ESR Cayman buys property in Hong Kong for data centre development

APAC-focused logistics asset firm ESR Cayman has made its first real estate purchase in the island of Hong Kong for the development of a data centre.

ESR has acquired land in Kwai Chung, situated in the New Territories of Hong Kong, which is the island city’s major data centre cluster.

Further, ESR Cayman plans to work with its capital partners and operators to convert the land into a 40 megawatt (MW) data centre costing approximately $675 million.

Co-founders and co-CEOs Jeffrey Shen and Stuart Gibson said in a press release that the move forms a part of the company’s data centre expansion efforts.

“Hong Kong is an important data centre market in the APAC region with its low electricity costs, limited climate risks and established network capability,” Shen and Gibson pointed out.

“Entering the Hong Kong market is a key expansion strategy as we continue to build our integrated digital and logistics supply chain infrastructure platform to help fuel the new economy in APAC,” they added.

ESR’s latest purchase Hong Kong comes swiftly after the company’s acquisition of a data centre campus in Osaka, Japan in April, which it will further develop for $2.15 billion.

Josh Daitch, ESR Group Head of Fund Management & Capital, and Rui Hua Chang, ESR Group Managing Director, Capital Markets & Investor Relations, described the company’s foray into the Hong Kong data centre market as a “rare brownfield opportunity.”

“Set in one of the ideal locations for data centres and coupled with its meaningful scale, we are confident that the converted asset will be well positioned to provide customers with scalable and flexible solutions while creating long-term values for investors,” they continued.

With both developments combined, ESR Cayman expects to potentially generate up to 250 MW of data centre power across the Asia-Pacific region.

SEA DC Market to hit revenues of over USD 11 Billion by 2026: Arizton

The Southeast Asia data centre market is expected to grow at a CAGR of approximately 8 per cent during the period 2020−2026, reports Arizton, a market intelligence firm.

The report finds that the market witnessed investments from new entrants such as Stratus DC Management (Singapore and the Philippines), Regal Orion (Malaysia), and Kepstar Data Centre Management (Cambodia) which are developing hyperscale data centre facilities that will be operational in 2021 and 2022.

Currently, the region houses 12 IT infrastructure providers, 17 support infrastructure providers, 15 data centre contractors, and 16 data centre investors across countries.

The most established DC market in Southeast Asia, Singapore, has little land available for greenfield data centres, leading to more brownfield construction, and data centers shifting to other countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand, according to the report.

The Uptime Institute finds that there are around 99 Tier certified data center facilities in Southeast Asia, of which there more than 85 are Tier III and nine are Tier IV certified facilities.

Arizton also reported that most data centres in Southeast Asia adopt DRUPS systems to overcome power outages, and the demand is quite high in the market which will add significant revenue growth to DRUPS vendors operating in this region.

Government entities are strengthening their internet infrastructure in the region with around 10 active submarine connectivity projects underway in Southeast Asia currently.

The server market expects to witness significant growth in the next few years due to increased investments from large cloud service providers in the region. The adoption of converged and hyper-converged infrastructure solutions is projected to increase the demand for servers with multicore processors.

The data centre generator market is likely to grow due to the construction of large and mega facilities across the Southeast Asia region. As many governments implement environmental regulations, the report expects growth from the adoption of efficient power systems such as gas generators.

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Taiwan is spending $100 billion to solve global chip shortage

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), one of the world’s largest chipmakers, has unveiled plans to invest $100 billion to increase the output of semiconductor chips to keep up with rising global demand.

This announcement comes after US semiconductor leader Intel’s decision last week to spend $20 billion to boost semiconductor production both domestically and in Europe.

TSMC CEO, Wei Che-Chia, said that the company will start building new fabrication plants and expanding existing ones for both leading-edge and specialty technologies.

“We have started hiring thousands of new employees, acquired land and equipment, and started construction of new facilities at multiple sites globally,” he added.

Semiconductor chips are integral to the global cloud and data centre industry. As demand for cloud services continues to grow exponentially and more data centres are being built all around the world, semiconductor chips are seeing such a sharp rise in demand that the global market is heading towards a shortage.

Said shortage also appears to be spreading to the electronic hardware industry, including smartphones, tablets, and laptops.

In January, TSMC had set aside a budget of $25 billion to $28 billion for chipmaking. The company’s quadruple increase in investment shows the urgency of chip shortage in the semiconductor industry.

On top of technological expansion, CEO Wei also promised clients that TSMC would suspend wafer price discounts throughout the whole of 2022.

Taiwan is currently the world’s leading semiconductor manufacturer, alongside South Korea’s SK Hynix. In March, Japan had to source semiconductor chips from Taiwan after a fire devastated a production plant in northeast Japan.

Experts gather to discuss China & SEA data centre

On March 5th, professionals from more than 200 companies in the cloud and data centre industry in China and Southeast Asia participated in an online conference organized by W.Media. 

Titled “Two-Way Interpretation: The Opportunities and Challenges of the Development of the Data Center Industry in China and Southeast Asia”, the conference provided a platform for leaders to discuss outlooks of China and Southeast Asia data centre. 

Featured industry forerunners include LEED Data Centers Advisory (China) Committee, China Digital Intelligence Information Technology Research Institute, and KPMG, discussed the development, policies, opportunities and challenges of the data centre industry. 

The fast-growing China market

China’s data centres have grown rapidly in recent years, with more room for growth in the future. In 2019, the scale of racks in use reached 12,600 megawatts, and the planned racks under construction reached 14,640 megawatts, with 3.2 million server shipments, said Danny Cheng, LEED Data Centers Advisory (China) Committee; Banyano Data Center Consulting Inc.

Widespread digital transformation is also driving enterprises to the clouds. Aided by the pandemic, China’s cloud spending in the third quarter of 2020 increased by 65%, reaching US$5 billion, Mr Cheng added. 

According to Li Wei, general manager of the Corporate Development and Investment Department of Sinnet, other growth drivers of China’s data centre industry include loose monetary policies and restrictions on investing in traditional real estates. As such, a substantial amount of funding will be channelled into the data centre industry, which has some real estate attribute but does not warrant state restrictions. 

Greener and more modular

Mr Cheng cited a survey in 2019, which shows that China’s data centre power consumption in 2018 reached 60 billion kWh, with a high PUE index. 

Although the electricity consumption of data centres only accounts for about 1% of the national electricity consumption, the geographical concentration of data centres amplifies the impact on local electricity consumption. 

This is also the reason why Beijing restricts data centres. In 2018, Beijing’s 186,000 cabinets consumed 9.8 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity, which is 9% of the city’s electricity consumption and has exceeded 10% in the past two years. 

To meet the local government’s requirements for PUE indicators and energy-saving, liquid-cooled servers, especially immersion and cold-plate liquid cooling, are also being scaled up, Mr Chang added. 

Last year, the Chinese government pledged to peak carbon emissions in 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality in 2060, shifting the industry’s focus from PUE indicators to carbon neutrality. 

The country first introduced a quota system and green certificate trading mechanism in 2016 and released renewable energy power consumption implementation plans in multiple cities in July 2020 to substantially improve the implementation of the quota system. 

The growing maturity of energy policy means that the industry has to make adjustments to respond to policy changes, and particularly by shifting the focus to carbon neutrality, Mr Cheng opined. 

He also expected to see more prefabricated modular data centres, which facilitate flexible and fast delivery, as tech giants Tencent and Huawei’s modular buildings show. 

The catch: talent crunch

Operation and maintenance talents often take time to cultivate. China’s new infrastructure is growing too rapidly resulting in a shortage of operation and maintenance talents to maintain the growth. 

Restricted by various conditions, China’s data centre foray into automation is less than ideal. The existing robots are unable to substitute humans in most cases, which is not likely to be improved significantly soon. 

However, “connected worker” may be the solution, Mr Cheng said. This concept aims to equip operation and maintenance staff with smarter equipment and more on-site operation and maintenance support to improve efficiency and reduce errors. 

More conducive national and regional policies

In recent years, China’s policies focus on improving the data centre market access, optimising the location, long-term planning, design according to requirements, and construction according to standards, ultimately forming a comprehensive pattern of advanced technology and coordinated development.

China’s new negative lists enumerate the industries where foreign investment will either be prohibited or restricted. This demonstrates that the national policies have become friendlier for foreign players, raised by experts such as Zhang Yonghai, MD of PDG China, in the roundtable discussion on the next ten years of China’s data centre industry. 

Generally speaking, the national-level policy is very comprehensive, which has not only promoted the rapid development of data centres in the past ten years but also guided the future development direction, said Mr Zhang. 

Provinces and cities also adapt the national policies to local circumstances. In January 2021, Beijing and Shanghai released policy documents for the overall development of data centres. 

Similarly, Guangdong Province proposed a “dual-core nine-centre” data centre layout, forming two low-latency core areas in Guangzhou and Shenzhen, and nine cluster areas in the province. The average shelf rate of provincial data centres is 65%, and the design average PUE is less than 1.30. 

SEA: four main growth drivers

By 2024, the scale of data centres in the Asia-Pacific region is expected to reach 28 billion U.S. dollars, achieving a compound annual growth rate of 12.2% over five years, and the growth rate far exceeds that of North America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Southeast Asia is expected to reach 3.5 billion U.S. dollars, achieving a compound annual growth rate of 12.9%, research by Cushman & Wakefield shows. 

Among them, Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Sydney are the first echelon, leading the industry growth. Jakarta, Mumbai, Chennai, Beijing, Shanghai and Seoul are close behind. Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and other ASEAN countries have also entered the ranks of emerging markets. 

It is worth noting that the global growth of edge data centres and hyperscale data centres is particularly rapid, and is expected to achieve compound annual growth rates of 21% and 22%, respectively. 

For Darren Yong, KPMG Asia Pacific Head of Client and Market Development and Head of Technology, Media and Telecom, the rapid growth of data centres in Southeast Asia can be attributed to four major driving forces: 

One of the first to bear the brunt is digitization. With the help of the epidemic, business and personal activities have moved online, and more data has been generated from this, driving the growth of data centres. 

The second is data centralization. With the business transformation of various industries such as banking, insurance, medical care, energy, and home furnishing, with a large amount of user data, data centralization has become a trend, and terminal data is increasingly gathered in the hands of the top players in several major data centres. 

Thirdly, Industry 4.0, including smart cities, smart homes, smart campuses and smart production will create demand for more data storage and related services. 

Finally, 5G and the Internet of Things, which will especially promote the growth of edge data centres, and put forward higher demand for large-scale data storage.

In the next three to five years, mobile applications, including e-commerce, e-sports and other entertainment features will feature prominently, said Edward Tay, CEO of Sistema Asia Capital. 

Singapore, Malaysia and other local governments are also launching a large number of supporting facilities to encourage digital transformation of local enterprises, Tay opined. 

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Australia’s NextDC launches ‘first of its kind’ carbon neutrality programme

Australian data centre operator NextDC has announced the launch of a brand new data centre carbon neutrality programme, the ‘first of its kind’ in the country’s data centre market.

Named NEXTneutral, the programme marks the first carbon neutral colocation solution available in the local Australian market.

Under the programme, carbon footprint generated within NextDC’s data centres will be negated through the purchase of a portfolio of ecological projects in Australia, including the restoration of wetlands and rainforests, the protection of pristine Australian habitats such as the Great Barrier Reef, as well as supporting Indigenous culture and traditional sustainable land management practices such as cool fire burning.

The programme is also launched in conjunction with NextDC’s corporate offset partner Qantas, the national airline of Australia. Both have extended their partnership through Qantas Future Planet (QFP), a collaboration between Qantas and carbon offset solutions firm Tasman Environmental Markets.

“[NEXTneutral] is a testament to NEXTDC’s commitment to sustainable engineering and the important role offsets play in mitigating the environmental impact of energy use. NEXTneutral is evidence that big data can have a zero footprint,” commented David Young, Executive Manager of Sustainability & Future Planet at Qantas.

Craig Scroggie, CEO at NextDC, said that this move is in line with the company’s position as the first data centre operator in Australia to be certified as Climate Active by the Federal Government.

“The next step in our journey is to extend our own carbon offset programme to our customers. It’s with great excitement that we now invite everyone in our ecosystem to join NEXTneutral and offset 100% of their carbon footprint,” he added.

Gigaplex, a Mindspace REIT to sublease data center space in Mumbai

Gigaplex Estate Pvt. Ltd, one of the Special Purpose Vehicles (SPV) of Mindspace REIT, has entered into a  sublease agreement with a leading data centre operator.

Gigaplex will sub-lease approximately 0.63 million sq. ft. at Mindspace, Airoli West in Mumbai, the company said in a filing to the stock exchanges.

In December 2019, the Board had amended in a memorandum of understanding with K Raheja Corp Pvt. Ltd. (KRCPL), for proposed transfer of leasehold land admeasuring approximately 16.4 acres to KRCPL at Mindspace Airoli West, Mumbai.

Consequent to the amendment, the area proposed to be transferred to KRCPL under the MoU stands reduced to 5.7acres. Gigaplex has proposed to utilise 7.4 acres of the retained land for the purpose of development of the data center as per the Agreement. The balance land (excluding amenity space), contiguous to the existing development, shall be used for future office development, the filing said.

With increased internet usage, growing demand for data storage and anticipated data localisation norms Mumbai stands to benefit due to its geographical and infrastructural advantage. Government’s focus on “Digital India” and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have further catalysed the process of digitisation.

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New Equinix Metal hardware is now available in five APAC data center hubs

Global data center company Equinix has announced that its new automated bare metal hardware for data centers, Equinix Metal, is now available in 18 global cities including five in APAC.

Singapore, Hong Kong, Seoul, Tokyo, and Sydney now have access to Equinix Metal to create new digital services with a DevOps-friendly system. This allows for seamless deployment across their hybrid cloud infrastructures.

Its integration with Equinix Fabric also means that by using Equinix Metal, businesses in APAC are able to connect to more than 10,000 networks, enterprises, clouds and SaaS platforms available on Platform Equinix via low-latency, private interconnection.

“Our vision at Equinix is to empower digital leaders with a trusted platform that brings together and interconnects the foundational infrastructure that powers their success,” commented Zac Smith, Managing Director at Equinix Metal.

“By expanding Equinix Metal globally, adding key networking capabilities and collaborating with leading hardware and software vendors to offer as a Service solutions, we’re helping customers, partners and the ecosystem at large create their digital advantage faster,” he added.

Jack Hogan, Vice President of Technology Strategy at Pure Storage, commented that: “By partnering with Equinix Metal, we are able to deliver an embedded, joint, global, on-demand Bare Metal as a Service solution that provides a seamless experience that combines best-in-class storage, compute and low-latency connectivity to clouds, enterprises and other ecosystems.”

Equinix Metal was unveiled October last year after the company’s acquisition of bare metal cloud provider, Packet, in March 2020.

China and Russia to build a data center for scientific research in space

China and Russia are joining forces to build a joint data center for deep space exploration.

On behalf of their governments, Russia’s Roscosmos space agency and China’s National Space Administration signed a series of MoUs (memorandum of understanding) that will see both parties come together to establish an International Lunar Research Station to strengthen scientific research on space.

In a joint statement, China and Russia state that the new research station will be a “comprehensive scientific experiment base that can carry out multi-disciplinary and multi-objective scientific research activities.”

Zhang Hanhui, the Chinese Ambassador to Russia, also commented that deep, extended collaboration between both countries for the past 30 years has seen the delivery of fruitful results in many fields in deep space exploration, including earth observation and the production of aerospace electronic components.

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This Australian startup is bringing data centers to regional New South Wales

Australian company Leading Edge Data Centers (LEDC) is filling the connectivity gap in the country’s data center industry with a mass modular data center rollout.

The startup is currently embarking on a plan to establish Tier 3 data centers across regional New South Wales (NSW).

The company is set to launch a modular data center in NSW’s regional Newcastle in mid-March, followed by six more in Tamworth, Dubbo, Albury, Coffs Harbour, Wagga Wagga and Bathurst respectively before December.

This means that businesses in those regions will soon have access to the cloud and its range of services, enabling them to scale their operations more smoothly.

CEO Chris Thorpe says that his company has had the idea of a regional data center rollout for two years.

“We were watching the growth of cloud in the US and Europe, and here, and what was becoming very evident was all the focus in Australia was for that to be built in Sydney, or Melbourne,” Mr. Thorpe explained.

“That’s great, but if you live in regional Australia your access to the cloud is limited. There are issues around choice, connectivity isn’t very strong, and you have latency issues because of distance,” he continued.

Founded in 2018, LEDC aims to bridge the digital divide in Australia. The company received a $20 million funding from domestic investment firm Washington Soul Pattinson in 2020.

More data centers are expected to arrive in the states of Victoria and Queensland in 2022.

ASEAN colocation DC forecast: Hyperscale Cloud and OTT present key growth opportunities

The demand for data storage and managed hosting services is expected to grow exponentially across the ASEAN region, thanks to the growing presence of hyperscale cloud service providers, high penetration of Internet connectivity, and a keen focus on cybersecurity and data privacy, several research agencies reported.

Southeast Asian will be the fastest-growing region for the colocation market, with its market size expanding at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13 per cent from 2019 to 2024, according to Cushman & Wakefield’s research.

This trend is underpinned by the rapid pace of digitalisation and surge in demand for cloud-based services across the region, which prompted big corporates such as Google, Alibaba Group, Amazon Web Services (AWS) to expand their cloud infrastructure footprint to facilitate the expansion.

Another report, “Transformative Mega Trends are Driving the ASEAN Colocation Market, Forecast to 2026”, by ResearchAndMarket.com, corroborated the finding.

In mature data centre markets such as Singapore, which still remains the data centre hub in the ASEAN region, the demand for wholesale colocation from global cloud service providers will drive the revenue growth for data centre services.

The government is looking to increase data centre adoption to promote digital transformation across sectors through partnerships with global and local data centre vendors, as well as offering them tax incentives.

Emerging data centre markets such as Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand are poised to experience exponential growth due to the abundant availability of resources, coupled with favorable government policies on developing data centre infrastructure.

Markets such as Vietnam are witnessing growing data centre penetration, thanks to local service providers, but these countries lack the necessary connectivity and infrastructure capabilities to attract global data centre vendors.

Governments in these emerging economies are, therefore, focusing on improving the readiness of these countries to support hyperscale data centres by enhancing their telecommunications and network infrastructure.

In established data centre markets such as Singapore as well as countries witnessing high data centre growth rates such as Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand, governments have been undertaking several smart city projects as a part of their digital transformation initiatives.

Data centre service providers are, therefore, adopting innovative solutions such as data centre infrastructure management, data centre modernization, and edge or modular data centres to optimize operational workloads and enhance service delivery by limiting latency-related issues.

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How Big Corps & SMEs are shaping Vietnam’s digital economy

Micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) constitute 96 per cent of Vietnam’s business activities.

Meanwhile, big corporations, including multinational enterprises (MNEs), have impacted the ecosystem with their high capacity in technologies, finance, as well as their overall knowledge.

Add to the mix – government – which is still leading the digital transformation, urges businesses to step up the game and push forward the current estimated $14 billion worth digital economy of Vietnam.

First movers are big corporations and MNEs

Geopolitical issues can be added to the digitalisation push. In Vietnam, the European Union–Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) and the trade war between China and the U.S. are bringing new businesses coming to the country, said Tanguy Le Barber, founder of strategic consulting company Roadenn, at 2021 SEA Digital Week.

A positive effect is that when foreign companies come, they invest in local talent instead of using staff from their home countries.

Take South Korean multinational conglomerate Samsung as an example. In 2017, the company launched the Samsung Talent Program, which offered VND 8.5 billion (approximately $ 369,350) in the types of scholarships, specialised courses, and research and career opportunities for Vietnam’s information technology and electronics-telecommunications talent.

The company also has started constructing a new $220 million research and development (R&D) centre in Vietnam since 2020, increasing its research workforce in the country from 2,200 to 3,000 by 2022.

That is because it is an economic model at work, stated Bryan Carroll, CEO of TNEX, a Vietnam-based digital bank. “It’s positive, not just on GDP. This is an opportunity.”

Over the past years, capital has been pouring into the Vietnamese market. In January, foreign direct investment (FDI) capital in Vietnam reached $1.51 billion, representing a rise of 4.1 per cent year-on-year, as per a report of the Foreign Investment Agency (FIA) under the Ministry of Planning and Investment.

“It is driving the push for the digital transformation of the country,” Barber said.

Data source: World Bank

According to the e-Conomy Southeast Asia 2020 report by Google, Temasek and Bain & Company, analysts estimate Vietnam’s digital economy to reach $43 billion by 2025. But for the country to become competitive and be a major player in the region, or even worldwide, the government and local companies should understand the need for radical changes, Barber underlined.

Some prominent local corporations are taking the lead and eager to optimise their activities to regional levels. FPT Group, for example, is working with multiple partners and vendors to find options to reduce energy consumption at data centres, which then minimises negative impacts on the local environment.

“We applied a lot of new technologies to make sure that how we can reduce the PUE [Power Usage Effectiveness] down as much as we can,” said Khoa Doan, executive vice president of FPT Smart Cloud.

The same story goes with Vinfast, the first local car brand in the country, which has deployed a recognised world-leading production plant in Vietnam with automation and robotic processes.

SMEs can play alongside big players

When Internet users in Vietnam account for nearly 70 per cent of the population and spend an average of 6 hours 30 minutes online every day, SMEs in Vietnam are still not ready for digital transformation and the digital economy.

Among all small and micro-enterprises, which account for 96 per cent of firms and 40 per cent of national income (GDP), more than 45 per cent has not engaged well with technology, informed Ralf Matthaes, founder and managing director at Infocus Mekong research.

“SMEs have barriers to join this digital revolution which is happening in Vietnam,” said Carroll.Vietnam digital adoptionIn the case of cloud adoption, insiders found that most business people in Vietnam thought that adopting cloud computing means giving their data to cloud providers. The recent MaturityScape benchmark study of IDC ASEAN in 2018 also noted that 85 per cent of enterprises polled in eleven countries in Asia-Pacific, excluding Japan, are only rated at two out of five in IDC’s cloud maturity model.

“But now they are starting to understand that moving to cloud should be thought from a long-term investment point of view, which is the best solution for smaller business in Vietnam,” said Robert Tran, cybersecurity and technology risk leader at consulting company Ernst & Young Vietnam.

As the situation is changing exponentially due to the acceleration caused by the pandemic, Anthony Lim, regional principal consultant at Fortinet, said that cloud computing services availability could increase the efficiency and innovation capacity of small businesses in Vietnam.

“It will actually help a lot of small businesses get up to speed and play alongside big players,” Lim commented.

Digital Economy in Vietnam: From Government to Private Sector

As businesses are still approaching cloud computing cautiously, experts reach a consensus on the government’s role in the digital transformation stories, not only in Vietnam, but also in previous cases in the U.S., the Middle East, or Singapore.

“I don’t see so far the possibility of the transformation emanating from companies to the government. It has to be the other way around,” said Barber in a discussion at Digital Week.

In Vietnam, the Prime Minister has approved the national digital transformation programme to 2025 and orientation to 2030, which states various objectives, including developing a digital government, boosting the Vietnamese digital economy to account for 20% of GDP, and narrowing the digital gap by universalising fibre-optic Internet services, 5G mobile network, and electronic payment.

But while Singapore and Hong Kong are small city and states, most key digital infrastructure in the region, say data centres, are implemented there. Vietnam is still trailing behind with only 3.5 per cent of the total number of data centres in ASEAN, according to Frost & Sullivan’s “ASEAN and Taiwan Data Center Services Market, Forecast to 2025.”

“The reason is that their regulations [Singapore and Hongkong] are very clear and protect customer and data privacy,” said Tran. “Vietnam technically becoming a powerhouse is not a problem, but regulation could be a problem.”

Last year, in an effort to improve digital safety, the Ministry of Information and Communications of Vietnam provided guidelines on cloud computing for e-government, which Doan commented, could act as a critical reference for businesses in Vietnam in terms of understanding the requirements and standards of technical and information securities.

“How can they [organisations and companies] react and implement this direction from the government?,” said Carroll. “That comes down to the fact that digitalisation is more about people than technology.”

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How Singapore faces a DC talent crunch

When it comes to business, Singapore has emerged as one of the premier destinations and is an economic powerhouse in the world. The nation also houses the only mature data centre (DC) market with many regional and global players in Southeast Asia, research by Cushman & Wakefield shows.

Predicted to grow at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12 per cent from 2019-2024, Singapore can continue to leverage the twin strengths of its mature local market and the emerging regional markets to navigate the next wave of DC development.

However, there is a catch.

Just like many other DC operators in the world, companies in Singapore have been having a hard time hiring high-demand roles such as technicians and analysts of power systems, control specialists of facilities, robotics technologists, amongst other factors.

Singapore’s information communications technology (ICT) sector currently employs about 200,000 people and will require another 60,000 in the next three years, according to Vivian Balakrishnan, the Minister in charge of the Smart Nation Initiative.

Yet, the education system is only producing 2,800 ICT graduates annually, which is 8,400 graduates over three years, leaving a 51,600 shortage. Edward van Leent, Chairman and CEO of UK-based energy consultancy EPI Group, at W.Media’s Digital Week in South East Asia 2021 notes the challenges of hiring suitable talents. “There is a lot of churn in this segment as the work is demanding and people have to work on holidays. People tend to leave jobs after a few years and move into other industries.”

If Singapore wants to improve its profile as the preferred DC host, it has to build up its manpower pool to meet the industry needs.

Skill requirements

The industry is seeing a mix of talent shortage as well as high attrition, which does not augur well. “What I am seeing practically is that you can get people, but to get the right skill sets, it is a problem,” opines van Leent. A specialised mix of skills is required for success in the DC industry.

First, infrastructure skills, such as first-hand mechanical or electrical equipment expertise are required.

It is also extremely important to have basic technology skills, such as programming and skill set with specific technology platforms and tools.

In addition, DC industry needs specialists with problem-solving abilities and the determination to practice them, the ability to think critically, a mission-driven emphasis on business objectives, and excellent customer support and teamwork ability.

It is a diverse applicant profile that has made it tougher than ever to fill today’s DC positions.

What is causing the staffing shortage?

There are several causes of staffing shortages, ranging from attitudes and awareness to policies and new developments.

Firstly, there is a lack of awareness of DC as a possible career track for prospective engineers and knowledge of what to expedite the identification of system problems. Adding to that, there are insufficient DC-focused courses at institutes of higher learning.

As many locals shy away from jobs in DC, there is a growing need for foreigners to fill up the positions, especially the entry-level jobs.

However, the Singapore government has taken steps to promote local hiring, one of which includes the recent increase in the minimum salary requirement for foreign workers. Thus, it is hard for foreigners with entry-level experience to get an Employment Pass.

With the growing sophistication of data centres, the industry’s focus has shifted from facilitation and operation to cloud ecosystem. This has increased the need for employers with the necessary specialised knowledge in ICT.

What exacerbates the demand for DC talents is a recent rise in uptake of hybrid cloud by Singapore businesses, outpacing the global average, Nutanix’s research showed.

The same study reported a slightly higher percentage of respondents in Singapore who said that their IT department lacked skills for managing hybrid cloud environments (42%) than the global average (37%).

The Fix

The quick solution for the lack of awareness may be hard to come by in the short term. However, with the world’s data skyrocketing (growing at an average of 63% per month), it will only be a matter of time before DC careers begin to take the centre stage of public attention.

More collaborations and information sharing between firms and schools would be helpful. An example of such collaborations is the Work-Study Diploma in Data Centre Infrastructure & Operation, an Institute of Technical Education (ITE) course that combines learning with practical experience. It would be more beneficial if educational policies systematise this exchange and expand it to other higher education institutions.

In fact, many of the skills can be learned on the job. Most jobs do not require a high level of formal education, even in positions where the employer may have initially required it. In other words, relevant experience, an internship/traineeship, or on-the-job training can often more than compensate for the lack of a formal qualification in most DC job roles.

Thus, professional training of the existing employers is crucial to ensure that the staff keeps up with the changing requirements. Smaller operators may not have the capacity to train their engineers like their larger counterparts. Often, they pay a premium to hire experienced DC operators. However, as the industry gradually evolves, what remains will be the larger players, who can afford to train their employers professionally.

Succession training is also critical to maintaining an adequate workforce at all levels of experience and forces the staffing discussion. It enables organisations to transition smoothly in the wake of retirements or other changes in leadership and helps them focus on the relatively new staffing challenge.

Even then, high staff turnover rates in the DC industry may defeat the benefits of training.

There are always fewer elements of uncertainty when we rely more on machines. Automation can reduce the stress on manpower. For example, Datacenter information/infrastructure Management (DCIM) software can expedite the identification of system problems.

According to Uptime institute’s research, 34% of DC operators believe that artificial intelligence will reduce their staffing levels in the next five years, and 43% think that it will take even longer.

Uncertainties remain

Other solutions for the staffing challenges continue to dog the sector. Hiring overseas talents to address local shortage is an increasingly acceptable possibility, especially given the ongoing pandemic.

While remote management is a prominent shift in the DC industry, many other complexities related to remote hiring such as legal and tax issues will come hand-in-hand, points out van Leent.

It is also hard to predict how much additional manpower is required for new technology, such as Edge computing.

This is due to the fact that Edge computing will rely heavily on prefabricated DC designs and will make considerable use of remote monitoring/operations, the staff requirement will likely be both lower than and different from those for centralised DC, making it hard to predict in the near future, according to Uptime Institute.

Perhaps, all this could push up the need for automation in the sector.

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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Microsoft to launch first DC region in Indonesia

Microsoft has established its first data centre region in Indonesia.

This, the Tedmond-based tech major has done as part of its Berdayakan Ekonomi Digital Indonesia initiative.

The initiative is seen by Microsoft as a commitment to advancing growth and digital transformation for Indonesia, its developer and startup ecosystem, enterprises and the public sector. The establishment of this data centre is expected to generate investments will up to $6.3 billion for Indonesia and add about 60,000 jobs to the local economy.

The initiative is a collaboration with four universities and the Ministry of Communications and Information. It will also see Microsoft skill an additional 3 million Indonesians to achieve its goal of reaching over 24 million locals by the end of 2021, through its skills programs that are focused on cloud, cybersecurity, and AI.

“Microsoft’s investment to establish local data centres, digital skilling, and collaboration with the Government of Indonesia will support local innovation, economic recovery, and digital transformation,” Indonesia’s Minister of Communication and Information Johnny G Plate said.

“The Ministry of Communication and Information welcomes Microsoft’s plans to establish a local data centre region with highly secure and compliant cloud services, which will benefit local businesses, government, and individuals across all sectors.

“We also welcome Microsoft’s commitment to increase the capacity of Indonesian digital talent across all skill levels.”

Microsoft has over 60 data centre regions, globally. The Indonesian facility will feature Azure Availability Zones, which are unique physical locations equipped with independent power, network, and cooling. It will also support the company’s sustainability goals, including its commitment to shift to 100% supply of renewable energy in Microsoft data centres by 2025.

Microsoft has around 150 employees and 7,000 partners across Indonesia’s 17,000 islands.

NTT Ltd to invest $180 mn in Tamil Nadu

NTT plans to invest around $180 million) in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

Sharad Sanghi, CEO of NTT Ltd said that the company will use this investment to expand its Data Centre footprint in India. “We are setting up a Data Centre Park spread over 6 acres of land,” he said.

In May 2020, NTT had purchased this land in Ambattur Industrial Estate to accomodate 2 Data Centres with a combined power capacity in excess of 50 MW.  “We plan to start construction of first park in 2021,” satated Sanghi.

In September, NTT Limited had said that is planning to invest $2 billion in the next four years for building additional data centres, solar parks and investing in its undersea cable network.

The investments will go into providing co-location services, setting up of multiple solar parks, expansion into cities such as Mumbai, Chennai and Bengaluru and construction of the optical submarine cable, connecting Singapore, Myanmar and India. “We are increasing our footprint seeing a significant growth in demand for IT infrastructure related needs in the country,” said Sanghi.

Investments are already underway in its new undersea cable project called MIST, which stands for Myanmar Malaysia India Singapore Transit. This project is slated to be operational by third quarter of 2022.

“It will improve communications infrastructure across the Indian Ocean,” Sanghi said. MIST has total design capacity of more than 216 TeraBits per second, 12 Fibre Pair, spread over 8000 kilometers. The landing point will be at Chennai and Mumbai.

NTT Ltd’s Global Data Centers and Cloud Infrastructure division in India currently operates with 10 data centers across 4 major cities with 1.5 million sq. ft. and over 150 MW of power capacity.

According to 451 Research, the data center market in India is growing at 23 per cent CAGR due to increased demand from global cloud providers and a proposed data sovereignty law by the Indian government, as well as other geopolitical factors.

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.

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.

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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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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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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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Equinix plans to develop a $91 million DC in Sydney

Equinix plans to develop a $91 million data centre in central Sydney.

The New York-listed company has submitted its plans, which include a facility, to be built across a 26,000 sq m site at 506 Gardeners Road in Alexandria. This was submitted to the Council earlier this week, the company said.

Equinix plans to provide up to 15,500 sq. metre of new rack space and offices in a new stand alone facility that will link directly with the first stage of its 9,220 cabinet SY5 centre and its existing SY4 centre on Bourke Street.

It will also benefit from direct fibre connect capability between its neighbouring IBX data centres SY1, SY2 and SY3. It will also connect with a new data centre, the SY6 IBX, in Silverwater, Western Sydney.

The new facility will give its users secure connections to more than 1,800 participants across all regions around the world, linking them to major cloud providers such as Alibaba, Amazon AWS, Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, SAP Cloud, Oracle, and SoftLayer.

With this Equinix’s national footprint will go up to 19 data centres across Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Canberra, Adelaide and Brisbane.

Globally, Equinix comprises more than 200 data centres across 26 countries, providing data centre and related services for 10,000 businesses, which includes more than 50 per cent of the Fortune 500 companies.

Perth has been highlighted by Equinix as a strategic location due its proximity to two 4,600 kilometre submarine cables linking to Singapore—the Australia Singapore Cable and Indigo cable.

In Perth, Equinix recently announced plans to develop a $76 million data centre, the third such facility. That first phase of that facility, to be located adjacent to its existing PE2 centre, will offer an initial capacity of 650 cabinets and a collocation space of more than 1,830 sq. metre by the end of this year.

When fully built, the facility will offer 1650 cabinets and a collocation space of more than 10,600 square metres. A day back, ExtraHop, a cybersecurity firm that specialises in cloud-native network detection and response, opened data centre facilities in Sydney to enhance access to its native security platform, Reveal(x) 360. 

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Hiranandani Group to develop a DC park in West Bengal

India’s real estate company Hiranandani Group, has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in the state of West Bengal to set up an industrial, logistics and hyper-scale data centre park in the region.

The combined investment by the group and their customers is estimated to be in the region of Rs 10,000 crore. Hiranandani Group has signed an MoU with Hindustan Motors to acquire a 100-acre land at Uttarpara, Kolkata, to set up an integrated logistics and hyper-scale data centre park by Hiranandani Group companies GreenBase and Yotta respectively, the company said in a statement.

The first phase of the industrial and logistics park will be up and running by June 2022 and the first data centre building will be ready by June 2023, the company said.

GreenBase will deliver 3 million sq feet of industrial and warehousing space along with essential utilities and support infrastructure built to international standards. Greenbase has a pan India presence providing industrial, logistics and warehousing solutions to clients.

A Joint Venture (JV) of the Hiranandani Group with global private equity firm Blackstone, Greenbase is developing industrial and logistics parks across Mumbai MMR region, Pune, Nashik, Chennai and Bengaluru and has plans to deliver 15 million sqft of space across the country in the next five years, having an investment outlay of $500 million.

Yotta, Hiranandani’s hyper-scale data centre division, will see a development of 6 hyperconnected data centre buildings bringing in 250MW of cutting edge data centre capacity over the next several years to the state. In 2020, Yotta inaugurated its Asia’s largest and World’s second-largest Uptime Institute Tier IV certified data centre in Navi Mumbai. It most recently announced its Greater Noida data centre park and Chennai data centre park.

“Kicking off this project would not have been possible without the tremendous support of the Government of West Bengal under the leadership of chief minister Mamta Banerjee. West Bengal is the gateway to the east. It is an ideal hub for logistics and industrial development with excellent road, rail and riverine connectivity,” said Darshan Hiranandani, Group CEO, Hiranandani Group.

Simultaneously, the data centre business will benefit from the digitization revolution, the upcoming Silicon Valley at New Town at Rajarhat and excellent fibre connectivity on land and the new submarine cable coming up at Tajpur. “By setting up a data centre park in Kolkata, we will not only serve the customers of the state but the entire eastern region including neighbouring countries,” he said.

The data centre industry is expected to add 703 MW capacity by the end of 2025, translating into an opportunity of 9.3 million sq ft of real estate development, according to a report by JLL.

 

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Cybersecurity firm ExtraHop opens new data centre facilities in Sydney 

ExtraHop, a cybersecurity firm that specialises in cloud-native network detection and response, opened data centre facilities in Sydney to enhance access to its native security platform, Reveal(x) 360.

This means the company can also deliver reduced latency and higher availability, whilst ensuring that customers maintain data sovereignty.

“Organisations around the world are rethinking their approach to security as advanced threats like APTs and software supply chain attacks take a financial and reputational toll,” says ExtraHope Asia Pacific and Japan vice president David Sajoto.

He said that the company is committed to providing the customers with learning-backed detection and response capabilities that put public and private sector security teams back in the driver’s seat when it comes to protecting their organisations.

As such,  they serve to ensure that their customers “have access to high-availability, low-latency security capabilities that meet local standards for data sovereignty and protection”.

This is the company’s latest move in its expansion in Australia and the broader APAC region.

In August 2020, ExtraHop appointed Australian distribution partner NEXTGEN as part of its agreement to broaden its security channel in the country.

In October 2020 the company’s ExtraHop Reveal(x) 360 achieve Amazon Web Services (AWS) Security Competency Status, meaning that ExtraHop has the required technical proficiency and ability to help customers secure applications, data, and workloads on AWS.

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ASM technologies and Lavelle Networks set up a new CoE for SD-WAN

ASM Technologies Ltd, a global Engineering Services provider, today announced that it was going to set up a new Centre of Excellence (CoE) for software-defined networking, in partnership with Lavelle Networks Inc., an India based enterprise networking company.

SD-WAN (Software-defined networking in a wide area network) simplifies the management and operation of a WAN (wide area network) by decoupling the networking hardware from its control mechanism. It makes hybrid infrastructure deployments easier to manage and therefore more common.

The explosive potential for SD-WAN in emerging economies and their massive public and private sector digital transformation initiatives have created the need for rapid innovation and agile software development on one of India’s leading SD-WAN software platforms – the Lavelle Networks’ ScaleAOn technology.

Towards this end, the new CoE aims to solve cutting edge networking technology problems to drive better and better results for application experience in a rapidly digitising customer landscape.

The companies are excited to announce that in their 11.0 (latest software release), the results of their collaboration have already gone to several production networks, and customers are happy to see the results in such a short time.

SD-WAN is the fastest-growing enterprise networking segment, with APAC having the highest CAGR, compared to the rest of the world. A report by Avant Communications, a leading IT decision-making platform, titled 2021 State of Disruption Report, recently concluded after surveying more than 500 US-based enterprise technology professionals, that nearly 60% of enterprises would significantly increase their SD-WAN usage this year.

Commenting on the development, Mr. Rabindra Srikantan, Managing Director, ASM Technologies Ltd., said, “We are extremely thrilled with the setting up this CoE in partnership with Lavelle Networks and are confident that it will unlock huge value for our customers going forward. Our longstanding relationship with Lavelle has given ASM deeper insights into the SD-WAN space and in knowing how Enterprises / OEMs are adopting to SD-WAN and Edge Computing.”

“The Center of Excellence at ASM Technologies has enabled us to look at emerging use cases and trends in the industry, and enhance our SD-WAN capabilities to cater to new business cases for the future. For instance, ASM Technologies is a key partner for us with regard to the work we are doing to address the networking needs of the Edge Computing environments.” – said Karthik Madhava, Founder & Chief Technology Officer, while commenting on the establishment of the Center of Excellence for Software-Defined Networking Technologies.

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DCs overlooking CO2-eq emissions saving of over 3 mn tonnes: EkkoSense

  • EkkoSense analysis indicates that organizations are missing an opportunity to cut their data center cooling energy consumption by 30 percent
  • Research also reveals that up to 60 percent of expensive cooling equipment installed in data centers is not actually delivering any active cooling benefits

The world’s leading data centers are missing out on proven ways of cutting cooling energy consumption by up to 30 percent, new research shows.

The analysis, conducted by EkkoSense – a provider of software-driven data center thermal optimization solutions – assessed cooling performance across a sample of some 133 data center halls with analysis of over 33,000 IT racks.

The results showed that the current average data center cooling utilization level is only 40 percent. EkkoSense’s research also identified that implementing an effective thermal optimisation programme has collectively secured a cumulative 10MW+ cooling power saving – equivalent to a minimum $10 million cooling energy cost saving since deployment. In carbon terms, this equates to a cumulative saving of around 20,000 tonnes CO2eq emissions reduction[i].

This level of performance optimization applied to the broader global estate of 22,474 midsize, enterprise and larger hyperscale data centers[ii] suggests that potential worldwide cooling energy savings of over $1.7 billion are realizable. Additionally, an overall carbon emissions reduction of some 3.38 million tonnes CO2 -eq worldwide can be secured simply by applying the systematic and synchronized application of data center cooling optimisation best practices on a global basis.

“With data centers already established as one of the world’s highest collective consumers of energy, it’s imperative that IT operations teams do everything they can to deliver the quick carbon reduction wins that will help organisations to deliver on their net zero commitments,” commented Mark Acton, a leading data center technical and standards consultant and an EkkoSense Non-Executive Director. “The good news is that with the latest generation of software-driven data centre optimization solutions there’s a real opportunity for organisations to achieve significant carbon reductions. Indeed, EkkoSense’s in-depth analysis of data center thermal performance shows that it’s now possible to secure cooling energy consumption reductions of around a third simply by following current thermal optimization best practices”.

“Data center operators also need to recognise that optimizing thermal performance positively impacts data center risk management – however it’s difficult to ask the right questions if you don’t actually have any granular visibility into how your individual racks and cooling equipment are performing,” added Anuraag Saxena, Data Center Optimisation Manager at EkkoSense. “From our research we know that only 5 percent of data center M&E teams currently monitor and report equipment temperature actively on an individual rack-by-rack basis – and even less collect real-time cooling duty information or conduct any formal cooling resilience tests. So, it’s perhaps hardly surprising that our initial analysis showed that – at any given time – around 10-15 percent of data center racks were actually well out of ASHRAE thermal compliance.”

Given that the typical response of many organisations facing IT cooling challenges is to further invest in more expensive cooling equipment, EkkoSense’s findings show that the underlying cause of poor data center thermal compliance is clearly not a lack of cooling capacity. Instead, facility teams and other technical stakeholders should be focused on optimizing their data centers’ thermal performance and using their investment in existing cooling systems more efficiently. This not only results in reduced cooling costs year-on-year but also eliminates, or defers, the need for capital investment.

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The APAC data center market outlook 2021-2026: Report

Reportlinker.com announced the release of the report “APAC Data Center Market – Industry Outlook and Forecast 2021-2026”.

The APAC data center market share has been witnessing exceptional growth since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has increased the access to internet-related services aided by lockdowns and restrictions imposed by government agencies across the region.

The APAC data center market by revenue is expected to grow at a CAGR of approximate 6% during the period 2021–2026.

Colocation service providers witnessed a strong uptake of data center spaces by existing customers owing to the growth in demand during the pandemic.

Due to the emergence of a new business environment, cloud service providers and video conferencing service providers have significantly contributed toward colocation and data center services, the report found.

COVID-19 impacts vary

In Japan, the data center construction witnessed no impact due to the pandemic, however, data center operators implemented stringent precautionary regulations for the safety of their employees.

Similarly, in India, a country-wide lockdown lasted for around 60 days with a majority of operations performed via online and remote mediums, which increased internet users by 25%. Hence, the market witnessed a strong spike in the announcement of new projects across India, China, Malaysia, and Japan in Q3 2020.

Growth factors

The report identified the following factors are likely to contribute to the growth of the APAC data center market during the forecast period:

• Implementation of 5G Network triggering Edge Data Center Investments

• Procurement of Renewable Energy

• Installation of Innovative Data Center Technology

• Artificial Intelligence Enhances Liquid Immersion & Direct-to-Chip Cooling Adoption

Demand for computing infrastructure increased

The demand for high-performance computing infrastructure is increasing due to the adoption of IoT, artificial intelligence, and big data analytics in China and Hong Kong. The adoption of blade type servers is set to grow in China and Hong Kong. Over 90% of data centers in China have adopted blade servers for the high-density computing environment. The demand for supercomputers is also increasing with the adoption of digital currency in these countries.

The IT infrastructure spending in Australia will be dominated by cloud-service providers, followed by enterprises, involving self-managed IT infrastructure solutions. Over 50% of the business IT budget is spent on the migration to cloud-based services in Australia, with IaaS spending leading the chart.

In India, a rise in the cloud, big data, IoT, and artificial intelligence technology by enterprises is a major driver for the IT infrastructure market. Around 70% of start-ups in India are adopting IoT technology, with healthcare and manufacturing segments attracting the highest investment.

The demand for modular data center facilities deployed in Southeast Asian countries is high. The procurement of lithium-ion UPS is expected to grow in the region to avoid high OPEX on VRLA systems. The data center development is likely to be of higher capacity, typically over 5 MW, requiring the adoption of 2N redundant backup systems owing to challenges related to power fluctuations and outages.

In China and Hong Kong, a majority of data centers adopt a combination of air and water-based cooling techniques to cool down facilities. However, a few facilities are built to support free cooling techniques. Data centers in India mainly use air-based and few facilities operate using water-based cooling systems. However, data centers are not completely suitable for free cooling. Few states in the country support free cooling of up to 1,000 hours annually.

High air pollution levels in major cities across India could make free cooling an unfeasible option for operators. Most high-density environments are likely to consider water-based cooling systems, while small-scale deployments could operate through air-based cooling systems in the country. A majority of data centers in Singapore are designed to adopt water-based cooling techniques. The growth of data center construction market in APAC will aid in the development of facilities that would comprise multiple chillers, cooling towers, and CRAH units with N+N redundant configuration.

China led greenfield constructions; Malaysia expected to see more new projects

In terms of general construction, China leads greenfield construction. Hong Kong is expected to witness largely brownfield developments due to the space shortage during the forecast period. A majority of the construction contractors are located in these markets. Whereas in India, the increased interest to improve efficiency and reduce OPEX is driving data center operators to procure intelligent DCIM solutions for end-to-end monitoring of facilities.

Most data centers developed in Malaysia during the forecast period are expected to be greenfield. The market also has a strong potential for growth among modular data center projects. The labor cost in Malaysia is cheaper than in Singapore. However, the availability of a skilled workforce will be a major challenge among providers.

More high-tiered projects in the works

In the APAC region, several under-developed projects fall under the Tier III category, and the trend is expected to continue during the forecast period, with several operators likely to shift to the Tier IV category.

Higher tier means that the data center is capable of providing a higher level of service.These metrics of level include redundant electrical path for power, uptime guarantee, cooling capacity, and concurrent maintainability, to name a few.

In terms of colocation, these facilities will cost higher per rack basis than Tier I and Tier II facilities. Most new data centers are designed as Tier III standards with a minimum of N+1 redundancy. Tier IV data centers are equipped with minimum 2N+1 redundancy in every infrastructure that makes the facility fault-tolerant, with some facilities having 2N+2 redundancy of infrastructures such as UPS systems and PDUs.

Mega-projects in China & Hong Kong data center markets are designed to be of Tier III and Tier IV standards, which are leading to a high deployment of 2N redundant UPS systems. Multiple data center facilities with a power capacity of more than 10 MW are implemented in Australia, which is increasing the adoption of over 500 kVA capacity UPS systems. DRUPS systems are majorly adopted in the country.

Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, and Google are the major contributors to Tier IV data centers. These facilities generate more revenue for the APAC data center market, with focused investment on highly efficient cooling systems.

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Chindata establishes two new subsidiaries in two days

Chindata Group, a leading carrier-neutral hyperscale data center solution provider in Asia-Pacific emerging markets established two new subsidiaries within two days: Chindustry, to create more value for digital leaders; Chinpower, to contribute to a greener hyperscale data center industry.

Chindustry’s predecessor is the Group’s Project Delivery BU, which has the successful development and construction experience in planning, designing and building the next-generation hyperscale computing infrastructure.

The Group expects it to provide customized, cost-effective and full-stack solutions for its customers, adapting to global tech giants’ diverse needs.

Chinpower aims to develop a brand-new energy solution for the hyperscale data center industry, the Group released.

These new subsidiaries come after the Group raised $540 million in a U.S. initial public offering priced at the top of a marketed range and climbed 20% in its trading debut in October last year, Chindata Group after raising, according to statistics by Bloomberg.

Globally, investors are eyeing cloud computing service providers, necessary for employees working from home, Bloomberg reported.

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A billion Indians march towards Digital Payments: NPCI

Digital Payment methods have gone beyond the rich or well educated in India, according to a study conducted by People Research on India’s Consumer Economy (PRICE) in partnership with the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI).

PRICE collaborated with NPCI to conduct this study, in an effort to quantify the strides consumers in India are taking towards becoming a ‘less cash’ society. The study pointed out that while one out of two of India’s richest 20 per cent households use digital payment, an even better set of numbers played out in the disadvantaged sections of the society.

Around one out of four households, in the poorest 40 per cent also used digital payments. Additionally, there is a suppressed demand of people who say they desire to use it but need someone to show them how to, and a smaller group who used it earlier and discontinued.

PRICE is a ‘non-profit’ think tank and this study covered 5314 households across 25 states with a sample designed to represent states and households across the income spectrum, the survey was aimed at understanding the awareness, adoption and use behaviour of households with respect to digital payments. NPCI is an initiative by Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) for operating retail payments and settlement systems in India.

If this ‘ready’ demand is enabled through effective training and education, then over half of all Indian households (54 per cent or 151 million households) will become digital payment users, according to the survey. Around 55 million of these households will come from the poorest 40 per cent of Indian households, 61 million will come from middle India or middle 40 per cent income band and only 36 million will come from the richest 20 per cent.

The report also points to the fact that thatsmart phone ownership is no longer a bottleneck for the adoption of digital payments with 68 per cent of the respondents (those in charge of looking after banking and payment work for the household, typically the Chief Wage earner) owning smartphones. As expected smartphone usage is near universal at 90 per cent for the richest 20 per cent of Indian households, but as high as 57 per cent of India’s poorest households have a smartphone.

These findings offer a significant insight into the 1.2 billion Indians, with around 40 per cent of them not ‘literate’ in the conventional sense but who are aware of using a smartphone.

The report pointed out that a high level of awareness of UPI and payment apps and that households which are using Unified Payments Interface (UPI) as a platform may not be completely aware about interoperability of the platform. There is a potential to create the awareness that any bank or payment app can be used to make UPI payments to any UPI user and users should know their UPI ID.

The RuPay card volumes have also witnessed a rise not only in urban areas, but also in remote PIN codes that had hitherto remained silent. The study revealed that the banking system is also very well connected digitally to respondents via Aadhaar linkages and SMS facility even at the lower income groups. The report finds 87 per cent of the respondents are aware of the act that they get SMS from the banks, which gives them the confidence to manage their money safely. As per the report, the Direct Benefit Transfers (DBT) delivery system has worked exceedingly well for the respondents and got even better during lockdown as around 85 per cent of the households received DBTs on their bank accounts.

Praveena Rai, COO, NPCI said, “It is very heartening to see the results of the digital payment ecosystem that NPCI has enabled and nurtured. The report clearly establishes that in India, digital payments have gone well past the early adoption stage and have gained significant traction across the country, including the lower income groups. The demand and optimism towards digital payments by Indian households who have traditionally been strong votaries of cash energises us in our mission of touching a billion Indians through digital payment products tailored to their needs. We learn from the report that though smartphone ownership is high, there is still a significant chunk of consumers who do not as yet have them. At NPCI, we are working towards offering non-smartphone users a sustainable digital payment solution and provide them easy, safe and instant payments experience as well.”

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, in Budget 2021, announced multiple changes to the goods and services tax framework aimed at helping small and medium businesses to tide over pandemic-induced disruptions. Ravi Vishvanathan, CFO, PayMate is of the view that this will filip to fintechs providing digital payment services to small and medium businesses by liberally amending the tax audit turnover limit for them.

 

 

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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.