South Korea’s Data Dam project to fuel digital economy through new cloud flagships and advanced data centers

In the midst of another COVID-19 surge, the South Korean Government kicked off the national ‘Data Dam’ project to help the country’s digital economy adapt to a post-pandemic world.

Shared through 5G networks, the project will collect and process information from public and private sectors to create useful data and stimulate new technologies like artificial intelligence and augmented reality.

Overcoming great depressions

The Data Dam, named after the Hoover Dam that helped the United States overcome the Great Depression, will target seven key business areas for support.

Elementary, middle and high school students in South Korea endured a rocky learning experience for most of 2020 due to the pandemic, switching back and forth between on-campus learning to online classes. Seeing the unfortunate effects on students’ wellbeing, the education sector will be a core focus of Data Dam.

Under the project, content materials for online courses will be expanded and digitised. The overall education infrastructure will be improved to create an offline/online integrated learning environment.

“Initially, it was expected that the latest project could create some 24,000 jobs, but companies that picked for the educational AI project alone said they need to hire at least 28,000, which will push up the overall employment figures”, the Ministry of Science and ICT said.

The educational AI initiative is considered a centerpiece of the Data Dam project, with an anticipated 1,250 projects to be developed, thousands of jobs created and US$240 million allocated to make it happen.

On top of this, the project will focus on boosting the digital economy through the creation of cloud flagships and building big data platforms and setting up advanced data centers.

A total of 4,739 companies and institutions have forwarded ideas to implement the data, with 2,100 projects being supported in the first year alone.

The Data Dam will be rolled out as part of the Government’s Digital New Deal plan announced in July.

Inside the Digital New Deal

Technology has helped South Korea effectively combat the pandemic, and now President Moon Jae-In’s government wants to further develop it to benefit the rest of the country through the Digital New Deal.

The Digital New Deal is a five-year blueprint by the South Korean government to spearhead the country’s smooth transition into the realm of 5G and artificial intelligence. 

The Deal hopes to achieve twelve goals in primary, secondary and tertiary sectors in the country, including the integration of 5G and AI into all sectors, the digitalisation of the education sector, the expansion of smart cities and improving digital access in rural and disadvantaged areas.

The Moon government will be spending an estimated US$68.6 billion by 2025 on the new deal to create almost one million jobs in the country.

To spur digital transformation and cooperation with fellow APAC countries during these unprecedented and uncertain times, Korea has also adopted a knowledge sharing initiative to emphasise the important role of data-based policies and development of digital solutions through ICT and emerging technologies.

The initiative agreed by the APEC Telecommunications and Information Working Group, consisting of APAC nations as well as the USA, Canada, Russia and countries in South America, will look to share best practice solutions and strengthen cooperation in the Asia Pacific region and international community to facilitate digital transition to address global challenges.

Enabled by initiatives like these, South Korea boasts one of the highest literacy rates in the world as well as one of the world’s fastest internet speeds. As the government combines and refines the status of South Korea as one of the four Asian Tigers, the New Deal will look to give the country the boost it needs to remain a digital powerhouse.

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AWS to deliver 99.999% durability with new io2 volumes in Asia Pacific

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has announced the general availability of io2 in Asia Pacific.

The next generation Provisioned IOPS SSD volumes for Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS) are designed to deliver 100x higher volume durability of 99.999% compared to the previous 99.9% durability offered by io1.

“Customers rely on highly durable AWS block storage to keep their business-critical applications running at any scale,” said Mai-Lan Tomsen Bukovec, the Vice President of Block and Object Storage at AWS.

This higher durability reduces the likelihood of storage failures and improves application availability by making primary copies of data more resilient.

“For new customers where five nines of storage durability is critical to migrate on-premises business critical applications to AWS, io2 brings together performance, durability, and agility all in a single EBS volume,” added Ms. Tomsen Bukovec.

Compared to io1, customers requiring high availability of CRM and online transaction systems  can drive 10x higher input/output operations per second (IOPS) to improve performance without increasing storage cost.

“We need to provision more storage to meet the IOPS requirements, adding to our cost. But with the 10x increase in IOPS per GB ratio, we can easily enable peak performance at a much lower cost than we ever could with traditional SAN hardware vendors,” said Mohammad Shaikh, the Director for Scientific Computing Services, Cloud Computing and DevOps at Bristol Myers Squibb, a global biopharmaceutical company.

AWS identified that customers often provision more storage than needed to meet IOPS requirements for applications like SAP HANA, Microsoft SQL Server, Splunk, Apache Cassandra, IBM DB2, MySQL, PostgreSQL, and Oracle databases. This resulted in higher spends than customers would otherwise incur.

“Our commitment to our core value of customer success includes ensuring Salesforce applications are available whenever our customers need them,” said Paul Constantinides, the Executive Vice President of Engineering at Salesforce.

The io2 volumes are priced the same as io1 volumes, keeping the same predictable cost for EBS customers.

“The impact of downtime for our customers is high. The new IOPS to GB ratio means we’re actually paying less for performance per GB,” said Chris Bunch, the GM for AWS Practice at Cloudreach, a company specialising in implementing and managing public cloud solutions for enterprise customers across Europe and North America.

Customers can create new AWS io2 volumes or upgrade existing volumes to io2 using Elastic Volumes, which modify the volume type without any downtime for applications running on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud.

“As our customer base has grown, we have started relying more and more on the availability of this platform to guide our strategic decisions. So, higher volume durability is critical for minimizing any downtime,” said Ulrich Dangel, the Principal Infrastructure Architect at Rapid7, a leading provider of cloud security analytics and automation.

The new AWS io2 volumes are now available in Mumbai, Seoul, Singapore, Sydney and Tokyo.

Is cloud hosting right for your business?

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Alibaba Cloud sees 50% surge in demand to keep Singapore SMEs running during Circuit Breaker

Once Singapore began Circuit Breaker measures to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic by locking down the country in April, Alibaba Cloud saw a 50% surge in demand for cloud-based technologies.

Businesses, especially small and medium enterprises, embraced cloud computing to continue operations and enable remote working when Singapore’s general mobility came to a standstill.

“When COVID-19 stuck, we felt the struggle and the pain faced by Singaporean local companies,” said Derek Wang, the General Manager of Alibaba Cloud Singapore.

Alibaba Cloud sought to guide local enterprises in Singapore through digitalisation and digital transformation journeys by sharing their know-hows and expertise.

Despite the unprecedented impact caused by COVID-19 on the economy and businesses, Singapore’s SMEs demonstrated their resilience and willingness to embrace cloud computing technologies.

Feeding Singapore on the cloud

With panic buying spreading across the world and shoppers being stranded at home during the pandemic, food and goods delivery services played a critical role in feeding Singapore.

To support the spikes in demand, RedMart, a leading online supermarket in Singapore under Alibaba subsidiary Lazada, ran Alibaba Cloud’s digital infrastructure to maintain delivery records and customer satisfaction.

“Alibaba Cloud has helped RedMart manage our software applications in a flexible, reliable, and cost-effective manner,” said Ashish Awasthi, the Executive Vice President of RedMart.

RedMart implemented Alibaba Cloud database and Elastic Compute Services to virtualize, store, network and secure their infrastructure, which increased their efficiency.

The online supermarket was said to be able to keep costs down for customers by achieving a low total cost of ownership.

Keeping Singaporean retailers in business

As queues reduced to almost zero and shutters closed on shops, heartland retailers were tragically affected by lockdown.

To maintain business continuity and reach customers, traditional brick-and-mortar organisations were forced to go digital.

Alibaba Cloud partnered with SCash to help businesses become an omnichannel operation to enable rapid digital transformation.

“Our partnership with Alibaba Cloud will provide our customers with much needed infrastructure, skills and cost-effectiveness to go digital,” Michael Lee, the Chief Executive Officer of SCash.

More than 170 heartland enterprises signed up for the Alibaba Cloud-SCash initiative, including traditional Chinese medicine halls, fashion outlets, and hawker stalls.

Ensuring staff health and well-being

The health of all individuals is of critical importance, making social distancing, temperature checks and contact tracing paramount during the pandemic.

Alibaba Cloud partnered with JET Workflow to assist SPACElogic, an interior design service in Singapore, in conducting self-check-ins and temperature monitoring from smart devices much like the SafeEntry services implemented by the Singaporean Government.

“Our workers are our greatest asset; therefore, we are very pleased to work with Alibaba Cloud to use technology to help ensure their safety at the workplace,” said Roland Ang, the Regional Director of Strategy and Development at SPACElogic.

This cloud-based solution enabled SPACElogic to look after their workers’ well-being while continuing normal business activities.

Educating Singapore’s students

Once schools closed to contain the spread of COVID-19, students and teachers turned to online learning.

BambooCloud, a cloud-based online learning platform in Singapore, experienced pressure on their existing digital infrastructure due to the sudden increase in online traffic.

“We believe online learning is the future of education. By equipping ourselves with the reliable technology infrastructure provided by Alibaba Cloud, we are able to expand our business to serve more customers on demand especially during COVID-19,” said Yu Hao, Chief Executive Officer of BambooCloud.

BambooCloud deployed Alibaba Cloud’s elastic, scalable and flexible infrastructure to deliver a smooth learning experience that is cost-effective and easy to deploy.

Back in 2003, when the SARS epidemic hit, Alibaba decided to go all-in on technology investments when they were still a SME on the verge of launching their Taobao e-commerce platform.

With this similar experience, Alibaba Cloud launched a US$30 million Anti-COVID-19 SME Enablement Program to accelerate cloud adoption and provide much-needed relief during the pandemic.

Is cloud hosting right for your business?

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But is it right for your business? Register now and join industry experts and peers for our Inside Asia digital event to get the answers!

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How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected technology adoption in the BFSI market?

With economic downturns and recessions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic hitting the world, it is a unique and uncertain time for the BFSI sector, as more and more services are going digital.

Banking, financial services and insurance organisations are activating business continuity and risk management plans to survive the impacts and challenges of COVID-19.

“Somehow, over the past three years, the practices of risk management got deprioritised, so that the other priorities like customer centricity or digital innovation world take more importance,” said Michael Araneta, the Associate Vice-President for IDC Financial Insights.

Following the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr. Araneta believes it is important for BFSI organisations to revisit risk managements plans and consider cybersecurity, which could lead to being as extensive as capital related issues regarding liquidity and asset liability management.

“This is really just a matter of activating your risk management plans, but also ensuring that you are well equipped to take on the operational aspects of this crisis,” said Mr. Araneta.

Which technologies did the BFSI sector adopt to react to the pandemic?

To react to this pandemic crisis, BFSI companies began to increase investments and priority in digital technologies to ensure their operations were running 24 hours, 7 days a week.

“The critical technologies they obviously would be using are productivity tools, but more importantly, productivity tools that are on the cloud,” said Mr. Araneta.

It was crucial for these cloud-based technologies to be made as reliable, secure, and accessible by staff as quick as possible, even if they were working remotely.

“The ability of the organisations to sustain operations on uninterrupted basis is very important,” said Mr. Araneta.

Along with cloud applications, the next set of technologies to be prioritised concerned cybersecurity and threat intelligence, as the nature of security threats had already started to change alongside the rise of digitalisation, fintechs and insurtechs long before the pandemic.

“Many of these technologies are already available, it’s just really a matter of making sure that you adopt them in a safe and secured manner,” warned Mr. Araneta.

To take a more proactive approach during this crisis, Mr. Araneta also identified the growing importance in the need to observe data analytics, new types of data and make decisions based on the data.

“The ability of the institutions to analyse data on a real-time basis, so that they can proactively react to the trends in the market became very important,” added Mr. Araneta.

As one of the largest technology research organisations, IDC’s financial insights studied the big BFSI industry trends and developments coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic. One of their major findings was that the financial data we used to rely on does not work anymore.

“The data that we used to rely on to make decisions in 2019 are completely different from the data that we need for 2020,” observed Mr. Araneta.

He speculated that this could be due to the changing conditions and macroeconomic situation that has changed the way that businesses are built.

The key is to remain adaptable and adjust to new working environments, customer needs and technologies to make sure that these are a good fit for your organisation.

> Watch the full interview with IDC’s Michael Araneta

What is the weak link in your cybersecurity strategy?

Southeast Asia is becoming a prime target for cybercriminals, with rapidly growing digitalisation and interconnectivity in the region.

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Register now to find out how you can protect your business and data from the growing threat of cybercriminals on Thursday 3 September.

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