.).

One of the wealthiest men in Japan, Son is credited as the principal founder of SoftBank in 1981, which is now one of the country’s leading telcos. He is ranked by Forbes as one of the most powerful people in the world.

Son is also the main driver behind SoftBank’s iconic Vision Fund, a tech-focused venture capital that has invested in over 80 companies across Asia including Southeast Asian ride-share powerhouse Grab and workplace communication platform Slack.

Son will continue to serve as Board Director for SoftBank, effective April 1, 2021.

Airtel launches 5G ready network

India’s telecommunication service provider Bharti Airtel has successfully rolled out ‘Live’ 5G service over a commercial network.

This rollout was in Hyderabad city, in Andhra Pradesh. Airtel did this over its existing liberalised spectrum in the 1800 MHz band through the NSA (Non Stand Alone) network technology.

Airtel’s 5G is capable of delivering 10x speeds, 10x latency and 100x concurrency when compared to existing technologies. Specifically, in Hyderabad, users were able to download a full length movie in a matter of seconds on a 5G phone. This demonstration has underlined the company’s technology capabilities. The full impact of the 5G experience, however, will be available to customers, when adequate spectrum is available and government approvals are received.

Gopal Vittal, MD & CEO, Bharti Airtel said: “I am very proud of our engineers who have worked tirelessly to showcase this incredible capability in Tech City, Hyderabad today. Every one of our investments is future proofed as this game changing test in Hyderabad proves.”
Using a first of its kind, dynamic spectrum sharing, Airtel operated 5G and 4G concurrently within the same spectrum block.

This demonstration has emphatically validated the 5G readiness of Airtel’s network across all domains – Radio, Core and Transport, the company said.

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has said that the auctions for 5G spectrum will commence from March 1. The spectrums being offered during the auctions include the 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300 MHz and 2500 MHz bands.

All major telecom service providers like Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, Vi and more are expected to place their bids. All of the three major telecom service providers have been testing their 5G infrastructure for some time now and will continue to do so until a wider launch takes place later this year.

Reliance Industries Chairman and Managing Director Mukesh Ambani, announced during India Mobile Congress 2020, that Jio will roll out its 5G services in India in the second half of 2021.

Hyperscale data centers doubled from 2015-2020: Synergy

The total number of large data centers operated by hyperscale providers increased to 541 at the end of the second quarter of 2020, more than double the mid-2015 count, according to analysis by Synergy Research Group, a leading market research firm for the networking and telecoms industry.

Hyperscale, in the data center industry parlance, refers to fitting more IT equipment in less space. Over the past couple of decades, servers have become more powerful and data center designers have a better ability to maximize the amount of servers that are in a data center.

While the US still accounts for almost 40 per cent of the major cloud and internet data center sites from 2015 to 2020, the EMEA and Asia-Pac regions witnessed the highest growth rates, with China, Japan, Australia, India and Singapore among the ten most popular locations globally.

From the second quarter of 2019 to the second quarter of 2020, new data centers were opened in 15 different countries, with the US, South Korea, Switzerland, Italy, South Africa and Bahrain having the largest number of additions.

Among the hyperscale operators, Amazon and Google opened the most new data centers in the last twelve months, accounting for over half of the total, with Microsoft and Oracle being the next most active companies.

Synergy research shows that over 70 per cent of all hyperscale data centers are located in facilities that are leased from data center operators or are owned by partners of the hyperscale operators.

John Dinsdale, a Chief Analyst at Synergy Research Group, said: “COVID-19 has caused some logistical issues but these are robust numbers, demonstrating the underlying strength of the services that are driving these investments. We have visibility of a further 176 data centers that are at various stages of planning or building, which is good news for data center hardware vendors and wholesale data center operators.”

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Cloud4C to build CoE for SAP and Anthos

Managed cloud services provider Cloud4C, has collaborated with Google Cloud to build a Centre of Excellence (CoE) for SAP and Anthos.

The partnership aims to enable enterprises to accelerate their digital transformation journey on the cloud, Cloud4C said in a statement.

The center of excellence (CoE) will equip businesses with capabilities to modernise mission critical IT infrastructure and applications, while gaining the complete benefit of Cloud4C’s extended SAP service portfolio. By leveraging Anthos, enterprises can modernize their existing applications and build cloud-native apps to achieve agility and cost savings with Google Cloud.

Sridhar Pinnapureddy, Founder and CEO, Cloud4C, said, “Our customers can leverage the best of Google’s offerings in a secure manner with reduced capital investment and improved value delivery. The CoE will serve as a multi-disciplinary customer showcase hub, developing and delivering solutions for high efficiency and reliability.” Rapid deployment of SAP applications through Anthos by Google will additionally contribute to lowering carbon footprint, added Pinnapureddy.

The CoE will also support customers in their modernization journey, as they level up their mission-critical IT infrastructure and applications and leverage advanced Google Cloud Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and analytics capabilities at scale. The partnership will help organizations make the most of Cloud 4C’s end to end SAP capabilities through multi-cloud support, multi-cluster/unified management, centralized policy management, infrastructure management and achieve higher return on investment, enhanced platform, operational efficiency, rapid scalability and optimise costs.

“Together with Cloud4C, we will offer organizations a clear path to build, run, and manage their critical SAP workloads on hybrid and multi cloud environments with full flexibility, agility and security. This will be a huge benefit for businesses in India.” said Amitabh Jacob, Head of Partners and Alliances, Google Cloud India

Cloud4C is the largest and the oldest SAP Partner offering SAP Managed Services across 25 countries and 50 locations and has dedicated SAP services including Switch2Cloud, S/4 HANA implementation and application management services, exclusively focusing on greenfield, brownfield and hybrid packages as well as end to end application management services (AMS) offerings.

Earlier this month, Cloud4C partnered with Citrix to offer Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops service for enterprises to leverage unmatched security and mobile workforce capabilities.

Crypto platform Unocoin launches new exchange

Unocoin, the oldest cryptocurrency platform in India, has launched its new crypto exchange platform built for professional traders, fund managers and retail investors.

The launch, which follows Unocoin’s beta Unodax platform, marks the expansion of the company’s existing brokerage model into a full-scale exchange model. The platform comes with billing and invoicing functions to help fund managers and professional traders adhere to tax compliance and financial reporting, Unocoin said.

Unocoin, the single pool of liquidity shared by all Unocoin products, will continue to be made available for Unocoin Exchange users. Trading fees, APIs, and security features will be the same for both platforms. To facilitate the migration, the current platform, Unodax will remain accessible to users for a period of time, with transactions, balances and activity mirrored on both platforms. After 31st March 2021, all users will be seamlessly rolled over to Unocoin Exchange, with Unodax being phased out.

“We are launching the Unocoin exchange as a straightforward and user-friendly platform for experienced traders and institutional investors in India to participate in a globally expanding cryptocurrency ecosystem. In addition to a customised and secure trading platform, we will continue with Unocoin news, the Unocoin blog, and educational campaigns to help users excel in the crypto space,” said Sathvik Vishwanath, Co-founder and CEO, Unocoin.

The Unocoin Exchange comes with an improved user experience from Unodax, customised trading solutions that now serves a wider clientele. New features include a completely redesigned platform for a more intuitive experience; simplified deposit and withdrawal processes; improved charts to access more historical data; a new consolidated portfolio view called “My Wallets”; new Lending and Earn Interest functions; a wider wallet page consisting 30 different coins, the company said.

Apart from traditional limit orders and market orders, the platform is the first in India to support sophisticated order book placements, including split orders, enabling customers to place multiple orders at different prices with a single click; and ladder orders, helping customers take advantage of volatility with automatic order execution upon trigger of pre-determined price levels.

Sunny Ray, Co-founder and President, Unocoin said that by facilitating multiple functions like investments, utilisation, buying, selling, lending, and earning interest with cryptocurrency, Unocoin is offering users a unique opportunity to become shareholders in the cryptocurrency ecosystem. “As the decentralized ecosystem advances, we expect there will be many more opportunities for customers to interact with digital assets in new and unique ways,” he added.

After initial concerns as well as risks associated with this, regulatory bodies all over the world are looking at crypto currencies. In India, banking regulatory Reserve Bank of India recently issued a booklet on Payment and Settlement Systems in which it has mentioned that Private digital currencies (PDCs) / virtual currencies (VCs) / cryptocurrencies (CCs) have gained popularity in recent years.

RBI is exploring the possibility as to whether there is a need for a digital version of fiat currency and in case there is, then how to operationalise it.

Indian govt to pass India’s Privacy Protection Bill soon

India’s Privacy Data Protection Bill, which is going through multiple stakeholder considerations, will be passed soon.

Things are still under deliberation, as the government is steadfast in its belief that data should be easy and affordable to access,” said Neeta Verma, Director General (DG), National Informatics Center (NIC), Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeITY) who was addressing W.Media’s South Asia Cloud and Data Center Summit.

Legislation on data protection has gathered pace in India since the Supreme Court ruled privacy as a fundamental right in 2018. Subsequently, Justice B N Srikrishna, was tasked to come up with a draft of the Data Protection Bill.

The draft now is with the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC), who will eventually pass it into a law. While Dr Verma did not specify a timeline on when it will come into effect, she said that the government is deliberating all aspects, across all stakeholders, into this Bill.

With the onset of COVID-19, coupled with other likely accelerators such as 5G launch later this year, data consumption is growing at a humongous pace in countries like India. India with its 564 million internet user base is one of the most lucrative markets for internet-enabled services. For the same India needs to have the mix of physical infrastructure as well as laws that safeguard data protection for individuals and corporations, stated Dr. Verma.

Along with a policy on data (which has been referred to JPC for approval), the Indian government has also floated the framework for a data center policy, which after feedback, will be made into a law. “Data center should be accorded infrastructure status- like railways or roads and data center parks should be allowed to come up,” said Dr. Verma.

According infrastructure status, helps in attracting long-term capital from large pension funds as well as Private Equity companies, which is needed for building out a data center infrastructure in India. The government’s draft of a national Data Centre (DC) policy, focuses on simplifying existing rules, indigenous manufacturing and giving it “infrastructure” status could see big ticket investments.

Data center parks will help companies to co-locate their IT infrastructure in places which have reliable power, connectivity, amongst other factors.

Incentivisation schemes are also in the offing, stated Dr. Verma. India has a large talent pool, broadband connectivity, as well as geographically is one of the best places for becoming a global hub of data centers. “We have seen fast adoption fo cloud within government with 12,000 apps under the umbrella,”she said.

Some examples of government cloud services in India includes MyGov, e-hospitals, e-way bills, the government’s e-procurement system, Swachh Bharat mission, amongst others.

Dr. Verma is of that nowadays, data centers need to be viewed through a different lens. ‘We need to look at efficiencies in data centers in an environmentally sustainable manner-from managing power for cooling requirements to energy consumption. Data canter with managed services offers a great opportunity for India.

Amazon, Google among 40 organisations sign European Climate Neutral Data Center Pact

Some of the largest data center players in Europe have come together to create a Climate Neutral Data Center Pact that will make data centers in the region climate neutral by 2030.

In this Self Regulatory Initiative to achieve five data compute and storage objectives, as part of the climate neutrality pledge, 25 cloud and data center operators and 17 associations have come together.

They have agreed to address issues such as power efficiency, water efficiency, 100 per cent carbon-free energy, reusing and repairing servers, and recycling heat produced by data centers. The development assumes significance as many of the European companies have large technology footprint in the APAC region.

This Pact comes a year after the EU’s introduction of the 2019 Green Deal which urged for the industry to go climate neutral as part of its aim to make Europe the world’s first climate neutral continent by 2050. Companies joining the Pact represent the most significant industry players in cloud infrastructure and data centres in Europe.

Big names that have signed the Pact include Amazon, Google, Equinix, and NTT.

Frans Timmermans, European Commission Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal, said: “Citizens across Europe use ever more technology to go about their daily lives and want this technology also to help secure a sustainable future for people and planet. Today’s pledge from important parts of the data industry constitutes a promise to society and offers a welcome first step towards achieving our common ambitions for a smart and sustainable future.”

Trade associations that have signed the Pact include the European Data Center Association (EUDCA), global cloud computing organisation Cloud 28+, and data center organisations from Poland, Denmark, and France.

“Data centers are the supporting pillars of the fourth industrial revolution and, as seen during the COVID-19 pandemic, are essential infrastructure of not only the digital economy but of the entire global economy,” said Apostolos Kakkos, Chairman of the EUDCA.

“It is our duty to commit to a self-regulatory initiative that will help to ensure the operational availability, sustainability and the future of our industry,” he continued.

Alban Schmutz, Chairman of CISPE (Cloud Infrastructure Services Providers in Europe) was of the view that with cloud infrastructure the backbone of the European Union’s digital economy, the industry is committed to the idea that we must all play a central role in addressing climate change.

This commitment underpins a roadmap for Europe’s cloud infrastructure industry to offer climate neutral services to customers by 2030, he said.

Malaysia’s Celcom partners with Microsoft for cloud solution offering

Celcom Axiata Berhad (Celcom), one of Malaysia’s largest telecommunications service providers, has partnered with Microsoft to introduce a brand new cloud service offering for enterprises in Malaysia.

The Celcom Cloud suite focuses on Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) offerings, and combines features for applications, infrastructure, data storage, software network, security, and a seamless deployment experience for businesses to scale their operations efficiently.

Idham Nawawi, CEO of Celcom, said that the collaboration with Microsoft will further elevate the company’s status as a trusted digital solutions provider for businesses of all sizes in Malaysia.

“From smaller brick and mortar businesses to larger enterprises, Celcom will always strive towards providing a ‘win-win-win’ situation, creating a sustainable digital ecosystem and benefit the rakyat (people) and country,” he added.

Celcom’s new Cloud Suite offering also comes at a time where digital transformation to a cloud-based infrastructure is crucial to running and maintaining a successful business, especially in a post-pandemic world.

A study by Microsoft and market research firm IDC revealed that 77% of business decision makers in Malaysia say that innovation is now a ‘must’ for them to respond quickly to new challenges and opportunities in the market.

“Having the right digital partners to facilitate digital transformation is crucial, and together with Celcom we look forward to accelerating the digital transformation of Malaysian organisations, leveraging the synergetic relationship between the tech and telco industries,” said K. Raman, Managing Director of Microsoft Malaysia.

This new solution will be offered alongside Celcom’s other flagship digital kit, Celcom Business Suite.

Panopto opens new office in Singapore

Cloud-based video platform Panopto has opened its new office in Singapore as part of its strategy to respond to the growth in demand in Asia.

Located in mixed-use development building Marina One, Panopto’s new base in Singapore will allow the company to continue serving higher education institutions and businesses in over 14 countries in Asia.

“It’s appropriate to ring in the new year in Asia with a new office in Singapore,” said Elle Hosek, General Manager of Panopto Asia.

“Panopto has been servicing customers in Asia on its Singapore-based cloud since 2018, and we’re excited to expand our presence,” she added.

The new office also builds upon Panopto’s data center in Singapore and further complements the company’s existing office in Hong Kong. With Panopto’s presence in Singapore, top local universities including the National University of Singapore (NUS) and the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) will be able to benefit from a series of cloud-based upgrades, such as seamless online learning.

Cyber Security breach at Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC)

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) reported a cyber security breach related to its use of a file sharing software.

The Australian regulator in a notification said: “This incident is related to Accellion software used by ASIC to transfer files and attachments. It involved unauthorised access to a server which contained documents associated with recent Australian credit licence applications.”

While the investigation is ongoing, it appears that there is “some risk” that some limited information may have been viewed by the threat actor. At this time ASIC has not seen evidence that any Australian credit licence application forms or any attachments were opened or downloaded, it added. ASIC’s IT team and cyber security advisers engaged by ASIC are undertaking a detailed forensic investigation.

Interestingly the Accellion file sharing software was recently at the centre of a similar incident at the Reserve Bank of New Zealand. As a precaution, and to protect information and systems, ASIC has disabled access to the affected server. The regulator is working on alternative arrangements for submitting credit application attachments which will be implemented shortly. No other ASIC technology infrastructure has been impacted or breached, it pointed out.

Meanwhile, relevant agencies and those impacted have been notified, it said.

Recently, the SUNBURST malware attacks against SolarWinds have heightened companies’ concerns about the risk to their digital environments. Malware installed during software updates in March 2020 had allowed advanced attackers to gain unauthorized access to files that may include customer data and intellectual property.

Matt Gyde, President and CEO, Security Division at NTT Limited had recently said that threat actors have exploited disruption during the COVID-19 crisis to launch an accelerated wave of cyberattacks around the world. The SolarWinds incidents were orchestrated by sophisticated operators and exploit the broad distribution of commonly-used software packages, he said.

Vietnam telcos to pilot 5G in An Giang

Vietnam’s Mekong Delta province of An Giang has been selected as the location for the government’s piloting of 5G services this year.

Located in the southwest of Vietnam, An Giang borders Cambodia and is a significant agricultural center.

State-owned telcos, VNPT and Viettel, will be tasked with launching the service. After conducting commercial 5G trials in major cities Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam’s Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) has chosen An Giang to boost tourism management and digital infrastructure investment in the province.

The An Giang Provincial People’s Committee said that as of now, all localities in An Giang are covered by 3G, 4G, and mobile broadband.

Viettel and VNPT are two of the largest telecommunications service providers in Vietnam. The former is owned by Vietnam’s Ministry of Defence, whereas the latter is owned by the country’s national post office.

In December last year, Viettel launched a 5G commercial trial in Hanoi and VNPT also had the go-ahead to trial 5G in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh.

MC Payment to list in Singapore Exchange

Mobile Credit Payment will become the first fintech company to be listed on the Singapore Exchange.

This will be done through a reverse takeover of special purpose acquisition company Artivision Technologies, it said. Artivision Technologies Limited shareholders on January 22 approved the proposed takeover at an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) and expects completion of the acquisition on 18 February 2021.

Established in 2005 and regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) under the Payment Services Act 2019, MC Payment holds a major payment institution licence and is a Singapore-based, online-to-offline financial services technology company with a focus on servicing merchants in the retail, transportation and food and beverage industries.

MC Payment’s listing comes at a time when digital payments are witnessing a blowout in South Asia, as consumers increasingly have started using this channel to transact, in the aftermath of COVID-19 pandemic. Digital payments in ASEAN region is expected to triple to $1.5 trillion by 2030.

Currently, MC Payment has a presence in four countries – Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand – with ambitions to become a regional player. MC Payment CEO, Anthony Koh is of the view that future growth avenues for the Group include penetrating new geographical markets through mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures and/or franchises, as well as rolling out new value-added services for merchants.

“We’re expecting a robust growth trajectory for the Southeast Asian payments industry, following a surge in digitisation, spurred by increased access to 5G mobile technology, blockchain and AI, coupled with the rapid rise of e-commerce,” he had said.

Subsequently, Artivision will be renamed MC Payment Limited, and is set to become the first listed digital payments services firm on the SGX-ST.

India’s largest state announces Data Center policy

The Uttar Pradesh cabinet has given its nod for a data centre policy, as the state looks to attract more investments and comply with the data localisation push advocated by the Indian government.

The policy is expected to bring in Rs 20,000 crore in investments, according to a government notification. Industry watchers opine that this is the state government’s efforts to further attract capital into the State, which has been envisaged by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

The policy aims at developing 250 MW of data centre industries in the state and setting up at least three private data centre parks. As per the red carpet effort to woo investors, they will be given provisions dealing with capital, interest rate, subsidies on land procurement, as well as non financial incentives.

Special incentives will also be provided for proposals coming to the backward regions of Bundelkhand and Purvanchal, the government said.

The state government, also said that setting up data centre parks will also lead to various information technology and related units coming up in the vicinity, leading to an expected overall direct employment of 4,000 people and indirect employment of 20,000 people. It also said that it will give global data centre players like Google, Amazon, Microsoft and IBM an opportunity to come and set shop in the state.

NTT India recently got allotted six acres of land for building 70 MW of data centre capacity, in Noida. Similarly, STT Global Data Centres India also plans to develop 18 MW data centre with an investment of Rs 600 crore in Noida. Last year, Hiranandani group’s Yotta Infrastructure said that it will be investing Rs 7,000 crore in the Greater Noida region, by setting up co-location data centers.

The Uttar Pradesh government’s initiative also needs to be seen in the backdrop of the Indian government’s draft of a national Data Centre (DC) policy, which was drafted last year. The policy focuses on simplifying existing rules, indigenous manufacturing and giving it “infrastructure” status, all of which is expected to bring in big ticket investments.

Since the onset of Covid-19, data consumption globally has syrged and in India too it has gone up, on the back of Work From Home, tele-medicine, online education and digital commerce. This, coupled with the upcoming Personal Data Protection Law has made the IT Ministry to come up with a framework for data centres.

Currently, data centers are restricted specific areas in the country such as Mumbai, Chennai and Hyderabad, due to predictable power availability and reliable IT infrastructure.

Keppel DC REIT posts 20% growth

The Board of Keppel DC REIT Management Pte. Limited has reported a 20.5 per cent yearly growth for the second half and full year ended 31 December 2020.

The REIT has delivered a distributable income (DI) of $81.9 million for second half of 2020, an increase of 39.1 per cent when compared to the same period last year when it posted $58.9 million. For fiscal 2020, the DI came in at $156.9 million, an increase of 38.6 per cent over FY 2019’s $113.2 million.

Real estate investment trust or REITs is a company that owns, operates or finances income-producing real estate, thereby providing investors a chance to own valuable real estate, and an opportunity to access dividend-based income.

Accordingly, Keppel DC REIT has declared a DPU of 4.795 cents for 2H 2020, bringing the FY 2020 Distribution Per Unit (DPU) to 9.170 cents. This is 20.5 per cent above FY 2019’s 7.610 cents.

Keppel DC REIT delivered total Unitholder returns of 38.4 per cent for FY 2020, and 311.6 per cent since listing in December 2014, as at 31 December 2020, the company said. So far, Keppel DC has achieved total Unitholder returns of 38.4 per cent for FY 2020, which translates to 311.6 per cent growth, since listing.

The growth in DI was supported by full year contributions from Keppel DC Singapore 4 and DC1, as well as new acquisitions in Europe, the company said.

During the year, Keppel DC REIT strengthened its European presence with three DPU-accretive acquisitions. This included, the remaining 999-year leasehold land interest at Keppel DC Dublin 1 in Ireland and Kelsterbach Data Centre in Germany in first half of 2020, as well as Amsterdam Data Centre in end of December 2020.

Also, during the year, Keppel DC REIT was included in the benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) from October 2020. The REIT is also a constituent of the FTSE EPRA Nareit Global Developed Index, MSCI Singapore Small Cap Index and the GPR 250 Index Series. The inclusion in these globally-recognised indices further increased Keppel DC REIT’s visibility among global investors, and enhanced its trading liquidity.

Why the Transformation of State-owned Chinese Companies Will Take Time

China’s ‘new infrastructure’ plan has become a buzzword for attracting more players and investments. Even as plans are afoot to attract new companies, traditional state-owned companies, more popularly known as Public Sector Enterprises (PSEs), are also keen to expand their role, so that they can catch up with the wave.

Since China’s reform and opening-up of the economy, CCP (Chinese Communist Party) has been striving to gradually allow the markets to play a decisive role in resource allocation, the situation in China’s state-owned companies is much more complex. Some big state-owned enterprises are entering the ICT market or considering to enter the market but things are not going well. Case in point – the acquisition of Global Switch by a Chinese consortium led by Chinese steel maker, Jiangsu Sha Steel Group.

Traditional Industry Faces Challenges

In the 2019 annual competitiveness ranking by World Steel Dynamics, five Chinese steel companies were among the top 50 companies.

The top Chinese steel maker is China Baowu’s Baoshan Iron and Steel Co Ltd (Bao Steel) which was ranked at No 15. It was followed by China Steel in Taiwan at 22, Anshan Iron and Steel Group Co Ltd (An Steel) at 24, Maanshan Iron and Steel Co Ltd (Ma’gang/ Ma Steel) at 31, and Jiangsu Shagang Co Ltd (Sha’gang/ Sha Steel) at 34.

As a key fundamental industry of the national economy, the steel industry, like other traditional industries, is facing challenges such as overcapacity, cost reduction, efficiency increase, energy conservation and emission reduction. Digitalization is the only way for the transformation and upgrade of the steel industry.

Bao Steel, the leader, is the first to have led the consolidation in the Chinese steel sector in the last decade, and has consistently expanded output through several mergers and acquisitions. In August 2000, Baosteel established a subsidiary called Bsteel which is fully owned by Baosteel to delegate its own e-business implementation and maintenance to a separate business unit. At the end of 2006, Bsteel transferred its ICT coding and development business to a similar company fully owned by Baosteel: Baosight (/Bao’Xin Soft). Baosight focuses on Baosteel’s internal ICT platform, ERP, production specific applications, ICT infrastructure operations and user support activities.

Now, Baosight has a bunch of data center facilities. Backed by the Baosteel group, Baosight enjoys significantly resources and cost discount, benefitting by the parent company’s extensive networks and partnerships. From October 2013, Baosight has completed the construction of Baozhiyun Phase I/II/III IDC project through a series of equity financing and self-financing in Baoshan District, Shanghai. The largest data center industrial base in Shanghai focuses mainly in wholesale business and then service outsourcing business (including maintenance and repair of information system, rail transit vehicle system control components, cloud computing operation service, IDC operation service) with an industrial scale of nearly 20,000 cabinets in 2018. The operating income has reached 1.29 billion Yuan at that time. In 2019, the fourth phase of Baozhiyun plans to add 9,000 cabinets so that the four phases of Baozhiyun reached total 27,500 cabinets. Besides, in 2019, the Wuhan Iron and Steel Big Data Industrial Park is set to be built with 18,000 cabinets in the following two years (Phase I: 2216 cabinets in 2019).

State-owned companies in steel industry has boosted a lot of initiatives to heighten its corporate competitiveness in the age of ‘big data’, steer its business direction to meet the market demands for information, and optimize the synergy between the traditional industry of steel manufacturing and the new industry of information technology. Despite the success of the transformation of Bao Steel, the other four Chinese steel giants are not going well when exploring new business.

Being a well-established enterprise in the steel manufacturing industry, Shagang (Sha Steel) has also committed to a business diversification to data and information technology since 2017. It became the controlling shareholder of Global Switch in 2019. Recently, the owners of Global Switch are exploring a sale that could value the London-based data center operator at 8 billion pounds ($10.9 billion) or more.

Challenges and Dilemma

From the time Deng Xiaoping unleashed market reforms in an effort to increase investments in China, the onus was always on the government to whole heartedly lead the investment symphony. The scenario continues till this date. Recently, China has begun rolling out its ‘new infrastructure’ campaign all around the nation, which provides an opportunity for all market players. Compared with the traditional infrastructure, the main force for the investment of the ‘new infrastructure’ are market players instead of the government. Favorable policies have been issued not only for domestic investors but also for foreign ones.

Now, China is working on expanding and opening up policies to foreign investment, even more.

Under the ‘New Infrastructure’ push, it seems that the strengths of state-owned companies are weakened (although still have great advantages especially in resources) and they are brought to the same starting point in the race with other players. The difference is that they have their own responsibilities and path to step forward.

‘New infrastructure’ is not a strong stimulus, but a new economic growth engine for China in the future, which also serves as the most active and productive driver that is full of opportunities for productivity factor optimization and potential improvement. As the new infrastructure is closely connected with the development of new technology, all state-owned enterprises need to achieve their industrial upgrading before they explore new fields.

Besides, in terms of investment, it involves new form to attract public investments. In the process of promoting the ‘new infrastructure construction’, more attention will be paid to explore the innovation of investment and financing mechanism, so as to further stimulate the enthusiasm of private investment, foreseeably through Real Estate Investment Trusts or REITs.

Over years of development, the marginal utility and earnings of the traditional infrastructure decreases progressively. The ‘new infrastructure’, backed by technological innovation, will create jobs and increase earnings in a short period, and facilitate structural transformation and upgrading, thereby bringing along a sound economic development in the mid-and-long term.

Although the role of State-owned companies has been proved to be important in this economy as they have traditionally assisted the government in reforms, they face the challenges they never met before. Not to mention the state is encouraged to divest from other industries by decreasing its ownership.

With the geopolitical situation entering another new normal with the election of Joe Biden and the US President and a pandemic that still continues to hover, investment flows in the future will strongly depend on how age-old enterprises adapt in the post-COVID world. The sooner State enterprises realise this fact, the better.

For more insights on China, do check out our digital event China Datacenter Market Insights happening on March 5!

AT TOKYO to open new data center in 2023

Japanese data center company AT TOKYO announced the launch of a new data center in Tokyo which will commence operations in 2023.

 Named Chuo Center #3 (CC3), the data center will be located within Tokyo’s 23 Wards, special municipalities that are at the center of Tokyo’s Metropolitan area. The facility will be approximately 32,000 square meters with five server room floors.

Upon completion, this new urban-type data center will provide businesses in Japan with added value and boost their infrastructure transformation in Japan’s highly digitalised society.

Construction is expected to complete in September 2023, and operation inauguration is expected to be in October 2023.

Japanese data center market: one of Asia’s most valuable

The data center market in Japan is one of the largest in the Asia Pacific region, and according to advisory and intelligence firm Arizton, it is likely to continue growing at a CAGR of over 3% from 2020-2025.

As of 2020, the Japanese cloud services market is estimated to value at around $6 billion. Japan’s long-standing reputation as one of Asia’s main financial hubs means significant investments from the biggest colocation service providers, including AT TOKYO, NTT, and Equinix.

With the country currently still battling COVID-19, digitalisation in Japan has become more crucial than ever. In February 2020, the Japanese government appointed the services of cloud computing giant AWS to build a government cloud infrastructure for human resource and document management.

AT TOKYO currently has six data centers across Japan, with two in Osaka and four in Tokyo.

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APAC’s Secure Content Management (SCM) market to reach $2.2 billion by 2024: Frost & Sullivan 

The Secure Content Management (SCM) market is expected to achieve an 11.4% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) to reach $2.2 billion in total web and email security revenues by 2024, revealed in an analysis by Frost & Sullivan.

Cloud-based deployments are projected to lead growth as more enterprises move their emails to the cloud and rely on the internet, including remote working, especially during COVID-19.

The overall email security market is maturing with slowing but steady growth. Heavily driving its cloud-based deployments are cloud-based email adoption, such as Office 365 and G Suite, and increasing regional remote workforces.

The larger but less mature Web security market is also benefiting significantly from the latter. Moreover, enterprises are more reliant on Web applications and moving their workloads into the public cloud, necessitating cloud centricity.

Malicious email and web links remain the most popular attack vectors 

Malicious email and web links remain the most popular attack vectors in APAC countries. Threats include more advanced and sophisticated targeted phishing emails, business email compromises, and malicious content.

“The addition of multiple functionalities into core capabilities is transforming web and email security options as organizations seek better compatibility with their cloud migration journeys and cost-savings simultaneously. Various integrations, including data loss prevention (DLP), cloud access security broker (CASB), and email/browser isolation, are blurring distinctions among cybersecurity solutions,” said Vivien Pua, Industry Analyst, ICT at Frost & Sullivan.

“The larger but less mature web security market is also benefiting significantly from cloud-based deployment security solutions given their scalability, flexibility, and lower cost.”

Pua added: “Larger enterprises often require dedicated web and email security to effectively detect, prevent, and remediate threats. These companies with larger financial resources generally prioritize performance and will opt for standalone solutions or best-of-breed options. Conversely, small and medium businesses (SMBs) are more open to integrated solutions or Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offerings, which offer them the necessary protection level, despite their limited security budgets.”

Strategic recommendations for further revenue opportunities

Cybersecurity vendors should explore these strategies, Frost & Sullivan recommended:

  • Assist enterprise customers who are migrating to cloud email by integrating and/or transferring their email security to cloud-based deployments.

  • Offer cloud-delivered integrated cybersecurity solutions to meet the business needs of remote workforces.

  • Prepare on-premises deployments or hybrid deployment solutions for enterprises reliant on traditional operating procedures or that face regulatory compliance issues regarding on-the-cloud deployments.

  • Explore new product development and acquisitions to match the security demands of the current and future threat climate.

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Oz Def Min to exit Global Switch data centre biz by 2025

The Department of Defence in Australia has reneged on its planned 2020 exit from Global Switch’s Sydney-based data centre by up to five years after plans to move all of its data from the facility fell short last year. 

The department extended its deal with the Chinese-owned facility under a $53.5 million contract last October

Defence had planned to shift all of its secret files back into a government-owned data centre at the end of its 10-year lease agreement Global Switch in September 2020, as revealed by the ABC.

The decision to leave was prompted by a purchase of half of the centre’s parent company by a Chinese consortium in 2017, despite assurances from the company that its files are secure. 

The move was slated to cost up to $200 million when planning began around three years ago.

But the new property lease gives Defence access to Global Switch’s Ultimo facility until September 2025.

Meanwhile, other federal government agencies, including he Australian Taxation Office and, more recently, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, have either moved – or are in the process of moving – out of Global Switch by 2022.

Australian Defence has also extended a separate property lease with Global Switch until September 2025 under an existing deal at a cost of $8 million.

A spokesperson told iTnews “the size of the Defence holdings made it impractical to migrate all the holdings from the data centre prior to the expiry of the Defence lease in September 2020”.

The department did, however, migrate some of its data holdings to an undisclosed “alternative data centre”.

“This was completed in mid-2020,” the spokesperson said, adding that “Defence has developed a plan to migrate its remaining holdings to cover the next three to five years, as supported by the government”.

Defence also uses other data centres, including Canberra Data Centres (CDC) for its billion-dollar enterprise resources planning (ERP) modernisation hosted on Microsoft Azure.

Asked whether sensitive data was stored at the data centre, Defence said it still “has data holdings at GSU [Global Switch Ultimo]”, adding that the facility is subject to Foreign Investment Review Board controls.

Last month, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute found that over half of all current federal government contracts were with one data centre provider, widely understood to be CDC, iTNews reported. 

“Contracts with the dominant provider totalled $620 million, or 79 percent,” it said in its ‘devolved data centre decision report’ [pdf] after analysing 87 current data centre contracts on AusTender.

Founded in 1998 and led by Chief Executive Officer John Corcoran, Global Switch, owns, operates and develops data centers in Europe and Asia Pacific. The company’s footprint currently spans about 390,000 square meters and its tenants include government organizations, mobile carriers and financial institutions, its website shows. The company posted revenue of about 439 million pounds in 2019, its annual report showed.

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Asian cloud providers prefer regional service providers: Survey

Asian businesses prefer regionally-based cloud providers as they can better serve their needs, revealed a survey commissioned by Alibaba Cloud, the digital technology and intelligence backbone of Alibaba Group.

Over 1,000 participants from Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, India, Indonesia, and the Philippines responded to the survey, which was conducted in late 2020 by an independent research organisation to understand the role of cloud solutions and confidence in Asian innovation among the business community.

The survey found that 65 per cent of the businesses in Asia have already adopted at least one technology solution from an Asian provider, while more respondents (72 per cent) said they believe Asian providers can provide better solutions because they have a better sense of understanding of the Asian mindset.

Among the regions represented in the survey, 74 per cent of Hong Kong companies have adopted local solutions.

“It is very encouraging to see the high level of confidence in Asian innovation among businesses in the region. With digitalization so strong a trend, especially on the back of the pandemic, we believe there will be many new opportunities to build on the strong perception of the region’s cloud capabilities,” said Selina Yuan, President for International Business, Alibaba Cloud Intelligence.

The survey also found a shift of customer priorities from integrating with the existing IT infrastructure to the security credentials of the vendors after the pandemic. More than half (58 per cent) of the businesses surveyed found the security credentials to be the most important, especially in markets like the Philippines (62 per cent).

The survey is an interesting insight into what businesses think, especially after the Covid-19 onslaught and in the era of increasing regulatory mandates with regard to data protection. Already, regulations such as GDPR, which is mandated by the European Union, place demand a much higher level of data-related compliance. Other major countries, such as India are also in the process of framing laws, which could have higher levels of data compliance.

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HGC brings hyperscale fiber optic network to data center in Hong Kong

Internet service provider HGC Global Communications (HGC) has announced that its hyperscale-focused fiber optic network is now available at AirTrunk’s latest hyperscale data center in Hong Kong.

Also based in Hong Kong, HGC will see its fiber optic network link said data center to not only other data centers in the island, but also to others in the Asia Pacific region.

The data center in question is owned and operated by Sydney data center company AirTrunk. Named HKG1, the facility opened its doors in December 2020 near Tsuen Wan, an important hub for international connectivity in Hong Kong.

“With state-of-the-art network infrastructure, far-reaching connectivity and software-based capability, HGC is well positioned to capture widespread market opportunities arising in the digital economy,” said Thomas Lee, Assistant Vice President of Global Carrier Data, International Business at HGC.

Hong Kong’s data center market to grow bigger

The availability of HGC’s high-speed network to AirTrunk’s data center illustrates Hong Kong’s status as a global financial and technology hub. Cloud and data center consulting firm Structure Research estimates that the Hong Kong data center market will reach a value of $1.7 billion by 2023.

Microsoft to test cloud-based self-driving cars with Honda, GM, Cruise

US vehicle manufacturing giants General Motors (GM) and Cruise are teaming up with Japan’s Honda Motors and Microsoft to bring self-driving vehicles to the cloud.

The partnership will see the three automaking behemoths leverage Microsoft’s flagship cloud and edge computing service, Azure, to scale the commercialisation of its self-driving vehicles.

GM Chairman and CEO, Mary Barra, described Microsoft’s involvement as “a great addition to the team”.

“Microsoft will help us accelerate the commercialization of Cruise’s all-electric, self-driving vehicles and help GM realize even more benefits from cloud computing as we launch 30 new electric vehicles globally by 2025 and create new businesses and services to drive growth,” she said.

Four parties have also come together in a new equity investment of more than $2 billion in Cruise, bringing the company’s valuation to a whopping $30 billion.

Cruise CEO Dan Ammann expressed delight at this collaboration. He says that the company’s mission to develop safer and better self-driving cars is not just a tech race, but also a “trust race”.

Cruise, as well as GM, have thenceforth also selected Microsoft as their preferred cloud provider to accelerate their digital transformation initiatives.

Infosys launches AI-first, cloud-first customer engagement platform

Infosys, a global leader in next-generation digital services and consulting, today announced the launch of Infosys Cortex, its customer engagement platform, aiming to “humanize customer experience, empower agents and drive intelligent operations for enterprises”.

The platform leverages technology from Genesys, a global leader in cloud customer experience and contact center solutions, along with Contact Center AI services from Google Cloud and its managed artificial intelligence (AI) and analytics services.
Infosys Cortex aims to revamp customer care operations by providing intelligence to aid purposeful customer communication, smarter and faster decision-making, and deliver value at scale.
Using the power of cloud and a modular microservices based architecture, it helps enterprises achieve up to 40 per cent faster and more effective agent hiring and learning, the company said.
It also brings up to 30 per cent improvement in agent performance with training before operationalising the contact center, it added.
Furthermore, Infosys Cortex drives up to 30 percent improvement in satisfaction for customers through intent prediction and self-service, along with up to 40 per cent improvement in operations through cognitive automation and analysis of contextual data across systems using Infosys Data and Analytics Platform powered by Google Cloud.
Together with Google AI-powered voicebots, chatbots, interaction analytics, and an industry-leading IVR from Genesys, businesses can shift from being remote-ready to driving digital customer service from anywhere. They can also grow the effectiveness of their customer care with increased first-call resolution, reduced average handle time, decreased call volume, and improved service-to-sales conversion.
“Our experience of managing the IT landscapes of large complex enterprises, expertise across industry domains, and strengths in enabling workforce learning uniquely equips us to help businesses deliver customer delight. With Infosys Cortex, we can now share with them the digital capabilities to future-proof their customer relationships”, said Ravi Kumar, President at Infosys.
“The next wave of CX (customer experience) solutions are built to improve decision velocity. Machines can make 100 decisions per second, humans can make one per second but often get bogged down in management committee for weeks,” said Ray Wang, Founder and Chairman, Constellation Research, Inc.
“When AI is applied to CX, agents have the context they need to make faster and more precise decisions. As agents are augmented by AI, they can deliver more personalized experiences.”
Infosys’ new product is part of the growing interest in AI-power customer service. In fact, $13.9 billion was invested in CX-focused AI and $42.7 billion in CX-focused Big Data and analytics in 2019, with both expected to grow to $90 billion in 2022, according to IDC.

ByteDance’s launch of new mobile payments on Chinese version of TikTok

ByteDance has launched its own payments service for Douyin, the Chinese version of its video app TikTok.

Currently, Douyin’s 600 million daily active users can buy virtual gifts for streamers or from stores on the site through Alipay and WeChat Pay.

However, now ByteDance is also offering a Douyin Pay option, taking advantage of the third-party payment license it acquired when it bought Wuhan Hezhong Yibao Technology last year.

Unlike TikTok, Douyin users can already sell merchandise since 2017 and it is now used by millions of people to shop everyday, according to Reuters.

The new launch will be a further step of ByteDance’s venture into the FinTech and e-commerce industry. 

This move is set to challenge the duopoly of WeChat Pay and AliPay, each has a 55.4% share and 38.5% share, respectively, in China’s mobile third-party payment market at the end of June last year, according to research firm Analysys.

Other Chinese hi-tech giants, including Meituan and Pinduoduo, are also expected to compete in mobile payments, as per reported by South China Morning Post. 

 

Singapore government sets up 30 million dollar fund to drive commercial 5G

To further spur Singapore’s 5G drive, the government has launched a new $30 million fund to accelerate the adoption and commercialisation of 5G solutions.

Introduced by Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), the fund is part of the Authority’s 5G Innovation Program that aims to create a thriving 5G ecosystem that benefits individuals and businesses.

This means that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Singapore are now able to apply for a grant from the fund to support their digital transformation projects.

Mr. Lew Chuen Hong, Chief Executive of IMDA, hopes that this fund will see more SMEs in Singapore participate and seize the opportunities offered by 5G technology.

“5G is a key enabler for Singapore’s digital future, and I am encouraged to see our 5G partnerships with industry demonstrating good results, such as through more efficient and reliable port operations, and good progress on the ongoing trials,” he added.

SMEs that are interested in applying for the fund can submit a proposal to IMDA highlighting the commercialisation plan of their 5G-enabled solutions. Once approved, the IMDA will cover up to 70% of the project cost.

A new data center is coming to Noida, India

India’s city of Noida will see the development of a greenfield data center campus in the near future.

Singaporean data center group, ST Telemedia Global Data Centers (STT GDC), is backing the project. The proposed data center campus will cost an estimated Rs 600 crore, and will have a critical IT capacity of 18 Megawatts (MW) in its first phase.

As for the second phase of the investment, Alok Kumar, Chief Secretary of IT and Industrial Development at STT GDC in India added that a land parcel of around three acres has been identified by the investor, which means that IT capacity would be increased to 36 MW in phase two. This will be an additional estimated investment of Rs 500 crore.

“In view of the web-based and digitally driven economy gaining prominence, the state government is preparing a new data center policy with the objective of creating state-of-the-art data and IT ecosystem to meet the requirements of industry, enterprises and citizens,” Mr. Kumar added.

STT GDC’s presence is good news for both Singapore and India

A subsidiary of Singapore’s state-owned investment management firm Temasek Holdings, STT GDC has been expanding its footprint in India for several years. In 2016, the company acquired a 74% stake in Indian telco Tata Communications to grow its data center business in both India and Singapore.

This new data center campus is in line with the Uttar Pradesh government’s program to promote digital economy growth, said Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma.

Upon completion, the data center will cost a total of Rs 1,100 crore and is expected to provide nearly 80 direct job opportunities and around 1,000 indirect employment opportunities.

These initiatives are part of STT GDC’s expansion plans. Recently, it entered into  a strategic partnership with Hyosung Heavy Industries as it forayed into the South Korean market. This partnership is through a joint venture, where 60 percent of the data center partnership will be held by STT GDC and the remaining 40 percent will be held by Hyosung Heavy Industries.

Netskope expands security cloud services in Singapore data centers

US-based Netskope has announced the expansion of its security cloud services to data centers in Singapore. 

As part of the company’s efforts to grow its investments in the region, Netskope’s flagship private security cloud network, Netskope NewEdge, will be available to its customers in Singapore.

This means that some of Netskope’s most well-known clients in Singapore will be able to enjoy a range of cloud-based cybersecurity services. They include Trustwave, the cybersecurity arm of Singapore’s national telecom Singtel.

Tony Burnside, Vice President for Netskope Asia Pacific, comments that the company’s move shows that Netskope is a “champion for the modern workforce”. 

“With this NewEdge expansion to Singapore, Netskope is enabling organisations to securely scale their businesses without sacrificing speed or performance,” he added.

Improved performance cloud security services by Netskope NewEdge also means smoother operations for data centers not only in Singapore but also surrounding Southeast Asian countries including Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines.

According to a survey by cybersecurity company Palo Alto Networks Indonesia, Southeast Asian countries are becoming more aware of the importance of cybersecurity and protection from cyber threats.

Surung Sinamo, Country Manager of Palo Alto Networks Indonesia who conducted the report, said that 400 leaders of tech companies from Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Singapore are becoming more aware of the importance of preventing and thwarting cyber attacks that can potentially disrupt businesses, as we have seen in the last few years.

South Australian government chooses Atos as cloud provider

The government of South Australia has selected German cloud and cybersecurity company Atos to support the organisation with its digital transformation journey.

In a three-year agreement signed by both parties, the South Australian government agencies will leverage Atos’ Managed Platform Services (MPS) to deliver better data processing and cloud migration solutions.

Mike Green, Managing Director of Atos Australia, said that the company is “proud” to be chosen as a trusted partner of the government.

“We believe that hyperscale Cloud services can make a different kind of public service possible. We are excited to transfer that knowledge, experience and deep insights to embark on this journey towards a safe and citizen-centric future in South Australia,” he added.

South Australia’s capital city, Adelaide, is the fifth most populous city in Australia and is consistently ranked as one of the most liveable cities in the world.

Earlier in January, the government outlined a bold and ambitious tech strategy for the South Australian Government that brings together technology, cybersecurity and digital services.

The government is actively collaborating and partnering with agencies to achieve positive outcomes for the state. These include: developing a more resilient and innovative cyber security industry centred in Adelaide’s innovation hub, Lot Fourteen, through the Australian Cyber Collaboration Centre (A3C); and addressing and reducing the cyber and digital skills gap by developing education, training and pathways through cyber security traineeships for government, development of cyber school curriculum, and other skills growth activities.

Another initiative includes to improve online accessibility of government services for people living with disadvantage or a disability and improve the state’s cyber security posture by implementing the South Australian Cyber Security Framework (SACSF) across government and improve the industry’s awareness of the SACSF.

NTT Limited to offer free cyber sec solutions to mitigate SolarWinds attack

Technology services company NTT Limited will offer “specialised sensor” capability to help them determine their risk and potential means to mitigate attacks related to the recent SolarWinds incidents. This will be offered to specific clients, free-of-charge, the company said in a statement.

In December 2020, a supply chain attack through SolarWinds’ commonly-used network management software allowed malware to be distributed to at least 18,000 organizations around the world. Additional threats have also since been identified, potentially exposing many organisations’ applications and data.

In response to these supply chain attacks, NTT will provide companies that believe themselves to be at risk of compromise with their 30-day trial of its Specialized Sensor for SolarWinds Detection and Alerting across all platforms other than Azure, at no charge.

This offering includes:
Deployment of a specialized sensor in AWS and Google Cloud Platform environments for the detection of Indicators of Compromise (IOCs) specific to the SolarWinds breach.
Near real time notification to a client’s security organization in the event a compromise is detected.
An actionable incident report delivered automatically, immediately upon detection of IOCs linked to the SolarWinds compromise.

On 8 December 2020, cybersecurity company FireEye reported a breach and exfiltration of their Red Team tools. Ultimately, FireEye realized the breach had come via supply-chain attack carried out by the implantation of malicious code in the SolarWinds update server for the Orion Platform.

Sunburst attack

The attack on SolarWinds, dubbed Sunburst, loaded a Trojan into the SolarWinds software update. This malicious update infected SolarWinds Orion Platforms, thus compromising the networks of SolarWinds’ clients. The sophistication of the attack has led analysts to assert that the cyber event was most likely attributed to Russian nation-state threat actors.

On Friday, December 18th, Microsoft released a statement confirming that its network had been compromised by the malicious software updates from SolarWinds. FireEye and Microsoft were two of many companies affected by the attack. US-based organizations were targets of nearly 80 per cent of the attacks. Apart from them, organisations based in Belgium, Canada, Israel, Mexico, Spain, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) were also affected.

In response to the US attacks, the United States Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) issued an emergency directive to US government agencies directing them to immediately disconnect or power down SolarWinds Orion products. US government agencies believed to have been breached so far include the Treasury Department, the Justice Department, the Energy Department, and the National Nuclear Security Administration, among others. The full extent of the attack is unknown. It is highly probable that more victims will be discovered since damage from this breach is still being assessed and new tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) could be discovered.

Matt Gyde, President and CEO, Security Division at NTT Limited is of the view that threat actors have exploited disruption during the COVID-19 crisis to launch an accelerated wave of cyberattacks around the world. “The SolarWinds incidents were orchestrated by sophisticated operators and exploit the broad distribution of commonly-used software packages. NTT has now moved to proactively offer clients a way to identify potential problems in their technology infrastructure and take the steps needed to close those gaps,” he said.

Organisations can then engage with NTT for in-depth review, analysis, recommendations, and remediation including a rapid incident compromise assessment. NTT can also provide ongoing managed security services such as Security Operations Center as a Service (SOCaaS) and develop a Strategy for Supply Chain Security Assurance, to help clients monitor their technology assets and reduce risk from future threats.