Decarbonising DCs in SEA calls for a different approach

With the COVID-19 pandemic exploding the demand for digital services, it is also fuelling the need for increased data centre capacity all over the world.

South East Asia is witnessing a one of the fastest-growing markets for data centres, accounting for an estimated 13 per cent of the region’s total market size in value. Even as this is music to the industry’s ears, for the environment this tune could be jarring. The call on the decarbonisation of data centres is becoming the main focus – from Board rooms to coffee shops where the discussion is centred around sustainability.

Is Renewable energy a start?

According to the U.S.-based consulting firm Frost & Sullivan, the global data centre market’s investment is worth more than $200 billion and growing approximately 10 per cent per year. The International Energy Agency reports that data centre is accounting for 200 TWh per year in terms of energy consumption, which is about 1 per cent of the total electricity demand worldwide.

Talking about the three steps to sustainability, Ian Bitterlin, Consulting Engineer and formerly Visiting Professor at University of Leeds, stated that the industry is addressing the problem in a reverse manner when trying to push data centres to apply renewable energy rather than address the other two concerns, namely consumption reduction and process improvement.

“We’re pretending to ourselves that just having a renewable energy powered data centre is sustainable,” Bitterlin said. “It’s legal, it seems to be acceptable but it’s kind of unethical in what we are doing to the environment.”

so, what is the solution? “The first thing you should do is to increase the utilisation of data centres,” he said.

Holistic approach needed

Addressing this challenge at W.Media’s Digital Week in South East Asia 2021, PS Lee, Deputy Executive Director at Energy Studies Institute, explored three key factors affecting the efficiency and carbon footprint of data centres, namely location, IT load, and energy efficiency.

A geographical location that experiences extreme temperatures will consume more energy as the data centre physical infrastructure system has to work harder to maintain consistent moderate temperature and humidity levels. The local source of power generation also has a major impact on the data centre’s carbon footprint.

Regarding IT load, market watchers believe that it is the total power that all IT equipment in a data centre consumes, ranging from servers, routers, computer storage and networking, as well as the security system fire and monitoring system that protects them.

“The higher the IT load, the more power will be actually required to keep it up and to run in a higher carbon footprint,” he explained. “If you can start with operating the IT infrastructure more efficiently, then that would improve the overall energy consumption or reduce the carbon footprint.”

The traditional practices in data centres, which involves oversized physical infrastructure to support the IT load, has a negative impact on the overall data centre efficiency. Lee underlined that it results in under-utilisation of equipment, such as servers plugged in 24 hours a day without fully utilised.

“It should be more of a holistic solution mix,” said PS Lee, Deputy Executive Director at Energy Studies Institute.

A local zoom-in and a broader outlook

“Local context is extremely important,” added Lee. He gave an example of the limited landmass in Singapore. While maintaining its larger share and status as the key data centre hub in the ASEAN region, Singapore cannot deploy solar in the country.

“But that doesn’t mean we have to stop looking into this possibility,” he added.

To further the discussion on solutions, he suggested several other technology options in Singapore to decarbonise data centres, including chiller-less high-efficiency liquid cooling system by NUS and Coolest DC, liquid immersion cooling system by Nanyang Technological University (NTU), and chip integrated liquid cooling solution for data centres by Institute of Microelectronics (IME).

From a broader perspective, Valerie Choy, Regional Sales Manager at Schneider Electric Energy & Sustainability Services, stressed the importance of the data centre industry to address sustainability issues by affecting policy changes.

She observed that in the U.S. and Europe, renewable energy buying has gone far beyond data centre customers. However, in emerging markets, there is still a collective force that could drive policy changes and then benefit the wider industry players.

“It shouldn’t be just data centre,” said Choy. “Every industry needs to decarbonise.”

How SMEs can use Cloud to globalise biz

A year on, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect economies all around the world, forcing enterprises to turn towards technology to stay afloat or continue to maintain leadership in their business.

 

The Philippines is no exception. As an emerging market in Southeast Asia, cloud computing is helping small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to set in motion a radical digital transformation journey because many now realise that cloud is the key to diversifying and globalising their corporate footprint for greater returns.

 

Although there are many cloud native startups in the Philippines, there are still many SMEs who feel anxious about migrating to the cloud. Even as this is the case, Rhea Siangko, Cybersecurity, Risk Management and Compliance Manager at logistics firm GEODIS is of the view that it is less about whether enterprises are ready but more about whether they are obliged to given the current socioeconomic circumstances.

She was addressing delegates at W.Media’s Digital Week South East Asia 2021 virtual event.

Siangko cited legislation in the Philippines as an example. “The Philippines’ 2012 Data Privacy Act that requires SMEs to comply with data protection laws could push SMEs to digitalise,” Siangko explains.

 

Moving to the cloud saves money, time and effort

 

One strong selling point that cloud vendors make to hesitant SMEs is that cloud solutions save costs. How so? Henry Nguyen, Senior Manager of Information Security at Fullerton Health, explains.

 

He says that as cloud-based applications have a fast turnaround time, companies do not need to spend money on purchasing and maintaining in-house infrastructure. Next, many cloud services provide on-demand or as-a-Service (aaS) services, meaning that companies can place a ‘one-off order’ for any cloud service depending on the size of their project, and it will be completed as is.

 

Therefore, both these cloud features help save large amounts of money. “What we see is a shift from a capital expenditure model to an operating expenditure model,” Nguyen points out.

 

So which industries stand to benefit most from hopping on to the cloud? Any business where their core business is not in IT but rely heavily on data and analytics, says Siangko.

 

In this context, “startup enterprises in, for example, digital banking, are really slated to be successful when it comes to adopting cloud technologies compared to large corporations, because migration takes time,” adds Leonard Ong, Region Information Security Officer for APAC at GE Healthcare.

 

Infrastructure challenges still lay ahead

 

However, as much as transitioning to the cloud shows itself to be the best digitalisation plan, there are obstacles that need to be addressed.

 

Johnny Sy, Technology Adviser for the Philippine Rotary Magazine, reveals that the biggest cloud challenge that the Philippines faces right now is the country’s telecommunications infrastructure.

 

Compared to its Southeast Asian neighbours, network connectivity in the Philippines still trails behind. As such, e-commerce that is already booming in Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia still has much room for penetration in the Philippines.

 

Cloud is about achieving more with less. SMEs should view their journey to the cloud not as a burdensome infrastructure change, but an exciting business opportunity that benefits both the company and its customers.

With high flexibility, smooth deployability, and cost-efficiency, it is a matter of time that SMEs will eventually embrace this next-generation technology and transition to the cloud. The key is to start small and start early, seeemd to be the consensus amongst the panelists.

Vietnam’s Sacombank partners IBM to transform cybersecurity ops centre

Sacombank announces on Friday its further cooperation with IBM in an attempt to transform its Cybersecurity Operations Center (SOC), strengthening the Bank’s information technology security infrastructure.

IBM has proposed Saigon Commercial Joint Stock Bank (Sacombank), ranked as one of the top 50 largest enterprises in Vietnam by VNR500 Ranking, a 3-year roadmap for modernizing and improving SOC. The SOC has been established and initially operated according to international standards from the beginning of 2020.

“Now with IBM world-class expertise and security standards, Phase 2 of the SOC transition will allow us to more effectively detect and protect against cybersecurity threats, ensuring customers’ data to be protected optimally and most securely,” said Tran Thai Binh, Chief Information Officer at Sacombank.

The SOC technology that IBM transferred to Sacombank is equipped with intelligent threat detection capabilities and is powered by IBM’s security analysis platform (IBM QRadar Security Information and Event Management – SIEM), following the same methodology as IBM SOCs worldwide.

The transition plan will focus on deploying new and enhanced existing SOC equipment, including upgrading QRadar infrastructure; integrating Security Orchestration, Automation and Response (SOAR) tools to create an agile Incident Response (IR) process; preventing against personal uses of information related to threat documents; implementing Qradar Network Insight (QNI) to identify real-time malicious content and attack alerts (Indicators of Attack (IoA)); extending security monitoring to 250 additional log sources, deploying user framework and libraries; as well as conducting an annual review for SOC.

“Cybercriminals are constantly developing cybersecurity attack tactics for financial gains, disrupting or damaging the reputation of businesses,” said Pham Thi Thu Diep, General Director of IBM Vietnam. “In such situations, it is important for businesses to have SOCs with industry-leading technology in place to operate and respond in a timely manner.”

According to the 2020 Cost of a Data Breach Report conducted by IBM and Ponemon Institute, it takes the financial industry about 233 days to detect and defend against cyberattacks. The financial services industry has lost $ 5.85 million due to data breach, ranked third in the average cost of losses among 17 industries studied.

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Filipino and Thai telcos partner to bring 5G roaming

Globe Telecom, a major provider of telecommunications services in the Philippines, has announced its collaboration with roaming ally and Thailand’s largest telecom operator, Advanced Info Service Plc (AIS), to launch 5G roaming service in Thailand this Monday (February 22).

The service is said to deliver “an ultra-fast and worry-free roaming experience” for users coming to this country amidst ever-increasing demand for better connectivity, which got accelerated by the pandemic.

“Although travelling may be challenging at the moment, we recognize that some Filipinos will find it necessary to leave the safety of their homes to fulfil important obligations abroad,” said KD Dizon, Globe’s Head for Consumer Mobile Business. “As such, they are assured of instant and seamless connectivity wherever they are with Globe’s 5G roaming service.”

Roaming is a popular telecommunications concept that 2G/3G/4G subscribers have already enjoyed in the past decade, allowing the subscribers to use their mobile services outside of the home networks or the service provider’s coverage area.

Using 5G-powered smartphones while travelling, Globe users can enjoy HD quality video calls and live streaming on social media with 5G’s ultra-fast speeds and uninterrupted connection within any 5G-ready areas in which cross-border operators agree to share accesses.

During the outbreak of COVID-19, Thailand is the first country in ASEAN launching 5G commercial services, followed by Vietnam and the Philippines, as opposed to analysts’ previous predictions of them lagging behind in the region. The 5G stand-alone service of AIS has reached all 77 Thai provinces since last August.

Currently, as Globe is working towards rolling out its 5G roaming services in more key markets in Asia, Middle East, North America, and Europe with the help of its roaming partners, Globe subscribers travelling overseas can enjoy the benefit of 5G network in various parts of the world in the near future.

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Vietnam rolls out IPv6 For Gov, ready for 5G and Smart City plans

The Ministry of Information and Communications of Vietnam (MIC) has announced a national program on Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) transition for state agencies (IPv6 For Gov) during the period 2021-2025, replacing the older IPv4 protocol.

IPv6 is the Internet’s latest addressing scheme and essential for 5G adoption, e-government implementation, and massive digital transformation.

Deputy Minister of Information and Communications Nguyen Huy Dung said that by 2022, half of the ministries, agencies, and localities are set to adopt IPv6 transitional plans and successfully shift towards IPv6.

A full transition is expected to be completed by 2025, with a nationwide adoption reaching 70-80 per cent.

The programme is rolled out in parallel with a plan to upgrade and modernize Vietnam’s IT systems, synchronously connect the Internet, online portals, and public service portals of state agencies to ensure information security, develop digital infrastructure, and enhance the Internet’s capacity to meet people and businesses’ demands on accessing state services via IPv6.

By December 2020, Vietnam has 11 million Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) subscribers and more than 34 million IPv6 mobile subscribers, with the IPv6 usage rate surpassing 47% (1.7 times the global average), ranked 2nd in the ASEAN region, 3rd in Asia, and 8th globally, according to the global intelligent edge platform Akamai.

The IPv6 services in Vietnam are currently provided by four telecommunication giants Viettel Group, VNPT Group, MobiFone, and FPT Telecom. The first three companies are also approved by MIC for piloting 5G commercialization in Vietnam.

With the early deployment of 5G services, Cisco predicts that Vietnam could reach roughly 6.3 million 5G subscribers by 2025 and increase the revenue of mobile service providers by about $300 million per year.

As a part of the Ministry’s strategy on the development of information and communications sector, apart from the IPv6 For Gov program, the Ministry also sets out plans to support the formation of at least three smart cities in the country in 2021, proceeding to establish a chain of smart cities in three key economic regions (Northern, Central, and Southern Vietnam) with extensive 5G coverage.

“Know” your data before achieving Data Sovereignty: SEA experts say

Data sovereignty, data residency and data localization are among the most hotly debated topics worldwide. Addressing the challenges, experts at W.Media’s Digital Week in South East Asia 2021 consider data classification as the main concern before rolling out any data protection policies for organizations and for countries.

According to Deloitte’s “Data and privacy protection in ASEAN” report, ASEAN is the gateway for an estimated $5.3 trillion of global trade each year and achieves one of the highest Internet and mobile penetration in the world with nearly four million new users expected to come online every month over the next five year. This comes with a great number of cybersecurity risks that may threaten the socio-economic growth of the region.

In Malaysia, the government and companies are stepping up the game with attempts to practice holistic protection and compliance policies on data.

Sina Manavi, Malaysian Senior Manager at Information Security Governance of AIA Group, said that Malaysian government was trying to invite investors to invest in cloud within the country and encourage local companies to build their own cloud service providers.

“I can tell that’s a good advantage because then we don’t need to have so much dependency on tech giant companies such as AWS or Google Cloud,” he said. “But basically, data security is not only about protection, it’s about the entire data life-cycle.”

In two contradict scenarios, data can be stored in a country, but used inside another country, and vice versa. Therefore, by data life-cycle, Manavi focused on the entire end-to-end process from the time and place that organizations create, process and store data.

“Given a certain dimension, we need to do the data classification. When you get to know your data, you can manage it properly,” said Manavi, underlining that as data is now mostly stored and managed unstructured, data classification of each single file and having a comprehensive data classification inventory remain significant challenges of the industry.

“You need to understand what is classified as public or private data,” added Sureendhran Subramaniam, Global Head of Cloud and Automation at British American Tobacco. “Then based on the data classification, you can be helped with the guidelines of GDPR and CSA to actually streamline or group the data as to looking at where it needs to be hosted.”

As a part of those challenges, Tanvinder Singh, Director of Cybersecurity and Privacy at PwC, also mentioned the overlap of Information Technology (IT) and Operational Technology (OT), which results in the misuse of technologies in tracking people and scraping personal data without consent during business processes.

“As they [IT and OT] are getting connected, I think we opened up that highway where anybody can misuse the access and OT has not been developed with keeping security in mind,” Singh said.

From a country perspective, the question is around mismatching between different regulations, especially when the world is not having one global governance framework to manage data.

“Make sure your partners understand your business, understand your organization, and understand the laws locally and globally,” said Subramaniam. “We got the policies, and what we need to achieve to make sure that it fits the different countries in terms of sovereignty and localization.”

Airtel and Qualcomm collaborate for 5G in India

 

Indian communications solutions provider Bharti Airtel will collaborate with Qualcomm Technologies for accelerating 5G in India.

Through Airtel’s network vendors and device partners, Airtel will utilise the Qualcomm 5G RAN Platforms to roll-out virtualized and Open RAN-based 5G networks. Airtel, as a board member of the O-RAN Alliance, is committed to driving the success of O-RAN and is working with Qualcomm Technologies to explore and implement the O-RAN approach for India.

The flexible and scalable architecture of O-RAN will create new opportunities for small and medium-sized businesses to become viable players in the deployment of 5G networks.

Recently, Airtel claimed that it became India’s first telco to demonstrate 5G over a LIVE commercial network in the city of Hyderabad.

In addition, Airtel and Qualcomm Technologies will collaborate to enable a wide array of use cases, including 5G Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) that is designed to deliver broadband connectivity at Gigabit speeds to homes and businesses. This collaboration also aims to allow a faster rollout of broadband services in a cost effective and expeditious manner across India for “last mile” connectivity challenges that are becoming increasingly important in today’s remote, mobile-first society.

Airtel 5G solutions including FWA services will be able to deliver multi-gigabit internet speeds wirelessly to customers and open up a wide range of innovations. For customers, the ultra-fast and low latency of 5G will unlock a digital world of limitless possibilities – gigabit size file downloads in seconds and 4K video streaming on the go across smartphones and computing devices, Immersive Technologies such as Virtual Reality and SMART Homes with connected things.

Randeep Sekhon, CTO, Bharti Airtel said, “Airtel has been a pioneer of new technologies and our networks are fully ready for 5G. We are delighted to have Qualcomm Technologies as a key technology provider in our journey to roll-out world-class 5G in India. With Airtel’s integrated service portfolio and Qualcomm Technologies’ 5G leadership, we will be well placed to usher India into the next era of hyper-fast and ultra-low latency digital connectivity.”

Rajen Vagadia, Vice President, QUALCOMM India Private Limited and President, Qualcomm India said, “There is a compelling case to accelerate the roll-out of 5G networks in India, as it will help fast-track the country’s socio-economic growth and development. We are pleased to be working with Airtel, and we are excited by the opportunity ahead. This collaboration is expected to play a critical role in Airtel’s plans to add 5G network coverage and capacity where and when it is needed the most.”

Despite boom, Data Centre industry faces talent shortages in SEA

Data centre is a fast-growing industry with state-of-the-art technology applications, especially after the data challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The internet-related service usage during the lockdown has made it possible for the rising demand of data centres worldwide. According to a recent report from ResearchandMarkets.com, since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, data centre has become a booming market across the globe with an expected compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of over 2 per cent during the period 2019-2025.

In another report, South East Asia is witnessing an even more promising outlook with an estimated CAGR of over 6 per cent during the same period.

However, one of the after effects of this boom is a shortage of talent for operating data centres with essentially high-tech skill sets.

“Data centre industry is very exciting with a lot of new technologies, but it’s also quite a heavy industry,” said Edward van Leent, Chairman and CEO of UK-based energy consultancy EPI Group, at W.Media’s Digital Week in South East Asia 2021. “Because there’s a lot of turnovers, I think some of the shortage is created in the industry.”

Leent added that the jobs in data centers cause staff a lot of stresses with complaints about errors every day or even during the holiday. People tend to leave jobs after a few years and move into other industries.

“But what I get from practice is that you can get people, but to get the right skill sets, it becomes a problem,” he said. In developing countries, the lack of high-quality experts on data centres is a looming challenge.

For example, Vietnam, placed 15th in Asia in terms of digital quality of life as per a global report in 2020. It is now home to about 27 cloud computing data centres, invested in by 11 domestic firms with more than 270,000 servers.

Though the number is expected to increase by more than 60 per cent in the next three years, the staffing of highly skilled engineers who are able to operate those centres at an international standard is still under question.

“All over Vietnam, only three people have the CDCE (Certified Data Center Expert) certificates,” stated Binh Vu, general secretary and CEO of Vietnam Internet Association.

The choice of bringing overseas experts to consult local operations is critical, but as the pandemic is still threatening, in-person collaborations are impossible in every part of the world. Remote monitoring and remote management, therefore, become more prominent in the data centre industry.

“I think there’s a big shift in the whole market, where remote working becomes more acceptable,” said Leent. “The need for many of the people on-site moves towards a different balance that we have now.”

Employing people from overseas will come in hand with legal issues, for example, tax regulations. Still, he believed that the industry would be less dependent on local factors for the coming period.

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The past year has seen incredible leaps forward in our embrace of digital solutions, and we think it’s time to come together and talk about it. We’re bringing together thousands of IT leaders from across Southeast Asia, covering everything from datacenter deployment to digital banking. Digital Week lets you expand your network and engage with new markets from wherever you are.

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Vietnam to build 3 big DCs

Vietnam is set to build three ‘Big’ Data Centres by 2030, in an effort to enter the world’s top countries with regard to AI adoption.

The three centres on Big Data and high-performance computing are among the Prime Minister’s set goals for Vietnam to be listed in ASEAN’s Top 4 and the world’s Top 50 countries in terms of artificial intelligence (AI) by 2030.

The goals are stated in the National Strategy on AI Research, Development, and Application by 2030 approved by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on January 26, aiming at boosting Vietnam’s AI capacity to make it an important technological industry of the country.

As a part of this strategy, Vietnam will develop three national centers on big data and high performance computing, connect a network of big data and high-performance computing centers nationwide, and establish 50 open datasets in all socio-economic fields to enhance AI research, development, and application.

The country will also open three national innovative centers on AI, develop human resources of high-quality AI experts and engineers, build 10 AI brands of high prestige in the region, and aim to have at least one representative in the list of ASEAN’s 20 leading R&D and training facilities in this field.

To achieve these goals, the strategy puts forward action plans, including building a legal document system and legal corridor related to AI, developing an AI ecosystem, and strengthening international cooperation in AI. Countries such as Saudi Arabia have outlined their AI strategy and have committed around $20 billion in this decade, as they see information as the “new oil”.

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The past year has seen incredible leaps forward in our embrace of digital solutions, and we think it’s time to come together and talk about it. We’re bringing together thousands of IT leaders from across Southeast Asia, covering everything from datacenter deployment to digital banking. Digital Week lets you expand your network and engage with new markets from wherever you are.

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