Capital Markets tech provider Options Technology acquires Fixnetix

Abry Partners backed Options Technology, a provider of IT infrastructure to global Capital Markets has acquired Fixnetix.

Fixnetix is a part of NYSE-listed DXC Technology. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Fixnetix provides outsourced front-office trading services to investment banks, hedge funds, proprietary trading firms and exchanges worldwide and was part of DXC’s global banking and capital markets business. This deal supports Options’ growth strategy and combines two industry leading teams committed to optimising the service offered to their customers across the financial sector, the company said in a statement.

As a result of the acquisition, clients can avail of the extensive market data footprint covering the US, European and Asian Markets alongside R&D capabilities, including industry leading automation, monitoring and testing competences.

Options clients include the leading global investment banks, hedge funds, funds of funds, proprietary trading firms, market makers, broker, dealers, private equity houses and exchanges. With offices in New York, Toronto, Chicago, London, Belfast, Hong Kong, Singapore and New Zealand, Options are well placed to service their customers both on-site and remotely.

Expanding service capabilities

“We are excited to reach this important milestone with Fixnetix and view this acquisition as an opportunity to expand our service capabilities whilst providing further value for our customers and the overall market,” said Danny Moore, Options’ President and Chief Executive Officer. “Fixnetix and Options are highly complementary, and the deal combines Options’ comprehensive coverage in the US and Asia with Fixnetix’s European offering, allowing us to provide existing customers with the agility they need to respond to rapid changes in market dynamics.”

Tomer Yosef-Or, a Partner at Abry, said, “We continue to be impressed by the Fixnetix’s team’s capabilities and believe the combination, supported with our capital, will provide enhanced quality and breadth of services to existing and new customers. The collaboration we have already seen between the two companies gives us great optimism in the ultimate potential for the organization. We are excited to bring this transaction to a close and move forward together with the united strategy of building a leading and differentiated global IT Managed Service Provider highly focused on the financial services vertical.”

In 2019, Options secured a significant growth investment from Abry Partners, a Boston-based sector-focused private equity firm. This investment has enabled Options to considerably accelerate its growth strategy to invest further in its technology platform and expand its reach in key financial centres globally.

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Hydrogen emerging as a clean energy alternative to power DCs

As the drive towards sustainability is moving at a break neck speed, corporations on their part are making an effort to build “green” at the centre of everything. Most of the new data centre build outs are happening with renewable energy at the centre of powering its gargantuan needs. Take the case of Singapore. The country’s data centre industry accounted for 7 per cent of the countries total electricity consumption in 2012. This ratio is expected to reach 12 per cent by 2030 due to rapid growth in DC business.

Enter the Hydrogen!

Hydrogen is beginning to emerge as an important part of the clean energy mix needed to ensure a sustainable future. It can also help improve air quality and strengthen energy security. Falling costs for hydrogen produced with renewable energy, combined with the urgency of cutting greenhouse-gas emissions, has given clean hydrogen unprecedented political and business momentum, according to a report by International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

In February this year, Atos and HDF Energy announced their plan to develop a complete end-to-end long-term solution to supply data centres with green hydrogen generated by renewable energy. The new solution by Atos and HDF will be the first available on the market for data centres with heavy power consuming workloads, company officials said. HDF Energy is an Independent Power Producer (IPP) focussing on utility-scale clean power generation.

“We are constantly seeking to develop solutions to leverage our own sustainable journey towards decarbonization and to support our clients in theirs. In this perspective, the solution to be developed by Atos and HDF will be the first solution available on the market that will enable a full production datacenter with very demanding workloads to be operated using green hydrogen. This meets the expectations not only of operators, but also of the market and public authorities.” says Arnaud Bertrand, SVP, Head of Strategy and Innovation for Big Data & Security at Atos.

“We are very excited to develop the first-of-its-kind green datacenter with Atos. HDF is a pioneer in hydrogen-energy and it is very important for us to demonstrate that our Hydrogen-to-Power solutions are suitable for customers with a strategic need for a reliable electricity supply. This further development into the digital industry, where energy consumption is increasing every day, opens up a considerable worldwide market for us. The HDF-Atos partnership offers the first unique and sustainable infrastructure for this huge market.” stated Damien Havard, CEO at HDF.

Atos will provide a complete end-to-end green data center solution by designing and providing the hardware, software and integration services that make it possible to exploit the electricity produced by green hydrogen so that it can be used in data centres. This includes using the most advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies to optimise energy consumption.

HDF Energy will supply a power plant, which will provide predictable and firm electricity thanks to its high-powered fuel cells. These cells will be powered by green hydrogen derived from photovoltaic or wind farms.

According to US Dept of Energy, a data centre consumes 100-200 times power when compared to an office building. “Energy alone cosumes 50 per cent of a data centre’s operating costs,” according to Professor Wen Yonggang from NTU College of Engineering. Prof Wen’s latest work on DCWiz for Data Centre Digital Transformation has researched on green data centre, including data centre cooling systems, power systems and the world’s first tropical air free-cooled data centre testbed.

Where hydrogen helps

The current policy debate suggests that now is the time to scale up technologies and to bring down costs to allow hydrogen to become widely used. Hydrogen can help tackle various critical energy challenges.

It offers ways to decarbonise a range of sectors – including intensive and long-haul transport, chemicals, and iron and steel – where it is proving difficult to meaningfully reduce emissions. Additionally, it increases flexibility in power systems. Hydrogen is versatile in terms of supply and use.

Also, it is a free energy carrier that can be produced by many energy sources. Hydrogen can enable renewables to provide an even greater contribution. It has the potential to help with variable output from renewables, such as solar photovoltaics (PV).

Hydrogen is one of the options for storing energy from renewables and looks poised to become a lowest-cost option for storing large quantities of electricity over days, weeks or even months. Hydrogen and hydrogen-based fuels can transport energy from renewable sources over long distances.

Transition challenges galore

Even as the case for Hydrogen is attractive, concerns remain. From designing hardware to usage of software (that consumes optimum electricity), everything needs to be looked into minutely.

“In order to develop a green data center, there are many challenges to tackle. You need to reduce the energy consumption of the data center, and to make the consumed energy greener,” says François Trahay – Associate Professor in the Computer Science Department at the Institut Polytechnique de Paris.

At the hardware level, the servers need to consume as little energy as possible while providing enough computing power to process an increasing amount of data. This means that processor manufacturers constantly improve their hardware design so that billions of transistors only consume a few Watts while being able to process billions of instructions per second.

“At a data centre scale, the cooling of servers and the air flow within the server room is optimised in order to cool tens of thousands of servers with as little energy as possible. The heat produced by servers can be collected and reused to heat buildings,” points out Trahay.

At the software level, finding new algorithms that process data efficiently is key to reducing the energy consumption of servers. The other main challenge is to exploit computing resources efficiently by improving the operating systems or by grouping applications on a few servers so that idle servers can be switched off.

“In addition to the reduction of energy consumption, a green data centre also needs to consume energy that does not generate greenhouse gases,” opines Trahay. For instance, data centers in Iceland can be powered by geothermal or hydroelectric power.

Another possibility is to use wind or solar energy. But such fluctuating resources require to be able to adapt the energy consumption of the data centre, or to store the energy so that it can be used later.

Reality check

Development of blue hydrogen as a transition solution also faces challenges in terms of production upscaling and supply logistics. Development and deployment of CCUS has lagged compared to the objectives set in the last decade. Additional costs pose a challenge, as well as the economies of scale that favour large projects. Public acceptance can be an issue as well. Synergies may exist between green and blue hydrogen deployment, for example economies of scale in hydrogen use or hydrogen logistics.

Also, a hydrogen-based energy transition will not happen overnight. Hydrogen will likely trail other strategies such as electrification of end-use sectors and its use will target specific applications.

The need for a dedicated new supply infrastructure may limit hydrogen use to certain countries that decide to follow this strategy. Therefore, hydrogen efforts should not be considered a panacea.

Instead, hydrogen represents a complementary solution that is especially relevant for countries with ambitious climate objectives. Per unit of energy, hydrogen supply costs are 1.5 to 5 times those of natural gas, according to industry watchers.

Low-cost and highly efficient hydrogen applications warrant such a price difference. Also, decarbonisation of a significant share of global emissions will require clean hydrogen or hydrogen-derived fuels.

Currently, significant energy losses occur in hydrogen production, transport and conversion. Reducing these losses is critical for the reduction of the hydrogen supply cost.

Dedicated hydrogen pipelines have been in operation for decades. Transport of hydrogen via existing and refurbished gas pipelines is being explored. This may reduce new infrastructure investment needs and help to accelerate a transition, according to the IRENA report.

However, equipment standards need to be adjusted, which may take time. Whether the way ahead involves radical natural gas replacement or gradually changing mixtures of natural gas and hydrogen mixtures is still unclear, observes IRENA.

While international hydrogen commodity shipping is being developed, another opportunity that deserves more attention is trade of energy-intensive commodities produced with hydrogen. Ammonia production, iron and steel making, and liquids for aviation, marine bunkers or feedstock for synthetic organic materials production (so-called electrofuels or e-fuels that are part of a power-to-X strategy) seem to be prime markets.

However, cost and efficiency barriers need to be overcome. This may offer an opportunity to accelerate global renewables deployment with economic benefits.

How energy-intensive areas such as data centres use this will be interesting to look at, going forward.

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Pine Labs launches ‘Buy Now Pay Later’ in Malaysia

Asian merchant e-commerce platform Pine Labs, has launched its Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) offering in Malaysia.

Pine Labs has already achieved success with offline BNPL services in India where it has 95 per cent market share. The foray into Malaysia by the company’s subsidiary Pine Payment Solutions Sdn Bhd, which is a subsidiary of Pine Labs Pte Ltd.

The development comes at an interesting time when there is pent-up demand among consumers. After a prolonged period of lockdown, consumers want easier access to credit and merchants are looking for newer ways to revive sales.

Pine Labs’ BNPL launch in Malaysia will further accelerate digital payments adoption in the country and make it possible for merchants to sell more in this tough business environment post the pandemic.

Key investors in Pine Labs include Actis Capital, Mastercard, PayPal, Sequoia India and Temasek.

“We’re quite upbeat about the expansion plans around our very successful tech-focused Buy Now Pay Later product and are excited at its launch in Malaysia. It is an attractive option for all stakeholders, including consumers, who get affordable buying options, merchants who are getting an enticing proposition to woo customers back to the stores and boost their sales, banks and brands who get to build their brand loyalty. This integrated solution that we launched with Mastercard will now be further expanded to newer markets in the region,” said Kush Mehra, Chief Business Officer, Pine Labs.

CIMB Bank, AmBank, HSBC Bank, AFFIN BANK, and RHB Bank are the top banks in Malaysia that are already on Pine Labs’ BNPL platform. Some of the key merchants for which this solution will soon be rolling out include Senheng, DirectD, Ogawa, Gintell, Herbaline, and E.S.H. Electrical.

“At DirectD, our mission is to help every Malaysian stay connected via smart devices. We believe consumers today are looking for affordable ways to pay for their purchases. Pine Labs’ integrated technology-backed solution makes the Pay Later activation a seamless process, hence improving customer journey. We look forward to leveraging Pine Labs’ capabilities in enhancing our current system.” said Amy Tan, Communications Director, DirectD Retail & Wholesale Sdn Bhd, the largest and fastest-growing mobile phone retailer in Malaysia.

Also, Pine Labs subsidiary, Qwikcilver has made significant progress in evangelising and pioneering the Prepaid Stored Value and Gift Card category in the Southeast Asian region over the last two years.

The Qwikcilver Stored Value technology platform is now the most preferred Gift Card suite adopted by the leading organisations and networks in Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia. Some of the flagship enterprises, networks and brands that have deployed the Qwikcilver Stored Value technology suite include Lazada, CapitaLand, Frasers Group, PT. Mitra Adiperkasa (MAP Group), Indonesia amongst others.

Pine Labs provides an offline payments solution where on a single terminal, multiple credit issuers can make BNPL offers to customers. This could be an interesting offering in Malaysia, an economy that is expected to post positive growth this year as per a projection by The World Bank.

The company has ambitious plans to launch BNPL in the rest of the Southeast Asia markets. Late last year, Pine Labs had announced its intent to launch an integrated pay later instalment solution in partnership with Mastercard to markets like Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore, and Indonesia.

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China’s “Two Sessions” impact on the Data Centre industry

Thousands of China’s political, business, and social elite converged in Beijing in March for the country’s most important political event, known as the “two sessions”. The annual gatherings of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and the National People’s Congress (NPC) serve as a weather vane of China’s politics, revealing the central government’s priorities and plans for the coming year. Especially, this year-2021, it marks the start of the next five-year plan (China’s 14th Five-Year Plan, 2021-2025) and marks the Communist Party’s centenary year.

Many firsts

China has for the first time unveiled an ambitious roadmap for its plans to transform into a world-leading power by 2035, which rest on technological innovation and scientific research. With further strengthening the national strategic scientific and technological strength, data centers as the infrastructure are the foundation to empower the development.

Although the Chinese government has decided to ease restrictions on foreign investments, telecommunication sector for information security purposes remain largely off-limits to foreign investment, e. g. telecom operators must be majority-owned by Chinese firms.

Cybersecurity laws require operators of telecommunication infrastructure to store collected domestic key data and personal information in China. Foreign telecommunication business must therefore store data generated by China-based internet services in China. Regulators have also limited foreign investment in value-added telecommunication services.

On Oct. 21, 2020, China published a draft of the Personal Information Protection Law (Draft). Once formally promulgated, the Personal Information Protection Law, along with the Cybersecurity Law and the Data Security Law, will be the three fundamental data protection laws in China. Though no information has been provided as to a timeline for a revised or final version of the Draft, companies doing business in China are suggested to make necessary preparations wherever possible, considering the PIPL’s potentially wide-ranging impact.

Reforms, Reforms and more Reforms

“To build a new development pattern, we must build a high-level socialist market economy system, implement a high-level opening up, and promote mutual promotion of reform and opening up” is included in one of the eight key tasks in 2021. Under the framework for the overall strategy, China has announced a further opening up of its manufacturing and financial services sectors to foreign investment with the removal of seven items from its so-called “negative list” as part of an annual review.

On June 23, 2020, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and the Ministry of Commerce (MOF) jointly issued two “negative lists”, both of which took effect on July 23, 2020. These two negative lists enumerate the industries where foreign investment will either be prohibited or restricted. This is a timely follow-up of the promise made in the 2020 Two Sessions about further relaxing market access for foreign investment.

Now, the “negative list” runs to just 33 items – down from 40 – and is even shorter in China’s designated free-trade zones.

On January 29, 2021, the Shanghai and Shenzhen Stock Exchanges stated that in order to improve the supporting rule system for infrastructure public offering REITs and ensure the orderly development of the pilot work, in accordance with the overall work deployment of the China Securities Regulatory Commission, the Shanghai and Shenzhen Stock Exchanges have formulated and issued three major business rules.

These three major business rules are the “Publicly Offered Infrastructure Securities Investment Funds (REITs) Business Measures, Publicly Offered Infrastructure Securities Investment Funds (REITs) Rules Application Guidelines No. 1-Audit Concerns and Public Offering of Infrastructure Securities Investment Funds (REITs) Rules Application Guidelines No. 2-Offering Business. All these will be implemented on trial basis.

The official release of these three rules signifies that the Shanghai and Shenzhen Stock Exchange has made phased progress in promoting the pilot work of infrastructure public offering REITs.

The chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission, Yi Huiman, mentioned the core task of “increasing the proportion of direct financing.” Infrastructure REITs are one of the direct financing tools. Shenzhen Stock Exchange currently reserves nearly 40 projects in the fields including data centers and industrial parks logistics.

Aiming to finance China’s next phase of development through digital infrastructures, including 5G, data centers, logistics centers for E-commerce, and cross-border digital trade warehouses, etc., Infrastructure REITs is regarded as an important initiative to boom digital economy. China needs innovative and structured financial instruments to share market-based risks and returns between the public and private investors.

Contrary to the Western REITs experience, China’s main goal is to support China’s digital infrastructure building. The plan specifically excluded residential and commercial real estate properties from the REITs, meaning China’s REITs are not designed to finance real estate developments and properties.

Lesson for Big Tech?

China’s antitrust enforcement remained robust in 2020 and is expected to and reach the peak in 2021. The State Administration for Market Regulation (“SAMR”) issued a flurry of new guidelines in the antitrust space that provide more guidance on its enforcement priorities and its interpretation of the law.

This could be a pivotal year.

On February 7, 2021, SAMR issued Anti-Monopoly Guidelines for the Platform Economy Sector (“Platform Guidelines”), which follows a string of actions taken by the Chinese government to regulate the internet platform sector, tightening existing restrictions faced by the country’s tech giants. Most notably, the suspension of the initial public offering by Ant Group.

Recognizing that there are difficulties and enormous discrepancy in applying traditional antitrust enforcement approaches to the platform economy sector, the Platform Guidelines come into being. It is worth mentioning that, the Platform Guidelines acknowledge the complexity of the platform economy and that a market would not necessarily be defined by reference to an undertaking’s basic services. As a result, if the platform is a distinct market or one that involves multiple related markets are took into consideration.

The state supports the innovation and development of platform enterprises, enhances international competitiveness, and supports the common development of public and non-public economies. At the same time, it is necessary to regulate development in accordance with the law and improve digital rules, and prevent the disorderly expansion of capital.

Conclusion

Every year, China’s most notable tech industry leaders are invited to the “two sessions” to help formulate a national vision for the country’s technological development. This year, new proposals from the heads of China’s biggest tech companies, including Tencent, Xiaomi, Baidu and Lenovo Group, seek to address issues such as upgrading digital infrastructure.

China has been ramping up efforts to build out and improve what it calls “new infrastructure”. The broad term applies to a variety of technologies and related areas, including 5G networks, artificial intelligence (AI), cloud computing, the Internet of Things (IoT), high-speed rail and research institutions.

The strategy outlines how China intends to become a leading global innovation engine, catch up to the average income level of developed countries, and display world class strengths in economy, global governance and soft power, as well as green development.

To achieve its goals, China will recalibrate its reform strategy, putting greater emphasis on the quality, rather than quantity, of future growth, with technology innovation and scientific research as key.

Software Technology Parks of India launches Blockchain CoE

Software Technology Parks of India (STPI) has launched Apiary, a Centre of Excellence (CoE) in Blockchain at STPI incubation centre in Gurugram, along with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), Government of Haryana, Government Blockchain Association, companies and top-tier academic institutions.

STPI Apiary would revolutionise the Blockchain incubation ecosystem by fostering R&D innovation and entrepreneurship while nurturing start-ups to build indigenous products. Blockchain dramatically reduces the possibilities of a data breach.

With all the fraud-resistant features, blockchain technology holds the potential to revolutionise various business sectors and make processes more intelligent, secure, transparent, and more efficient compared to traditional business processes.

At the launch of the CoE, Ajay Prakash Sawhney, Secretary, Secretary, Ministry of Electronics & IT, Govt. of India said, “Apiary is taking shape by bringing together all stakeholders. We can put India Stack in blockchain. Let’s seek those use cases where we can provide the solutions. 2020 is the time to become ambitious; it’s time for us to change.”

Jyoti Arora, Special Secretary & Financial Adviser, MeitY, Govt. of India, underscored, “We have a lot of expectations from this CoE. We have to bring the young people to the fore and empower them to create path-breaking solutions in blockchain.”

Dr Omkar Rai, Director General, STPI, said, “The kind of leadership we have for Apiary can help us to achieve the mandate of this CoE and succeed by translating the ideas of start-ups into world-class blockchain products. Our programmes will disperse the tech start-up ecosystem to Tier- II/III cities, and we are trying to reach the unreached and facilitating support for democratising product innovation.”

The 7,000 sq. ft. Apiary -CoE, at STPI-Gurugram, targets 100 start-ups in the coming five years. The centre aims to provide blockchain as a service and allow all stakeholders to benefit from shared learning, experiences, and resources.

The start-ups will be mentored by a group of accomplished industry and academic pioneers, led by the Chief Mentor Pankaj Thakar, CoE & Founder Padup and aided by a Governing Council (GC) & Project Management Group (PMG) consisting of top technology industrialists, investors, and academicians.

Several corporate and academic partners have already come on board, including IBM, Intel, Padup Venture, Indian Angel Network, Vintners Angel Group, Padup Syndicate and Venture Catalyst. Foundation for Innovation and Technology Transfer, FITT- IIT Delhi/Sonepat Campus, will participate as an academic partner.

The first Cohort of Apiary

STPI APIARY invited applications from start-ups and entrepreneurs for ‘Idea Challenge Program in Blockchain Technology’ in domains like Supply Chain, Agriculture, Finance and e-governance use cases about Land Records, Public Health, Labour, Service Record, Pension Delivery and Law Enforcement & Evidence Management. Ten best start-ups are onboarded, selected from 100+ applications received, in the first Cohort of Apiary.

The selected start-ups represent multiple industries, including Financial Services, Healthcare, Government, Travel and Hospitality & Retail. TraceFood, Jal Jaivik Bazzar & SATV Emerging Technology Private Limited are from the food supply chain domain, Swapnet Pvt Ltd & Trustless Capital are from the fintech domain, Calculus & Sofocle Innovation Labs Pvt are into eGovernance & Digital Records, Sofexsto Technologies and Procure+ are working in Healthcare sector and CredibleMe Pvt Ltd (A subsidiary of Snapper Future Tech) is from Education & Banking domain.

These start-ups are mentored by technocrats and domain experts. India will soon realise the massive potential of this technology and drive a new wave of decentralised applications, officials said.

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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.

How edge computing will exponentially grow the China market

Over the past decades, there have been paradigm shifts from centralised to decentralised IT environments: from mainframe server to on-premise server and from mobile to cloud environments. In many ways, it seems like an electronic dance music loop.

Nowadays, the industry is continuing to see growth of Cloud computing, which experts believe will continue to lead the ICT infrastructure market. In that space, Edge Computing will become an exponentially growing market in itself, with the increasing penetration of network-related technologies and initiatives, such as 5G and IoT.

According to Reply’s new research ‘From Cloud to Edge’, edge computing will be an exponentially growing market in all “Europe-5” (Italy, Germany, France, Netherlands, Belgium), and “Big-5” (USA, United Kingdom, Brazil, China, India) clusters’ countries due to the growing usage of 5G and IoT solutions. It is expected that Edge computing marketing would reach a value of $8294.5 million by 2025, according to Reportlinker.com.

All the industries that require the computing tasks as close to where data is originated as possible will benefit from Edge Computing. It’s time for global enterprises to design and implement architectures that leverage the best of Edge and Cloud Computing, “while ensuring privacy and cybersecurity” commented Filippo Rizzante, CTO reply.

China: 100+ Edge Projects Deployed in China Leveraging 5G and IoT Infrastructure

According to a new GSMA intelligence report ‘Edge Computing in the 5G Era: Technology and Market Developments in China’, noted that China’s leadership in edge computing is being driven by government support for new technologies and operator investments in new 5G and IoT networks. According to the ECC, there are currently more than 100 edge computing projects up and running in 40 cities in China across various sectors.

However, even as “China’s 5G numbers might look overwhelming, the quantity is well ahead of the quality.” Explained Robert Clark, a news analyst. “The real challenge in China will be in the industrial Internet.”

Though it’s still early, as networks become virtual or software-based, 5G will be the impulse for the next wave of multibillion-dollar infrastructure spending to spur innovation across many industries along with edge computing.

Take Chinese Grids’ Transformation as an example, China’s State Grid Corp (SGCC), government-backed biggest electricity distributor, has adopted a new focus for its smart grid development to build an electricity network plus IoT (E-IoT, essentially, is to deploy blockchain, AI, cloud computing, 5G, edge computing, and other digital/tech solutions upon the physical grid operation) by 2026.

Start from 2019, SGCC has already took steps to run its digital transformation. In 2020, Kou Wei, the current chairman of SGCC set off a landmark “white paper” for the e-IoT development, which set a grand vision to “establish an initial construction of the E-IoT network by 2021 and complete the E-IoT network development by 2026.” At the same year, working with Huawei and China Telecom, a largest-scale 5G-based smart power grid project in Qingdao of Shandong province was completed. Innovations in 5G telecommunication technology applications are applied e.g. DP facility suitable for 5G distribution power lines is equipped which can automatically eliminate faults of the lines within dozens of milliseconds (the one-way latency of the DP device is lowered to 8 milliseconds and the protection can last for 50 milliseconds).

SGCC has already taken further initiatives to build edge infrastructure nationwide in the next few years to advance its E-IoT network, a source who did not wish to be named told W.media.

“Creating a favourable ecosystem environment that supports technology developments and fosters innovation will ultimately determine the pace and magnitude of edge deployments in China and beyond.” explained Sihan Bo Chen, Head of Greater China, GSMA.

In the next few years, we will see more breakthroughs brought about by edge computing in BFSI, medicine, transport, industry, agriculture and the home. Edge computing gains an ‘edge’ in performance with data processing in an intelligent way as near as possible to its source that will bring practical benefits to help with the digitization of various industries.

The year of the Ox has dawned in China, named after a zodiac animal noted for its slow-but-steady approach. The description of China’s emerging 5G private network market could not be more accurate.

Curious about the cloud computing industry in China?

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CSaaS adoption on the rise as cos grapple with increasing threats

With the onset of Covid-19, Cybersecurity-as-a-service (CSaaS) is witnessing a significant adoption, as companies brace themselves for the ‘new normal’.

It seems like every year sets a “benchmark” for new and advanced cybersecurity threats. As private and public organizations scramble to hire security professionals and set aside the budgets to improve their defenses, cyber criminals continue to exploit even the minutest of technical vulnerabilities with ease.

If the evolution of cyber criminals is not something for an organisation to worry about, the COVID-19 pandemic has rewritten the rules of the game. “Cybersecurity as a Service (CSaaS) relieves the burden by reducing one-time investment (as such services are charged per month and as per the consumption),costs, increasing coverage and giving businesses you an access to experts they can count on to identify threats, vulnerabilities, and risks in their your environment,” according to Sunil Sharma, MD, Sales (India and SAARC) for Sophos.

Traditionally, CSaaS providers offer a Security Operations Center (SOC), Security Information and Events Management (SIEM) system, or both, he added.

Why use CSaaS

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated digital transformation for many organisations, which have moved to the cloud, to enable employees “Work From Home” and to maintain business continuity. A recent PwC survey of more than 10,000 business and IT executives even found that 62 per cent of organisations are now implementing this model.

Sunil is of the view that the pandemic has changed the mentality of organisations and their Boards towards cybersecurity. Organisations have realized the need to secure their assets in the current fluctuating protocols about working in and out of a home and main office. “They are also keen on being prepared for the future that is leaning towards Zero Trust,” he said.

A Zero Trust (ZT) architecture abolishes the idea of a trusted network inside a defined corporate perimeter. It is here that CSaaS comes in. Firstly, it provides effective defense to combat cyberattacks at an affordable costing model.

“Many Small and Medium Sized Businesses (SMBs) do not have a dedicated security team. A robust cybersecurity to combat cyberattacks requires the right tools, people and processes in-house to effectively manage security round the clock,” said Sunil.

Also, staffing a SOC and maintaining SIEM can be financially burdensome for many organisations. “It is a complex operation even for the large enterprises, so you can imagine the plight of smaller businesses,” noted Sunil.

CSaaS provides cybersecurity services as per an organizations’ need, at a convenient pricing model and at the same time help protect them when their business grows. IT leaders need to ensure their current cybersecurity defenses can stand up against active cyberattackers by including a proactive threat hunting component.

Adversaries are also changing their tactics, techniques and procedures to increasingly launch cyberattacks that combine automation with active human interaction or “hands on keyboard” hacking. CsaaS can better provide threat hunting services to the serve organizations that don’t have people and upfront budget to maintain cybersecurity in such a dynamic environment of evolving cyberattacks and can help organizations to achieve robust cybersecurity within their flexible budget.

Perhaps the biggest advantage is simply the long-term savings. Companies don’t have to deal with the costly overhead expenses involved with assembling an in-house team and acquiring hardware and software.

All this can quickly take a financial toll on a business. CSaaS is an effective alternative because it allows you to bypass many of the capital intensive these costs, thus reducing your financial burden, pointed out Sunil.

As cybercriminals continue to evolve their attack strategies, cybersecurity has become increasingly important for organisations of all types.

 

Socomec energises Singapore with a powerful UPS training course

Socomec, an industrial specialist in low voltage electrical networks, are committed to training the next generation of talents with an electrifying course on uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) in Singapore.

The course is part of Socomec’s wider Corporate Social Responsibility to give back to Singapore society, which has provided them with a conducive environment to enable businesses to thrive in the emerging economic bloc.

“We believe paying it forward is important, and one of the meaningful ways is to nurture the next generation of talents to continue this stream of skilled resources which underpins the very existence of this favourable environment,” said Andy Ng, General Manager of Singapore, Socomec.

The training course, in partnership with an educational institution in Singapore, is designed to cover three elements of understanding of why UPS systems are required and its importance in keeping an effective maintenance regime to reduce downtime, which is crucial for facilities like data centers.

First, the customised course focuses on theory and design, followed by operations, and finally hands-on experience with an opportunity to touch and feel a real UPS. Trainees are given an opportunity to understand the subject matter in greater depth, enabling them to make an objective-specific decision for their careers.

Overall, the training course is intended to enable employment, upskill and equip the future workforce with a strong and competitive skill set to sustain the widely talked about UPS industry and bring benefits across the value chain.

“Education builds knowledge, and knowledge develops skills and capabilities in people which translate into higher employability for them. This could unexpectedly bring to light hidden talents and capabilities which can positively contribute to the industry,” said Andy.

While Socomec does not expect anything in return, as the training does not guarantee surety of employment, the training gives back to society by providing a formative challenge for Socomec’s trainees, business partners and distributors.

“We received feedback that the course has helped to sell our product better, which is a testament to the efficacy of our training. We will continue to invest effort to ensure our training is relevant and current to the market evolution,” added Andy.

On top of the training course, Socomec also implements an ambitious internal training policy and a motivating approach to skills management for its staff.

“We are open to employ non-experienced individuals and will invest effort to train them on-the-job. For any shortcomings of our employees, we do not penalise. We take every bad experience as a learning experience to train our employees, so that they learn from it and become better,” said Andy.

This corresponds with Socomec’s credo of being socially responsible by taking care of the industry and its people.

Committing to a better world

As part of Socomec’s Corporate Social Responsibility, they have commitments to bettering the economy, their staff, the wider community, and the environment.

“We operate in a world intricately interlaced, having formal Corporate Social Responsibility guides corporations to run responsibly. Our CSR is contributive, collective, cohesive, and naturally requires an ethos that we believe in, which enables us to continue giving without expectations of returns,” said Andy.

Socomec achieves its economic commitments by optimising growth through a medium to long-term approach to decide their strategy and a growth model that favours profitability and use of equity capital.

The independent group also has an ambitious quality policy to ensure customer satisfaction by focusing customers’ power performance, building powerful partnerships, investing in new technological knowhow and fostering innovation at all levels of Socomec.

“The development of our Group is inextricably linked to ensuring that our customers are satisfied with our expert solutions … That is why the Senior Management is committed to investing the necessary resources to deliver this high level of quality, to ensure that it is respected and to guarantee that it is sustained in the long term,” said Ivan Steyert, the Chairman and CEO of Socomec.

With more eyes on environmentally-friendly solutions than ever before, particularly in the data center industry, Socomec produces their products ethically and responsibly, which provides a direct positive influence on the supply chain and enables other organisations to meet their CSR.

To meet this aim, Socomec is a member of the United Nations’ Global Compact initiative and implements eco-design and hazardous substances policy as well as a sustainable purchasing charter to reduce their environmental impact by developing innovative solutions geared towards energy performance and diversifying its offering in renewable energy.

Socomec is transparent about the responsible suppliers they buy from and its carbon footprint, which stood at 87,000 CO2 equivalent in France in 2016. 

As a result, Socomec was recognised by EcoVadis as a Gold-level supplier in 2019 for its approach to Corporate Social Responsibility, placing them in the top 1% of rated suppliers in its category, as well as in the ranking of all the companies overall.

Therefore, with its mid to long-term vision, reinforced by its culture and values, Socomec looks forward to the future to create lasting value that assures sustainable growth whilst respecting people, society and the environment.

> Discover Socomec’s innovative, responsible, sustainable and empowering solutions

SUSE appoints former Salesforce and SAP Account Director as first Southeast Asia Managing Director for next growth frontier

SUSE, a global leader in open source solutions, has appointed Isabella Kusumawati as its Vice President and Managing Director for Southeast Asia, a recognition of the region as an important market.

Ms. Kusumawati aims to significantly increase revenue in the region in the next three years by recruiting partners and top talent to reap the benefits of untapped business opportunities in one of the fastest-growing e-commerce markets in the world, despite SUSE acknowledging that Asia Pacific enterprises, large retailers, and brands are lagging in their platform strategies, putting them at a competitive risk.

“Our customers are looking for choice; they demand open technologies that help them drive their business outcomes. We are currently hiring aggressively as we look to expand the team to help our customers, communities and partners leverage open source solutions,” said Ms. Kusumawati.

In Nielsen’s What’s Next in Southeast Asia, the global measurement and data analytics company calls Southeast Asia the next growth frontier. It is an emerging market that is home to the fast-growing population with stable GDP growth and high digital connectivity, which increases the desire for more innovation in the region. 

Digital transformation is crucial for businesses to thrive and open source is playing a major role that delivers a robust foundation in the modern IT landscape, as well as cost efficiencies and innovation.

“The trend of enterprises leveraging open source technology will rise drastically like never before as it allows companies to develop an ecosystem that can advance faster innovation, enabling unprecedented scale, adaptability and additional new features supporting changing trends and customer demands,” added Ms. Kusumawati. 

Ms. Kusumawati is a senior sales leader with 17 years of experience in sales management, including new market and business development for tech companies such as Salesforce, SAP, Oracle and Microsoft. 

Phillip Miltiades, the President of SUSE Asia Pacific and Japan, said: “With the digital economy in Southeast Asia growing at a rapid pace, I am confident under Isabella’s leadership that she will be successful in building the market and growing SUSE’s business.”

Seagate launches two new gaming storage products

In collaboration with PlayStation, Marvel, and Crystal Dynamics, Seagate has announced the launch of two new storage products, which will upgrade the capacity and performance of gamers’ experience. 

 

The hard drives are compatible with the PS4 and PS4 Pro systems, offering 2TB of capacity, USB 3.0 connectivity, plug-and-play functionality, and instant add-on storage.

 

Seagate has also released the only external storage device that enables users to achieve the same performance as Xbox Velocity Architecture, enabling backward compatibility across all previous versions of Xbox.

The custom storage card delivers an additional 1 TB of external storage for a streamlined gaming experience, replicating the speed and performance of the consoles’ internal SSDs and Xbox Velocity Architecture.