How does Singapore’s Data Center Market impact the larger economy?

It is no secret that Singapore is the leading data center market in Southeast Asia, and one of the primary markets in the wider Asia Pacific region — decades of easy access and business-friendly policies have propelled the tiny city state into a meeting point for multinational tech corporations, and that includes some of the industry’s largest data center operators and investors.

So, what is the one largest impact of the data center industry on Singapore’s already bustling economy?

Ajay Sunder, Deputy Director of Strategy at SC-Nex, believes that it is the continued exemplary governance that Singapore takes around data protection and privacy that will make the country a leader in the region. As the volume of data grows, so does the need for stronger policies that guarantee data security. In this, therefore, Singapore can serve as a model for its neighbouring economies, thereby solidifying its position as the data hub of Southeast Asia.

On the other hand, Patrick McCreery, Head of Commercial at Keppel Data Centers, points out that the biggest impact of the data center industry on Singapore’s economy is added capability to develop next-generation technologies.

Data centers are directly tied to the digital ecosystem and infrastructure of a region, and Singapore already has the best conditions for a thriving tech hub. As such, it produces a synergic effect: 5G, AI, and Internet of Things (IoT) can thus be accelerated at greater speed.

Smart City initiatives and data centers

The capability of a data center is closely tied to the success of a smart city, and here is where the presence of data centers has the potential to influence the development of other sectors around it.

Mr. Sundar highlights how the data center industry cuts across the world’s six core sectors — metals, minerals, infrastructure, logistics, digital media, and real estate — making it one that is unique and thus charged with potential. Building a smart city requires a high level of skill in the core sectors, and a talented labour force. If a market has a large pool of talent in the above sectors, we will be able to see considerable growth.

Long story short, a data center enables the economy around it, and in this case, Singapore serves as a shining example.

Singapore’s short and long term challenges

However, this does not mean that Singapore’s data center market is without its challenges. Daryl Dunbar, a Singapore-based tech strategy leader and independent consultant, says that so far, much of next-generation tech skills are still constrained to the US and Western European market. This means that migration of such skills is one challenge that lays ahead if an economy such as Singapore wants to grow bigger.

“There needs to be a localisation of tech skills to allow for further growth,” he said.

Another challenge is sustainability. It is reported that data centers in Singapore consume about 20 percent more energy compared to the global average. Therefore, operators inevitably have to evaluate and improve on energy efficiency for data centers.

According to Mr. Sundar, questions that data center companies should address when going green, include: who their energy partner is, and how energy efficiency can be guaranteed.

“These will determine how operators will be perceived in the industry in the long run,” he added.

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PwC and Hong Kong’s HKBN Enterprise Solutions join hands to Help SMEs combat cyberattacks

PwC Hong Kong and Hong Kong-based IT solutions firm HKBN Enterprise Solutions (HKBNES) have announced a partnership that will help small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the island combat growing cybersecurity attacks.

Both companies have reached an agreement whereby HKBNES will provide the Big Four accounting firm a full range of cybersecurity services, including vulnerability assessment, phishing simulation, 7×24 SOC security monitoring, 7×24 remediation management to next-generation managed detection and response (MDR) services.

Kok Tin Gan, Cybersecurity and Privacy Partner at PwC Hong Kong said that the company is “excited” to be offered HKBNES’ suite of services.

“I am confident that PwC and HKBNES will co-solve the SMEs owners’ pain points by empowering more local businesses to enhance their cybersecurity readiness, helping them to build sustainable work modes and sail safe through the rough seas,” he added.

With a clientele of over 100,000 companies, Danny Li, Co-owner and Chief Technology Officer at HKBNES said that the company is here to massively scale its combined strengths with PwC.

“We’re proud to join hands with a world-class partner to bring SMEs a stack of best-in-class, enterprise-grade cybersecurity solutions at affordable rates, so that companies of all sizes can mount adequate security responses as they venture into an increasingly digitised brave new world,” he continued.

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Samsung begins mass production of SSDs for hyperscale data centers

Tech conglomerate Samsung has announced that it has begun mass production of its most advanced line of data center chips.

Dubbed the PM9A3, the SSD is built with the company’s sixth-generation V-NAND memory technology, a cell layer stacking method that increases the volume of data a chip is capable of carrying. PM9A3 has a sequential write speed of 3000MB/s, a 40 percent higher random read speed of 750,000 IOPS and a 150 percent higher random write speed of 160,000 IOPS.

Input/output per second (IOPS) is the measurement unit for how fast SSDs and hard drives are able to read and process data.

In terms of write speed, the chip is also 50 percent more energy efficient compared to its predecessors at 283MB/s per watt, making it highly suitable for modern data center facilities that place emphasis on green, renewable sources.

Why are SSDs so important?

SSDs form the core of a high capacity data center. Exponential cloud and 5G growth on a global scale means a demand for more data centers due to a need to store higher volumes of data, and this means a need for more powerful SSDs.

“Wider 5G deployment and accelerating growth in IoT devices are fuelling a hyperconnected lifestyle, driving the demand for more sophisticated hyperscale data centers,” said Cheolmin Park, Vice President of Memory Product Planning at Samsung.

“Providing an optimal mix of performance, power, reliability and firmware, we believe our new PM9A3 will help advance today’s data center storage technologies and expand the market for OCP-compliant SSDs.” he added.

On top of that, the PM9A3 is equipped with security features including user data encryption and authentication, and secure boot and anti-rollback mechanisms to block out unauthorised malware and ensure robust data protection.

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Huawei launches APAC’s first smartphone lab in Singapore

Huawei Technologies has launched a brand new regional lab in Singapore, its first in the Asia Pacific region.

Named DigiX Lab, the $40 million (SGD52.8 million) facility located at Changi Business Park will function as a one-stop consultation center for developers, offering support for next-generation technologies such as AR, VR, and AI.

This means that app developers are able to test their applications and services on Huawei’s mobile devices before launching them.

“In the era of 5G, Huawei aims to build a connected world with HMS that empowers developers to innovate as they build their business,” said Mr. Shan Xuefeng, Director of Asia Pacific at Huawei’s Consumer Cloud Service.

Mr. Nicholas Ma, Chief Executive of Huawei International, added that the lab serves as an example of Huawei “doubling down on future growth in Singapore.”

Its first in APAC, DigiX Lab is Huawei’s second in the world after the first in Düsseldorf, Germany.

Deepening ties in Southeast Asia

DigiX Lab is one of many steps that Huawei is taking to strengthen its presence in Southeast Asia’s tech ecosystem. The company has recently signed a deal with the Malaysian government to construct the region’s first cybersecurity lab.

In Thailand, Huawei has also been actively providing support for both public and private sectors to push for greater digital transformation in AI, cloud, and Internet of Things (IoT) technology.

Australia’s Vault Cloud and Aruba form cloud security alliance

Australian cloud vendor Vault Cloud has announced a partnership with US-based Aruba to strengthen the company’s network control system for its public service clients.

The collaboration will see Vault Cloud leverage Aruba’s policy management platform, ClearPass to keep networks secure.

Vault Cloud’s very own Network Policy Manager as-a-Service (NPMaaS) solution will also be adopting Aruba’s Zero Trust Security offering, which enables wired and wireless devices on a network to be easily identified and assigned identity-based policies to keep corporate and campus networks safe.

“We are incredibly proud to be partnering with Vault Cloud to deliver a faster and more secure network control system for our public sector,” said Pat Devlin, Director of Aruba South Pacific (ANZ).

“The partnership will not only see the ClearPass experience further streamline user network connectivity across the public sector to those who need it most, but it will fundamentally transform how government personnel work and operate across the state,” he added.

Linton Burling, General Manager of Vault Cloud said that the partnership will enable full mobility for participating government agencies in the state of New South Wales.

“This new infrastructure is designed and tested to support these emergency service workers and government agencies to do their job wherever it may be, in their quest to help keep Australians safe,” he said.

“We are dedicated to continually enhancing our cloud solutions in response to a rapidly evolving and sophisticated IT landscape,” Mr. Burling added.

BetaShares will offer Australia’s first cloud computing ETF

BetaShares, one of the main ETF providers in Australia is now offering ETFs of cloud computing companies.

An ETF, or an exchange traded fund, is a basket of securities — bonds, commodities, stocks — that can be bought and sold in the stock market. If you invest in an ETF, you are spreading your money in a range of different stocks, thereby diversifying your investment portfolio.

Named BetaShares Cloud Computing ETF, the new ETF is now trading with the ticker code CLDD on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX). As of now, major cloud-based companies including Zoom, Shopify, and Dropbox will be on the ETF.

“Cloud computing has been one of the strongest-growing segments of the technology sector, and given much of the world’s digital data and software applications are still maintained outside the cloud, continued strong growth has been forecast,” wrote BetaShares on its official website.

The company also states that by investing in a cloud ETF, investors will be able to obtain diverse and cost-effective exposure to the cloud computing industry in Australia, one that is still underrepresented in the ASX.

The ETF requires no minimum investment, and clients can buy and sell units just like any other share on the ASX. Globally, ETFs tracking the SaaS sector have outperformed the broader market in 2020. The Global X Cloud Computing ETF has climbed 63.4 per cent in 2020 and has gained 5.7 per cent since the start of 2021 (as of 17 February’s close), according to data from CMC Markets.

Malaysia and Huawei are building Southeast Asia’s first 5G cybersecurity lab

Malaysia is working with Chinese tech giant Huawei to build Southeast Asia’s first 5G cybersecurity test lab.

CyberSecurity Malaysia, an agency under the country’s Ministry of Communications and Multimedia, announced the collaboration with Huawei and local telco Celcom Axiata Berhad.

Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, Minister of Communications and Multimedia, said that the test lab will be a comprehensive test bed for 5G and Internet of Things (IoT) security, and offer cybersecurity services for mobile applications and hardware evaluation.

Dato Dr. Amirudin Abdul Wahab, CEO of CyberSecurity Malaysia, said that the collaboration between his organisation and Huawei aims to deepen the ties between both parties.

“CyberSecurity Malaysia and Huawei are developing a strategic collaboration framework in cybersecurity governance, cybersecurity talent development and on establishing cybersecurity standards and certification in Malaysia to position itself as the first regional cybersecurity center of excellence,” he continued.

Malaysia’s willingness to work with Huawei is in line with the government’s recent announcement of MyDigital, a new digital economy blueprint that aims to transform the nation into a digitally advanced, high-income nation by 2025.

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Adani sets up Joint Venture with EdgeConneX

Adani Enterprises has set up a 50:50 Joint Venture (JV) with EdgeConneX, a leading global Data Centre operator.

Adani Enterprises is the flagship company of the Adani Group and EdgeConneX operates 50 facilities in 30 markets around the world. The JV will develop and operate Data Centres throughout India, leveraging the two partners complementary expertise and capabilities.

The move is expected to address the rapidly growing need for high- quality and reliable IT infrastructure as companies increasingly adopt digital. In line with this, both organisations are committed to investing significant capital into the joint venture over the next decade to build out India’s leading green Data Centre platform, they said.

Further, this pan-Indian platform of hyperscale and hyperlocal Data Centres will largely be powered by renewable energy.

In addition to operating full scale Data Centres, AdaniConneX will also develop a portfolio of Edge Data Centres strategically located throughout India that will support the need for more proximate capacity. These Edge sites are designed and planned to easily scale with demand and become full scale Data Centre campuses.

“In Adani, we have the ideal partner in India,” said Randy Brouckman, CEO of EdgeConneX. “They possess the necessary capabilities and unique expertise in India required to build out critical digital infrastructure that can best support our customers across the entire country. We look forward to investing in the digital economy of India and meeting our customers’ needs throughout the region in collaboration with Adani.”

The partnership will leverage Adani’s expertise in full-stack energy management, renewable power and real estate development, as well as its experience in building and managing large infrastructure projects throughout India.

“One of the best manifestations of our Prime Minister’s Digital India vision is the speed with which the entire Indian population has come online and the subsequent continued exponential growth in data consumption,” said Gautam Adani, Chairman of the Adani Group. “India currently has one of world’s largest data subscriber population and to address the need for a reliable infrastructure to support Cloud, Content, Network, IoT, 5G, AI and enterprise requirements, Data Centres are a fundamental infrastructure need of a nation. The Adani Group brings to the table a unique combination of green power, real estate expertise, access to undersea cable landing stations, and several nodes across the country that will serve as edge locations. In addition to EdgeConneX’s domain expertise and cutting-edge technology in the Data Centre business, we have been very impressed with the agility they bring to the joint venture.”

The AdaniConneX JV will focus on building a network of hyperscale data centers in India, starting with the Chennai, Navi Mumbai, Noida, Vizag and Hyderabad markets. Development and construction at these sites have already begun, the company said.

Infoxchange Group to build a new hub for digital transformation

The Infoxchange Group, a not-for-profit social enterprise, is developing a new Digital Transformation Hub to help Australian not-for-profits build digital capability and resilience for a post-COVID-19 world.

In response to COVID-related technology challenge, the Infoxchange Group is leading a cross-sector partnership to assist organisations on their digital transformation journey.

The Hub will combine capacity building programs, access to technology solutions, web-based resources and tailored advice to help organisations have an even greater impact.

Infoxchange Group’s Digital Technology in the Not-for-Profit Sector 2020 report illustrates that nearly two-thirds of not-for-profit organisations are less than satisfied with the way they use technology. Only 30 percent had the technology in place to easily adapt to staff working from home during COVID-19.

“COVID-19 caused enormous disruption to the way we work. It emphasised how important it is for not-for-profits to have efficient, reliable technology in place to keep supporting communities and making the biggest impact possible,” says Infoxchange CEO David Spriggs.

“The Digital Transformation Hub will address these challenges in a one-stop-shop that will empower not-for-profits to deliver services more effectively, improve staff productivity, and better serve communities in need.”

Top technology challenges identified by not-for-profits that are set to be addressed in the Digital Transformation Hub include access to affordable and fit for-for-purpose technology solutions; lack of skilled technical resources to advise on digital technology; resources and funding to assist with the implementation of digital transformation initiatives; staff and volunteer digital skills and capability.

The Community Council of Australia (CCA) and the Charities Crisis Cabinet have recognised the urgency to build digital capacity in the sector and the need for the Digital Transformation Hub, particularly for smaller less well-resourced organisations.

“As COVID-19 has so clearly highlighted, digital capacity is the key to significantly improving the productivity and effectiveness of charities.  It is the communities we serve that miss out if we do not address the digital divide between charities,” says David Crosbie, CEO of Community Council of Australia.

Cerebral Palsy Support Network recently underwent a digital transformation journey and CEO Scott Sheppard says he understands the challenges not-for-profits face.

“Moving to the Cloud has transformed our ability to work remotely and share information securely, allowing us to communicate to and provide better support for individuals and families living with cerebral palsy,’’ Scott says.

“The new Digital Transformation Hub will empower and assist not-for-profits across Australia to undertake their own digital journey and provide even better support for their clients.’’

Digitalization has emerged as the priority for many non-profits. What follows from the transformation is the need to ramp up the digital fortress as well, as data breaches targeting charities rose recently.

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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.

Building more energy-aware businesses in Asia

Asia’s appetite for digitalisation is fast outpacing other regions across the globe, as it becomes a testbed for new technologies.

From digital banks to AI-powered super apps, there is a rising demand for energy needed to power the growing number of data centres making this digitalisation push happen. Globally, the ICT industry is expected to consume 20 per cent of the world’s energy by 2025 and account for 14 per cent of total emissions by 2040.

Yet, the solution is not merely to provide more power; a number of other factors are further complicating the management of power for businesses in Asia.

 

Governments – regardless of whether they belong to developed or developing ones, are starting to recognise the need to pivot towards renewables. They are rolling out large-scale wind and solar projects across the region, resulting in cleaner but more fluctuations in energy production.

Driving this awareness is the growing climate crisis which looms overhead, with natural hazards such as wildfires and floods increasing in frequency and posing a greater threat to the stable production and delivery of power.

 

In order to better prepare themselves to face these power management challenges, more businesses will likely explore strategic investments in technologies that not only reduce the impact of downtime but also bring down energy consumption and achieve their sustainability targets.

The current state of this preparedness varies across countries. Developed markets such as Australia and Taiwan are leading the conversation around energy transition, with growing government support and regulation to encourage technology adoption to support the transition toward a lower-carbon energy future.

While their developing market counterparts are taking the right steps and catching up quickly with ambitious renewable energy projects, many still face infrastructure challenges that stand in the way of widespread adoption and transformation. In many such countries, the ability to deploy emerging technologies such as energy storage and intelligent power management software still has some way to go.

 

Regardless of a country’s readiness for energy transition, gaps in understanding still exist across the public and private sectors even though the solutions to tackle these challenges are available today. Much more sector education needs to be done to help various stakeholder groups from end-users to regulators understand the capabilities and limitations, commercial aspects as businesses chart their transformation journey.

Technologies such as Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS), Lithium-ion batteries and smart grids that guide the efficient management of power, will shift from “good to have”, to “must-have”, as climate change moves further up the boardroom agenda over the next couple of years.

In a post-covid business landscape, connected customers are increasingly expecting always-on accessibility, alongside constant innovation, and stakeholder accountability. To achieve this, businesses will need to carefully align their power management strategy with their digitalisation priorities and sustainability objectives.

This integrated planning approach then needs to be combined with government engagement to establish and refine technology adoption best practices and standards.

Energy transition is a collaborative process and once the right strategy and support is in place, more businesses in Asia be able to build a resilient power infrastructure that is ready to take on a more sustainable digital future.

 

Join EATON at the Data Center webinar to learn how the EnergyAware technology can be utilized to lower demand and peak time charges, as well as contribute to clean energy goals.

NTT Docomo forms 5G consortium in Thailand

Japanese mobile phone operator NTT Docomo is joining forces with twelve other leading tech firms to establish a 5G consortium in Thailand.

Members of the consortium will leverage NTT Docomo’s Open Radio Access Network (O-RAN) to provide users with high-speed 5G services, such as Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB), Ultra Reliable Low Latency Communications (URLLC), and Massive Machine Type Communications (mMTC).

Members of this consortium include Japanese heavyweight companies Fujitsu, NEC Corporation, NTT’s subsidiaries NTT Communications, NTT Data Institute of Management Consulting, and Thailand-based IT company Loxley.

The group’s target client base will be manufacturing and construction companies based in Thailand.

The consortium plans to launch commercially in 2022 after demonstration tests succeed in Thailand in the second half 2021. There are also plans to branch out of Thailand and expand its services into other markets in the Asia Pacific region where digital transformation efforts are needed.

Pre IPO, Malaysia’s Bank Islam accelerates digital transformation

Bank Islam, which is set to become the first publicly listed Islamic Bank in Malaysia, before its IPO, has decided to accelerate its digital transformation efforts with local telco, TM One.

Both organisations have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which will see TM One deploy digital solutions in cloud, big data analytics, cybersecurity, and data centers to optimise the bank’s operations.

Muazzam Mohamed, CEO of Bank Islam, said that the partnership with TM One will improve the bank’s functions and services to its customers, which are important parts of the business especially ahead of its listing.

“These solutions will intensify BIMB’s information technology (IT) infrastructure and centre for digital experience (CDX) digital banking products, by allowing new buying experience, away from the traditional banking approach,” he added.

On being selected as Bank Islam’s preferred digital partner, Ahmad Taufek, Executive Vice President and CEO of TM One, said that the company is honoured to be given the opportunity to extend its digital expertise to Bank Islam. “We are fully aware that digital transformation, data security and protection are the top priorities, especially for the banking sector,”

“This befits our role as part of TM Group, as the enabler of ‘Digital Malaysia’,” he continued. With a rapid increase in tech adoption post-COVID, countries such as Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), the country is looking to establish itself as a digital hub in the region.

KT partners with South Korea’s Land & Housing Corporation to build data centers overseas

KT Corporation (KT), South Korea’s largest telecommunications company, has announced a partnership with the country’s Land and Housing Corporation (LH) to build internet data centers overseas.

In a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by both parties, KT will be installing data centers in LH’s overseas industrial facilities and offer digital transformation services to both South Korean and foreign companies.

On the other hand, KT’s Head of Global Business, Moon Sung-wook, revealed that LH will help companies in overseas industrial complexes innovate by using KT’s digital platform capabilities.

“We will develop specific digital transformation strategies according to each market, contributing to the vitalisation of industrial complexes overseas,” he added.

South Korea sets its eyes on data centers

South Korea is the latest up-and-coming player in the data center industry, with homegrown tech giants forming partnerships with both the South Korean government and foreign tech firms to grab a bigger share of not only the data center market, but also the global chipmaking market, which is integral to powering data centers.

Seoul, the capital city of the East Asian Tiger economy was also recently named as a ‘Market to Watch’ for having a 300 megawatt (MW) data center capacity.

With the world’s fastest Internet speeds, significant government investment into ICT infrastructure, and a large talent pool, South Korea is quickly gaining recognition as one of the best places in Asia to build data centers.

LH’s Head of Global Business, Lee Yong-sam, said that he hopes the collaboration will create a synergy in developing new cities and industrial complexes.

“We plan on expanding cooperation with related firms abroad to help Korean companies’ entry into foreign markets,” he continued.

KT currently owns and operates 13 data centers in South Korea, including Seoul’s largest hyperscale data center in Yongsan which opened in November 2020.

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Singapore 2021 Budget: $75.3 million to support digital transformation

The Singaporean government will be injecting $75.3 million (SGD$1 billion) into the country’s tech scene to support digital transformation initiatives from enterprises in the country.

This comes as part of the country’s 2021 Annual Budget, where the government has introduced a slew of new policies to remain competitive in a post-COVID-19 economy.

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat announced the launch of the Emerging Technology Programme, where the government will co-fund the costs of next-generation technology trial and adoption by enterprises. This includes 5G, AI, and trust technologies.

Next, a new Digital Leaders Programme will be in place to equip digital leaders with the necessary resources and talent to digitally transform their businesses. One such digitalisation effort is the introduction of an initiative called Chief-Technology-Officer-as-a-Service (CTOaaS), where IT professionals will act as consultants and provide digital services and solutions to businesses.

“In the coming years,  a critical part of business transformation will be in job redesign,” said Mr. Heng.

“More mature enterprises, from micro and small, to medium and large enterprises, should also invest in new and emerging technologies to sharpen their competitiveness.” he added.

These measures are in line with steps taken by developed countries to give a boost to their economies. For example, the US has already passed a first round of stimulus and is going for a second round now. According to reports, United States President Joe Biden wants Congress to pass his $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill in the coming weeks in order to get $1,400 stimulus cheques to Americans and bolster unemployment payments.

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IBM to go carbon neutral by 2030

After the landmark EU Green Data Center Deal last week, IBM is the next tech giant to make a carbon neutrality pledge.

The veteran tech company announced its plans to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions 2030 to combat climate change.

CEO Arvind Krishna said that he is “proud” that IBM is leading the way to significantly reduce carbon emissions, and that this decision will put the company “years ahead” of the targets set out in the Paris Agreement.

IBM has laid out three short and long-term goals to achieve its ambition.

First, the company aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 65 percent by 2025. This figure will be measured against the base year 2010. Next, it will set out to make 75 percent of its electricity consumption renewable by 2025, and 90% by 2030.

Last but not least, IBM also plans to utilise “feasible technologies”, such as carbon capture, to remove emissions in an amount which equals or exceeds the level of IBM’s residual emissions.

What is the EU Green Data Center Deal?

Introduced in late January, the EU’s Green Data Center Deal saw over 40 tech organisations, including Amazon and Google, come together to pledge to go carbon neutral by 2030. This deal was part of the EU’s 2019 Green Deal which aims to make Europe the world’s first climate neutral region by 2050.

IBM’s latest pledge will be carried out in more than 175 countries where it operates, and this may very well include its offices and facilities in Europe as well as China, where President Xi Jinping has also pledged to slash carbon emissions by at least half by 2030.

This also means that if all goes according to plan, IBM will achieve carbon neutrality ten years ahead of its rival Amazon.

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Cybersecurity spending for critical infrastructure to pass $105 billion by 2021: ABI Research

Global spending on critical cybersecurity infrastructure is set to surpass $105 billion in 2021, according to a latest report by tech market advisory firm ABI Research.

The report found that COVID-19 has had little impact on security spending, instead it has led to increased demand for secure connectivity due to the surge in remote work. Asia Pacific is home to some of the world’s fastest growing economies, and the region is also leading the world in digital innovation and transformation.

The primary challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic has been for critical infrastructure to ensure that systems and services keep running smoothly, despite an increasingly remote workforce. As such, greater emphasis has been placed on ensuring that infrastructure operations can be securely monitored and managed remotely by authorised personnel.

“There is no denying that secure connectivity has become a key focus, not least with the revelations late last year of the SolarWinds Orion hack, which has brought into sharp focus the need for better vetting of services offered by third party contractors and remote update processes,”

“The scale of the intrusion clearly illustrates how vulnerable systems can be when they have weak links, and how easily threat actors can infiltrate and escalate privileges once access has been gained. The implications for national security are significant, and critical infrastructure operators and governments worldwide are now re-evaluating and re-assessing the risks as they relate to remote management,” said Michela Menting, Digital Security Research Director at ABI Research.

 

The brunt of security spending is still first and foremost focused on IT networks, systems, and data security from a defensive perspective.

“This is where the primary threats are focused, and operators are keenly aware of the potential ramifications of a breach there. However, increasing efforts are being placed on offensive security investments to better prepare response mechanisms, as well as securing operational technologies as operators in many sectors go through digital transformation and start evolving toward smart and connected IoT infrastructures,” Menting explained.

Progress is nonetheless slow, as many sectors are bound by regulations which can make it difficult to change quickly. In addition, new security processes require time for testing and validation before being greenlit for use, ensuring they don’t compromise the integrity or proper functioning of existing processes.

The report also found that spending is heavy in industries such as defence, financial services, and ICT. This is because governments and critical infrastructure operators are aware of the potential national security implications of cybersecurity breaches.

Spending on energy, water, and waste management still lags behind in comparison. As governments continue to pursue smart city developments and digital transformation efforts, the underlying risks in sectors will become more apparent and should be addressed more robustly in the near future.

“By and large, security spending in critical infrastructures is wide and varied, and diverges significantly among regions due to policy and regulation but is overall embracing cybersecurity much more holistically as connectivity and digitization continue to play increasing roles in everyday operations,” Menting concluded.

The spending has also been made as a result of increased IT downtime during COVID-19, faced by companies. According to a LogicMonitor survey, almost half of the enterprises in the Asia Pacific region have experienced an increase in IT downtime during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Report: Sydney, Singapore among the world’s biggest data center markets

Sydney and Singapore are among the world’s biggest data center markets.

These findings are according to real estate services company Cushman and Wakefield, which has published its latest report on the global data center market, ranking the world’s best cities for data center facilities in terms of land considerations, ecosystem advantages, and political and regulatory circumstances.

However, the top ten data centre markets are dominated by the US, with Northern Virginia and Chicago ranking first and second in the world respectively. Dallas, Seattle, and New York are other major cities made the list.

Two Asia-Pacific cities made the top ten: Sydney placed third, right in front of Silicon Valley, whereas Singapore came in at fifth place. As the biggest mover in overall rankings, the report attributed Sydney’s leap to third place to “Australia’s ongoing transformation in IT infrastructure”.

Singapore’s position, on the other hand, illustrates the city state’s “strong existing [market], dense fiber, and an array of available services.”

The report also shed light on secondary data center markets where the colocation sector “continues to blossom”, this includes Seoul, which entered the long list for the first time with a 300 MW data center capacity, Jakarta, and Mumbai. Data center markets to watch in APAC include Kuala Lumpur and Chennai.

The report evaluated 1,189 data centers and 48 markets all around the world.

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OpenSignal: Philippines and Thailand see most improvement in 5G experience

The Philippines and Thailand are two Southeast Asian markets that see the biggest improvement in terms of mobile experience with 5G. In terms of 4G/5G download speed, Thailand’s 5G is 13.4 times faster than that of 4G, whereas the Philippines’ is 10.1 times faster.

Mobile analytics company OpenSignal published its latest global 5G experience report, detailing the 5G development of emerging markets.

5G video experience in the Philippines saw a 40 percent improvement, ranking first. Thailand came in second place with a 29 percent improvement, ahead of Hong Kong, Taiwan, UK and Australia.

Image Credit: OpenSignal

Commenting on the survey, Ian Fogg, lead analyst at OpenSignal, said: ““For 5G to be relevant to mainstream mobile users, the latest mobile technology must offer an excellent and superior mobile network experience. In this analysis, we quantify just how good the 5G experience can be.”

The world’s fastest 5G is in South Korea

Meanwhile, with an average download speed of 354.4 Mbps, South Korea ranks first in the world in 5G speed. It is also the only country in the world with a download speed that exceeds 300 Mbps. This is followed by the UAE, Taiwan, and Saudi Arabia, with 292.2, 272.2, and 264.7 Mbps of download speed respectively.

Image Credit: OpenSignal

Next, in terms of 5G availability and reach, South Korea, Kuwait, and Hong Kong take the top three spots. 29.8 percent of smartphone users in Kuwait spend the highest proportion of time connected to an active 5G signal, and in South Korea and Hong Kong the number is 24.7 percent and 23.4 percent respectively.

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Siemens South Korea signs cybersecurity deal with KPMG

Siemens South Korea has signed a technology research agreement with KPMG’s subsidiary company in the East Asian country, Samjong KPMG.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) will see the strengthening of Samjong KPMG’s cybersecurity infrastructure. Both Siemens and Samjong KPMG will collaborate to exchange expertise and conduct joint research on different areas in cybersecurity. They include information protection, digital convergence, protection technology, and global compliance.

“As the era of the 4th industrial revolution is in full swing, the demand for security technologies for smart factories and production facilities is increasing,” commented Thomas Schmid, Head of Digital Industries at Siemens Korea.

“We look forward to generating a synergy effect by combining Siemens‘ IT-OT convergence knowledge and experience in the process industry and Samjong KPMG’s global consulting capabilities,” he added.

Established in 2013, Samjong KPMG’s cybersecurity team is the richest operation technology (OT) security team in South Korea. The team works with more than 207,000 KPMG professionals in over 153 countries to provide customers with cybersecurity solutions in South Korea.

“Based on the combination of Samjong KPMG‘s global consulting service know-how and Siemens Korea’s technology and experience, we will do our best to promote the successful OT-ICS (industrial control system) security business.” added Dae-Gil Jung, Head of Consulting Services in Samjong KPMG.

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NVIDIA brings GeForce cloud gaming to Australia

Global chipmaking giant NVIDIA has brought its flagship cloud gaming service, GeForce NOW, to Australia.

It has partnered with Perth-based internet service provider (ISP), Pentanet, which will be joining NVIDIA’s GeForce NOW Alliance where partners work together to deliver low latency, high speed gaming experiences. Some well-known members of the Alliance include Japan’s SoftBank, South Korea’s LG UPlus, and Taiwan Mobile.

As part of the alliance, Pentanet will be hosting NVIDIA’s RTX servers that function to power game streaming, the first ISP in Australia to do so. The service will also bring real-time ray tracing to video games, a graphics rendering technique where characters in video games look more realistic and lifelike.

Aside from Australia, the service will also be arriving in Turkey and Saudi Arabia, where telcos Turkcell and Zain KSA are set to join the GeForce NOW Alliance.

Report: Worldwide IT Spending to grow 6.2 percent in 2021

As the world continues to accelerate digital transformation at breakneck speed, worldwide spending on IT infrastructure is expected to grow by 6.2 percent this year.

Market research firm Gartner Inc.’s latest report in its 4Q20 Market Databook revealed that despite the availability of COVID-19 vaccines, the pandemic will continue to spur significant IT spending in 2021 up until 2022.

“With the economy returning to a level of certainty, companies are investing in IT in a manner consistent with their expectations for growth, not their current revenue levels. Digital business, led by projects with a short Time to Value, will get more money and board level attention going into 2021,” revealed John-David Lovelock, Distinguished Research Vice President at Gartner.

Among the top five IT segments researched, enterprise software and IT devices will see the highest growth in 2021 with spendings increased by 8.8 percent and 8 percent respectively. Data center systems came in third, with a 6.2 percent increase in spending.

Overall, the total IT spending for 2021 is projected to reach $3.9 trillion.

High spending in the devices market can be attributed to remote education and remote work from students and employees, which pushed the demand for tablets and laptops. Global IT spending for remote work, therefore, will reach $332.9 billion in 2021, a 4.9 percent increase from 2020.

Mr. Lovelock also added that digital business will remain the dominant technology trend in late 2020 and 2021, with areas such as cloud computing, core business applications, security and customer experience at the forefront.

“Optimisation initiatives, such as hyperautomation, will continue and the focus of these projects will remain on returning cash and eliminating work from processes, not just tasks,” he added.

Bloomberg Innovation Index 2021: South Korea, Singapore lead the world in tech innovation

South Korea has once again shown the world its tech innovation prowess and its preparedness in embracing a post-pandemic digital society.

The East Asian country has topped Bloomberg’s annual Innovation Index for the seventh time, illustrating its overall breakthrough in terms of government tech policy, spending on research and development, manufacturing capability, and concentration of high-tech public companies.

Singapore came in second, up one spot from last year, and Switzerland ranked third.

Bloomberg clarified that much of the data came from before the COVID-19 pandemic, but it is still worth noting that many of the countries that ranked high on the index also handled the pandemic well. They include Germany (4th), Israel (7th), and Australia (19th).

The US fell out of the top ten this year, ranking eleventh.

Bloomberg also reported that the 2021 rankings “reflect a world where the fight against COVID-19 has brought innovation to the fore – from government efforts to contain the pandemic, to the digital infrastructure that’s allowed economies to work through it, and the race to develop vaccines that can end it.”

Myanmar blocks access to Facebook amidst military coup

Myanmar’s state-run internet service provider, MPT, has temporarily blocked access to Facebook.

This comes after the arrest of Myanmar’s long time democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint on February 1 as part of a coup by the country’s military forces.

The Ministry of Communications and Information claimed that the decision to block access to Facebook was for the sake of “stability”, and full access will be restored on February 7.

The Ministry also claimed that the move was made in response to the spread of “fake news” among Facebook users in Myanmar.

Facebook’s statement on Myanmar addressed the severity of the situation.

“We urge authorities to restore connectivity so that people in Myanmar can communicate with their families and friends and access important information,” the statement read.

With over 20 million users, Facebook is one of the most widely used social media platforms in Myanmar.

Mainstream social media platforms, including WhatsApp and Instagram, have also been banned.

Singtel joins forces with Microsoft for 5G edge computing

Singapore’s oldest and largest telecommunications provider Singtel has joined hands with tech titan Microsoft to launch 5G edge computing on Microsoft’s flagship cloud platform Azure.

The collaboration will see Singtel’s multi-access edge compute (MEC) platform be integrated with Microsoft’s Azure Stack capabilities, which means that Singapore’s Microsoft Azure customers will be able to access the MEC to power and scale their enterprise operations.

“Our collaboration places the benefits of 5G and MEC, such as high connection speeds and low latency, in the hands of enterprises, empowering them to use, create, deploy and scale up new 5G solutions,” said Bill Chang, CEO of Group Enterprises at Singtel.

With this, enterprises in Singapore will soon be able to deliver applications with a latency as low as 10 milliseconds. They will also be able to leverage said MEC to process complex applications such as VR, AR, self-driving vehicles, drones and robots.

Yousef Khalidi, Corporate Vice President of Azure for Operators at Microsoft, said that the collaboration marks a new chapter for both companies in unlocking the power of 5G.

“With Singtel’s 5G network, Microsoft’s cloud and edge solutions, and our combined ecosystem of partners, we lower the barriers for enterprises to adopt next generation technologies that drive real business value,” he continued.

China Mobile International opens data center in Frankfurt

China Mobile International (CMI) has opened a new data center facility in Frankfurt, Germany.

CMI’s second data center in Europe, the new Tier-III facility will connect with CMI’s data centers in the UK and Singapore, and its Global Network Center in Hong Kong.

CMI is a subsidiary of Chinese state-owned telecommunications provider China Mobile.

Dr. Li Feng, Chairman and CEO of CMI, said that the company’s decision to place its data center in Frankfurt, the financial hub of the European Union (EU), is informed by their goal to provide secure and reliable high-speed connectivity between Europe and Asia.

“Technology is now an intrinsic part of almost all aspects of our lives, so more data needs to be processed and stored. This in turn means greater demand for cloud and content delivery solutions,” he continued.

“CMI provides professional one-stop-shop services to help carrier and enterprise customers respond to and meet the needs of their users in a new era of digital globalisation,” Dr. Li added.

This new data center has more than 80 Cloud Connect points of presence (POPs), a nine-layer security control system, and supported by a dual power supply from two different power substations. Its cooling system runs on a chilled water storage facility, the company said.

Founded in 2008, China Mobile International currently has a presence in over 37 countries, and is involved in developing and offering next generation technologies including cloud, IT, and Internet of Things (IoT) technology.

Salesforce to launch Vaccine Cloud to better manage COVID-19 vaccinations

US-based cloud computing major Salesforce has announced that it will be launching a Vaccine Cloud to help governments and healthcare institutions better manage COVID-19 vaccinations.

Operating via an end-to-end management platform, governments, healthcare providers, and organisations are able to plan, manage, and track vaccination efforts at scale, the company said.

From recipient registration, to inventory management, to monitoring of post-vaccination results, Vaccine Cloud is able to provide better support to vaccination programmes, it added. When globally, COVID-19 had reached its peak in March last year, Salesforce came up with a COVID-19 Response Package — a solution that can be deployed quickly and at no charge for six months.

This solution granted free access to technology for emergency response teams, call centers and care management teams for health systems affected by coronavirus. It included a Pre-Configured Health Cloud Org- to help manage increased volume of health-related requests via phone and chat with an emergency response contact center solution.

Further, it included the privacy and security of data to meet internal and external compliance requirements like HIPAA in the US. Powered by Salesforce Shield, a personalized, self-service resource center to help inform HCPs, patients, members and communities and help offset the higher call volumes and a learning platform to quickly distribute the latest safety and testing protocols to enable staff and ensure certification through an on-demand, learning platform.

“The biggest challenge the world faces right now is orchestrating the distribution of billions of vaccine doses. Technology can play a critical role,” said Salesforce President and COO, Bret Taylor.

The company revealed that as of now, partners that are on board the Vaccine Cloud include global consulting firms Accenture, Deloitte, and KPMG.

The race to vaccinate the world

COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna have been administered for emergency use in the US, having efficacy rates of 95 per cent and 94.1 per cent respectively when it comes to preventing the illness. At the time of writing, the Joe Biden administration has announced the purchase of 200 million more doses to vaccinate the American population.

In Southeast Asia, Singapore became the first country to start its vaccination program, administering Pfizer and BioNTech to frontline healthcare workers at the end of December last year.

You can now attend Amazon’s cloud computing classes on Twitch

Yes, you’ve read that right. Amazon Web Services (AWS) is offering cloud computing classes on popular streaming platform Twitch – for free.

The cloud computing giant recently launched an eight-part weekly series called AWS Dev Hour: Building Modern Applications, where developers from AWS go live on Twitch and teach viewers how to build an end-to-end serverless application on the AWS Cloud.

This initiative is part of AWS’ grand plan to train 29 million cloud-ready professionals by 2025.

“Providing free access to technical skills training has been an important priority for us for many years. We know access to skills training can help unlock opportunities and have a positive, long-term impact for our employees, customers, and communities,” said Scott Barneson, Director of Learning Products at AWS Training and Certification.

Barneson also revealed that the series will delve into how to build cloud-native applications on AWS Dev services, architecture, serverless, microservices, and DevOps.

The live Twitch classes will be interactive and hands-on. Viewers will have the opportunity to submit questions about cloud computing and share their progress with everyone on the broadcast.

If you are interested, simply hop on to AWS’ Twitch channel now.

How Data Centers in China Are Heading Towards Carbon Neutrality

After Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged that by 2030 China would cut emissions per unit of GDP by “at least” 65 percent compared with 2005 levels at the virtual Climate Ambition Summit, China has sped up its decarbonization and development of a low carbon economy.

The announcement was met with a mixed response with some environmental observers questioning whether China can go this far.

“The most challenging part of the shift is not the investment or magnitude of renewable capacity additions but the social transition that comes with it,” said Wood Mackenzie analyst Prakash Sharma.

In China, representing the information backbone of an increasingly digitalized society, data centers are still a net producer of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions and major electrical power users. Research from Greenpeace and North China Electric Power University estimated that China’s data center consumed 161 billion kilowatt hours of electricity in 2018, equivalent to 2 percent of the country’s total usage. The power consumption is projected to grow 66 percent by 2023, to 267 billion kilowatt hours, which means 163 million tonnes of carbon emissions are produced assuming China’s energy mix remains the same.

Tier-I cities in China such as Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen have applied strict PUE rules as a method to push the industry towards greener operations. While Beijing has implemented a complete citywide ban on new data center construction, Shanghai only allows new data center with a PUE of 1.3 or below and refitted ones with a PUE of 1.4 or below. Meanwhile in Shenzhen, data centers with a PUE of over 1.4 receive no subsidies and those with less than 1.25 could obtain a subsidy of over 40 percent. Besides, central government policy on more use of renewable energy remains one of guidance and encouragement. China manufactures around 70 percent of solar energy equipment such as PV panels and modules.

Renewed Renewable Energy push

Different from traditional infrastructure like roads and railways, construction of “new infrastructure” in China is boosted to remain the primary driver of energy consumption in the foreseeable future. With data centers rapidly expanding and depleting environmental resources, the energy and climate impacts are being one of top considerations in China, as well as the world in general.

Intensive energy use can be costly both in terms of the data center’s operating budget (often representing more than 50 percent of the budget) and the impact on the environment.

Interest in renewable energy in China has been growing for several years, and leading Chinese companies have already undertaken the exploration of renewable energy use.

Research from Greenpeace and North China Electric Power University also states that China is outpacing the US in renewable energy, and has made huge progress in developing solar and wind projects.

However, nearly three quarters of (data centers’) power comes from coal, said Ye Ruiqi, a climate expert from Greenpeace. “To prevent this, China’s data centers need to decouple their electricity consumption from their carbon footprint by relying more on wind and solar energy. They can build their own renewable energy capacity, buy clean energy on the market or purchase green certificates to offset their emissions,” she added.

A Turning Point

In the backdrop of all this, China’s proposal to achieve net zero emissions by 2060 aims can be seen as a turning point. To fulfill the goal of carbon reduction and pollution prevention, China’s tech giants, state-owned energy companies and other important players are encouraged to make great efforts, from advancing technologies that produce less greenhouse gases or air pollution, accelerating energy transition and taking more social responsibilities.

In December 2020, China Three Gorges Corporation, a Chinese state-owned power company operating the China Yangtze Three Gorges Project (one of the biggest hydropower-complex projects in the world), announced plans to construct its Dongyue Temple Data Center. It is planned to build about 28,000 cabinets and invest 5.5 billion CNY (around $855.8 million). In Stage I, about 4,400 cabinets will be put into use by October, 2021, with an investment of 830 million CNY (around $ 129 million).

Responding to Chinese government’s pledge of “carbon neutrality” and the scheme of “New Infrastructure”, the group will further utilize the advantages of clean energy, stock land and real estate to promote the big data industry. Although it has been involved in the big data industry since 2017, it is the first time that the group announces its ambition to expand business with such massive spending on the ICT market.

Chinese private enterprises seem to have got off the block. On January 12, Chinese internet giant Tencent released its plan of achieving zero carbon emissions with the help of technology. With this announcement, Tencent became one of the first Internet companies to take action in achieving carbon neutrality.

“As China announces its carbon peak and carbon neutrality targets, Tencent will also accelerate its carbon neutrality plan. At the same time, we will also increase the exploration of the potential of cutting-edge technologies represented by artificial intelligence in coping with the major challenges of the earth, and make great strides to promote the application of technology in industrial energy conservation and emission reduction,” said Tencent’s founder Ma Huateng (also known as Pony Ma).

Chindata Group, a leading carrier-neutral hyperscale data center solution provider in China, also releases its roadmap to be carbon neutral for all its next-generation hyperscale data centers in China with its 100% renewable energy solution by 2030.

As China becomes a more developed economy, accelerated efforts of decarbonization to accelerate technology innovation and industrial upgrading are made. China’s transition to a low carbon economy is not only possible but can be a driver of high-quality growth while bolstering the development of digital transformation.

How Far Behind

Since 2018, institutions globally are moving towards achieving carbon neutrality, even as concerns have been raised at the way in which this is computed.

Although more Governments and businesses are committing to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, the world is still falling far short of that goal, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in November in his latest push for a cleaner, greener future. Guterres reported that so far, the European Union, Japan and the Republic of Korea, along with more than 110 other countries, have made the pledge, while China is set to join them by 2060. “The window of opportunity is closing,” he warned.

In January, following the inauguration, President Biden signed an executive order at the White House, to reverse the previous administration’s withdrawal from the 2015 accord, which returned the United States to the worldwide fight to slow global warming and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Alongside China, the United States is the world’s most carbon emitter.

Financial institutions have been accused of funding “dirty capital” into traditional power projects. All this is changing.

Goldman Sachs has ruled out direct finance for new or expanding thermal coal mines and coal-fired power plant projects worldwide, as well as direct finance for new Arctic oil exploration and production.

The policy makes a clear mention of protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge,

Goldman Sachs said in a statement. Further, the bank has also committed to a phase out of financing for significant thermal coal mining companies that do not have a diversification strategy. Goldman Sachs’s new policy tightens the screw on thermal coal by including underwriting, and explicitly committing to phase-out, not just reduction.

This is a crucial step forward, as other US bank coal finance restrictions have geographic loopholes, industry watchers said.

While other major banks have committed to reducing credit exposure to coal mining, their approach restricts only lending, ignoring the large amounts of capital the banks facilitate for the coal industry from the underwriting of issuances of stocks and bonds. Activists have been vehement in their criticism of global financial institutions, which they say are turning a blind eye and undermining the Paris Agreement when it comes to phasing out coal-based energy production. Other financial institutions have followed suit too.

Jason Opeña Disterhoft, Climate and Energy Senior Campaigner at Rainforest Action Network (RAN), said that Goldman Sachs’s updated policy shows that U.S. banks can draw red lines on oil and gas, and now other major U.S. banks, especially JPMorgan Chase – the world’s worst banker of fossil fuels by a wide margin – must improve on what Goldman has done.

“The writing was already on the wall for coal financing. Goldman Sachs’s new policy puts that writing in flashing neon,” he added.

According to research by non-profit organisations like Urgewald, BankTrack and 30 others, banks and other financial institutions from January 2017 to September 2019, they have provided lending finance and underwriting services to 258 coal plant developers in the world. According to Heffa Schuecking, director of Urgewald, this has amounted to channeling $745 billion.

Countries like India have also committed to reduce energy emissions intensity by 30 – 35 percent from 2005 levels by 2030 and increase the share of non-fossil fuel energy to 40 percent of India’s energy mix by 2030.

Internationally, there is broad recognition of the need to reduce power use and emissions. This motivates greater efforts in developing future policies, and changes in regulation, taxation and electricity market. In the changing global landscape, data center, an increasingly critical part of the infrastructure for the digitalised society, have outsized importance in climate change mitigation efforts. This is the time when this industry needs to take responsibility and look at sustainability beyond lip service.

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

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.