Acronis acquires South Africa’s Synapsys to fortify cybersecurity standing

Singapore-bred, Swiss-incorporated cybersecurity giant Acronis has announced the acquisition of its long-time South African partner Synapsys, making it the company’s fourth acquisition in the past 18 months.

Synapsys is the distributor of Acronis’ Cyber Protection Solutions in South Africa and across the African continent. The company works with a network of distributors, resellers, and managed service providers (MSPs) to make product and service offerings for Acronis.

Serguei ‘SB’ Beloussov, Founder and CEO of Acronis, said that this acquisition will give users direct access to the company’s technology and support.

“Africa is becoming a strategic growth opportunity for Acronis and acquiring Synapsys provides us with a permanent presence on the continent. The move is beneficial for Acronis, the African MSP channel, and the organizations and users that need to safeguard their workloads and systems against the modern threat landscape,” he explained.

The acquisition is also in line with Acronis’ ongoing Global/Local Initiative, which aims to provide expanded in-country access to the company’s worldwide resources.

Synapsys Managing Director Peter French added that clients can look forward to a closer relationship with Acronis that will boost the cybersecurity ecosystem in the region. Upon the acquisition, French will also now serve as Acronis’ General Manager for the Middle East/Africa market.

Singapore government rolls out new cybersecurity programs for critical information infrastructures

Singapore is developing programmes to establish cybersecurity standards and minimize cyber risks across the supply chain for government sectors with sensitive data.

This primarily involves Critical Information Infrastructure (CII), referring to 11 sectors responsible for the delivery of the country’s essential services, including government, energy, and healthcare.

The program, called the CII Supply Chain Programme, will involve the Cyber Security Agency (CSA), CII owners, and their vendors.

It is a continuation of Singapore’s Cybersecurity Masterplan 2020, which outlines new policies for a more secure and trustworthy cybersecurity ecosystem.

Managing risk across the supply chain

Announcing the program on Mar 2, Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information Janil Puthucheary noted that while all CII owners are currently required to maintain a mandatory level of cybersecurity under the Cybersecurity Act, most organizations engage vendors to support their operation.

“Therefore, we also need to manage cybersecurity risks across the supply chain,” he said in Parliament. This requires infrastructure owners to have a better understanding of their vendors to identify systemic risks and improve their level of “cyber hygiene”.

It will provide recommended processes and sound practices for all stakeholders to manage cybersecurity risks in the supply chain, said Dr Puthucheary.

The Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) noted that the CII Supply Chain Programme will help infrastructure owners develop guidelines to enable them to better understand and manage their vendors, such as by ranking them according to their cybersecurity posture.

More details on the programme will be announced in the third quarter of this year, MCI said.

Zero-trust cybersecurity posture

“In the longer term, our CII sectors and companies will also need to adopt a zero-trust cybersecurity posture,” he added, this is necessary to defend against supply chain attacks by “highly sophisticated threat actors”.

“In concrete terms, this means that CII owners should not trust digital activity in their networks without verification. They should also authenticate continuously, detect anomalies in a timely manner, and validate transactions across network segments,” added Dr Puthucheary.

Resources to strengthen the digital fortress

Separately, CSA will support companies in strengthening their cybersecurity with the launch of the SG Cyber Safe Programme, as part of the Safer Cyberspace Masterplan.

“First, we will provide informational resources and educational material for key roles including C-suite executives, cybersecurity teams and frontline employees, based on their specific roles and knowledge needs,” said Dr Puthucheary.

An employee cybersecurity toolkit will be introduced by the end of this year.

Cybersecurity “Trustmark” for firms

CSA will also introduce a voluntary Cyber Safe Trustmark for enterprises that have achieved a high standard of cybersecurity.

The industry consultations on the specifics of the trustmark to begin in April, and it is expected to be introduced by early next year, he added.

A recent survey has shown that there is a widening gap between cybersecurity needs and capabilities. For CII, this exposes the availability of the essential service in Singapore to hacking threats.

Singapore’s success in digitalisation has exposed new vulnerabilities, which will only grow as technologies evolve and become more complex, said Dr Puthucheary.

The Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA) reported that 9,430 cybercrime cases were reported in 2019, accounting for 26.8% of overall crime in the island state.

As Singapore continues to equip itself to become Asia’s post-pandemic digital hub, it needs to ensure the “companies and people to be aware of the risks, vigilant of their manifestations, and make informed choices to protect our safety”, he added.

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Report: Singapore offers the best mobile experience in SEA

Singapore provides the best overall mobile experience in Southeast Asia, according to Tutela.

The data company recently released its 2021 Southeast Asia State of Mobile Experience report, ranking the network experience of users of each country’s mobile network operators across the region. Over 55 million smartphone speed and latency tests were evaluated between August 1, 2020 and January 31, 2021.

Singapore had the highest Core Consistent Quality in the region at 94.4 percent. It also has the highest Excellent Consistent Quality with 84.5 percent of connections having a network experience suitable for use-cases such as 1080p video streaming, real-time mobile gaming, and HD video calling.

Vietnam came in second for both Excellent and Core Consistent Quality at 86.1 percent. Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia follow with close Excellent Consistent Quality scores that are all above 50 percent, and Core Consistent Quality scores above 80 percent.

Image Credit: Tutela 2021 South East Asia Mobile Experience Report

The Philippines, however, did not fare so well compared to its neighbours. Its Excellent Consistent Quality score was 45.7 percent, whereas its Core Consistent Quality was 69.5 percent.

“In such a geographically small and highly advanced nation, mobile users expect near-perfect mobile experience all of the time – and the test results were strong for all operators,” said Tom Luke, Vice President at Tutela.

“As 5G rollouts continue and more 5G-capable devices become available, all of this could change in the coming months and we look forward to seeing the impact that this has on the results for all operators,” he added.

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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Huawei launches APAC’s first smartphone lab in Singapore

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

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

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

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

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

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

Deepening ties in Southeast Asia

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

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

Singapore 2021 Budget: $75.3 million to support digital transformation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Singtel joins forces with Microsoft for 5G edge computing

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

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

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

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

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

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

Singapore government sets up 30 million dollar fund to drive commercial 5G

To further spur Singapore’s 5G drive, the government has launched a new $30 million fund to accelerate the adoption and commercialisation of 5G solutions.

Introduced by Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), the fund is part of the Authority’s 5G Innovation Program that aims to create a thriving 5G ecosystem that benefits individuals and businesses.

This means that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Singapore are now able to apply for a grant from the fund to support their digital transformation projects.

Mr. Lew Chuen Hong, Chief Executive of IMDA, hopes that this fund will see more SMEs in Singapore participate and seize the opportunities offered by 5G technology.

“5G is a key enabler for Singapore’s digital future, and I am encouraged to see our 5G partnerships with industry demonstrating good results, such as through more efficient and reliable port operations, and good progress on the ongoing trials,” he added.

SMEs that are interested in applying for the fund can submit a proposal to IMDA highlighting the commercialisation plan of their 5G-enabled solutions. Once approved, the IMDA will cover up to 70% of the project cost.

A new data center is coming to Noida, India

India’s city of Noida will see the development of a greenfield data center campus in the near future.

Singaporean data center group, ST Telemedia Global Data Centers (STT GDC), is backing the project. The proposed data center campus will cost an estimated Rs 600 crore, and will have a critical IT capacity of 18 Megawatts (MW) in its first phase.

As for the second phase of the investment, Alok Kumar, Chief Secretary of IT and Industrial Development at STT GDC in India added that a land parcel of around three acres has been identified by the investor, which means that IT capacity would be increased to 36 MW in phase two. This will be an additional estimated investment of Rs 500 crore.

“In view of the web-based and digitally driven economy gaining prominence, the state government is preparing a new data center policy with the objective of creating state-of-the-art data and IT ecosystem to meet the requirements of industry, enterprises and citizens,” Mr. Kumar added.

STT GDC’s presence is good news for both Singapore and India

A subsidiary of Singapore’s state-owned investment management firm Temasek Holdings, STT GDC has been expanding its footprint in India for several years. In 2016, the company acquired a 74% stake in Indian telco Tata Communications to grow its data center business in both India and Singapore.

This new data center campus is in line with the Uttar Pradesh government’s program to promote digital economy growth, said Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma.

Upon completion, the data center will cost a total of Rs 1,100 crore and is expected to provide nearly 80 direct job opportunities and around 1,000 indirect employment opportunities.

These initiatives are part of STT GDC’s expansion plans. Recently, it entered into  a strategic partnership with Hyosung Heavy Industries as it forayed into the South Korean market. This partnership is through a joint venture, where 60 percent of the data center partnership will be held by STT GDC and the remaining 40 percent will be held by Hyosung Heavy Industries.

Netskope expands security cloud services in Singapore data centers

US-based Netskope has announced the expansion of its security cloud services to data centers in Singapore. 

As part of the company’s efforts to grow its investments in the region, Netskope’s flagship private security cloud network, Netskope NewEdge, will be available to its customers in Singapore.

This means that some of Netskope’s most well-known clients in Singapore will be able to enjoy a range of cloud-based cybersecurity services. They include Trustwave, the cybersecurity arm of Singapore’s national telecom Singtel.

Tony Burnside, Vice President for Netskope Asia Pacific, comments that the company’s move shows that Netskope is a “champion for the modern workforce”. 

“With this NewEdge expansion to Singapore, Netskope is enabling organisations to securely scale their businesses without sacrificing speed or performance,” he added.

Improved performance cloud security services by Netskope NewEdge also means smoother operations for data centers not only in Singapore but also surrounding Southeast Asian countries including Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines.

According to a survey by cybersecurity company Palo Alto Networks Indonesia, Southeast Asian countries are becoming more aware of the importance of cybersecurity and protection from cyber threats.

Surung Sinamo, Country Manager of Palo Alto Networks Indonesia who conducted the report, said that 400 leaders of tech companies from Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Singapore are becoming more aware of the importance of preventing and thwarting cyber attacks that can potentially disrupt businesses, as we have seen in the last few years.

Microsoft partners with Singapore Government to boost employment and upskilling

Microsoft and non-profit organisation Generation are partnering with Government agencies in Singapore to upskill and open up tech jobs for Singaporeans.

Named #GetReadySG, this latest job upskilling initiative is launched as part of the Government’s SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package.

Mainly aimed at fresh graduates and mid-career Singaporeans, it will train and provide up to 1,000 in-demand tech jobs to support the local tech industry.

Microsoft and Generation will work with Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), its sister organisation Digital Industry Singapore (DISG), and SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) on this initiative.

Lew Chuen Hong, Chief Executive of IMDA, highlighted that #GetReadySG will impart hard skills such as cloud architecture and data analytics engineering, as well as important soft skills like cross-cultural teamwork and communication.

“This will enable Singaporeans to better seize the exciting opportunities across our growing digital economy,” he said.

Generation will be in charge of devising the course structure for the programs, whereas Microsoft will make use of its wide network of partners and help candidates to secure employment after training.

Mr. Prateek Hegde, CEO of Generation Singapore and COO of Generation APAC, pointed out that while his organisation’s main commitment is to serve jobseekers in need, Generation recognises that by having access to a highly skilled talent pool, the tech industry as a whole benefits.

“We continue to hear from companies that it is difficult to find the right tech talent, while jobseekers continue to report on barriers to employment – such as lack of specific domain skills and relevant certifications. This programme is designed to effectively bridge this gap and help more Singaporeans who require such support to launch their careers in tech-enabled roles,” added Mr. Hegde.

Singapore’s future-ready preparations

Singapore has been at the forefront of introducing new tech programs on the policy level to supercharge its status as Asia’s post pandemic digital hub. In November, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced the launch of Tech.Pass, a new visa that allows professionals from all around the world to come to Singapore and grow their tech business.

#GetReadySG will have two streams for eligible candidates. The first stream, a hire and train program offered by SSG, will see up to 300 Singaporeans being selected and offered paid training for nine months. They will receive training for in-demand tech skills, including full stack development, data engineering and analysis, cloud support, and DevOps practitioning.

The second stream, the mid-career pathways program, will allow mid-career job seekers to work under a structured, full-time apprenticeship with a Microsoft partner to learn the necessary tech skills. Up to 700 professionals will be selected, and a monthly allowance of $1,500 will be given. This stream is offered by Microsoft, Generation, SSG, and Temasek Polytechnic.

“What makes #GetReadySG different from other skilling programmes is that it brings together the best of what Microsoft, IMDA, SSG, DISG and Generation have to offer in terms of resources, expertise and technical knowledge,” said Mr. Kevin Wo, Managing Director of Microsoft Singapore.

“COVID-19 has accelerated the need for these upskilling efforts – hence it is more important than ever that we embark on this national skills initiative,” he continued.

On top of that, Microsoft will also be partnering with SSG for the latter’s Queen Bee program, an initiative that matches industry leaders with small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Singapore to grow the local business ecosystem.

Mr Ong Tze Ch’in, Chief Executive of SSG, expressed delight at Microsoft’s active involvement in Singapore’s SME transformation scene.

“This [partnership] will help SMEs strengthen their capabilities and to help drive up employer participation in the development of their workforce,” he noted.

Standard Chartered Bank will also be a part of the #GetReadySG initiative to nurture a pipeline of homegrown ‘techno-bankers’ for the future.

“This is very much aligned to our commitment as a Significantly Rooted Foreign Bank in Singapore to invest for growth, continuously reskill our workforce and build a strong Singapore Core to ensure future competitiveness,” said Charlotte Thng, the Head of HR for Singapore, Australia and ASA Cluster Markets at Standard Chartered Bank.

Registration for the first stream opens in January 2021, and registration for the second stream opens in mid-December 2020.

Equinix to open fifth data center in Singapore

Global data center giant Equinix has announced that it will open a fifth data center in Singapore. 

Named SG5, the International Business Exchange (IBX) data center will cost $144 million in its first phase, providing a capacity of 1,300 cabinets in 18,400 square feet of colocation space. Upon completion in the first half of 2021, it will have up to 5,000 cabinets in a 129,000 square feet space.

“As the global economy and the Asia Pacific region continue to grow, we see a strong demand for digital infrastructure to support business growth. This is especially evident in Singapore, which is proving to be a key hub for digital business in the region,” said Jeremy Deutsch, President of Equinix Asia-Pacific.

The new facility in the Tanjong Kling data center park is expected to  meet growing demand for cloud connectivity for enterprises as they transform digitally.

“The SG5 IBX data center aims to create more opportunities for enterprises in the region to build a strong digital foundation, enabling them to develop into the digital leaders of tomorrow,” Mr. Deutsch added.

Singapore’s tech ambition

Equinix’s expansion in Singapore is timely, and in line with the government’s grand plan to steer the country towards greater digitalisation. In November, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong introduced a special tech pass to attract tech professionals from around the world to Singapore.

SG5 is aligned with Singapore’s Smart Nation initiative, and will be directly connected to Equinix’s four existing data centers via low-latency dark fiber links to connect more than 705 companies in the market.

“Singapore continues to thrive as a regional digital hub despite current pandemic and economic challenges. We are catering to the needs and demands of our customers by expanding our local footprint to enable regional and global growth as Singapore continues its Smart Nation journey and enterprises pursue digital transformation,” said Yee May Leong, the Managing Director for Equinix South Asia.

Meeting Equinix’s long-term goal of using 100% clean and renewable energy, SG5 will be built as a green facility, adopting clean and efficient energy systems, including motion-activated LED lights, automated control and regulation of motors, and hot aisle containment and ceiling plenum infrastructure.

For its cooling system, SG5 will be using NEWater, high-grade recycled water by Singapore’s Public Utilities Board.

“Digital infrastructure is key to success and competitive advantage for enterprises in the next normal. IDC’s CEO research in early 2020 showed that the leading priority among CEOs in Asia-Pacific is building a digital IT infrastructure that supports resilient operations and pervasive experiences,” revealed Sandra Ng, Group Vice President of Practice Group at IDC Asia Pacific.

By 2023, cloud and IT services are expected to lead digital growth in the Asia Pacific region, reaching an anticipated 1,374 Tbps.

By Ong Jie Yee, Tech Reporter

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Servian expands into Singapore to address urgent need for digital transformation in Southeast Asia

Servian, one of Australia’s leading IT consultancies, announced it is expanding into Singapore, bringing its expertise in cloud, data, machine learning, DevOps and cybersecurity to the local and regional market.

The expansion comes off the back of an urgent need for companies within the region to digitalise in order to remain competitive in the current environment.

At the Future Economy Conference and Exhibition, Singapore’s Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing stressed the importance of digital transformation in helping rebuild the new economy. He said Singapore’s position on the world stage hangs on businesses’ ability to adapt, with now being the time to re-engineer processes.

New research from DBS Bank supports this, revealing that Southeast Asia is falling behind its US and UK counterparts in digital strategy. Almost all businesses surveyed in the region said they faced external pressure to transform digitally, with challenges including speed of change, execution complexity and lack of digital talent.

“Organisations recognise where they need to get to, they just don’t seem to know how to get there,” said Pete Gatt, Partner & Singapore Expansion Lead at Servian.

Servian works with clients in multiple sectors across the region, assisting them in deploying data-driven, cloud-based solutions to enable them to evolve at speed.

“Having worked with hundreds of organisations in different segments, verticals and of varying sizes, the conversation is always the same. They want to take advantage of data to make money and they want to optimise their operations to save money, with technology now at the heart of that conversation,” added Mr. Gatt.

Among others, the company has worked on a Singapore Government project for GovTech to build security and Infrastructure as Code (IaC) capabilities, providing teams with the skills and reference architectures for IaC in cloud environments.

Servian’s new operation in Southeast Asia will offer its suite of technology-agnostic advisory, consulting and managed services to SMEs whose digital transformation efforts can be hampered by fear of complexity and cost.

The company has close partnerships with technology retailers including Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure and Hashicorp.

Rackspace targets Southeast Asia market with Singapore expansion

Rackspace has opened a new office space in Singapore to target the growing demand for managed cloud services in Southeast Asia.

The US-based cloud computing company has moved into One Raffles Place in the heart of Singapore’s central business district, quadrupling the size of its office.

“Moving to the cloud gives businesses greater efficiency and productivity in the face of the changes we are experiencing on the economic and social fronts. This is particularly important at a time when organisations are looking at cost optimisation in response to budget pressures,” said Rackspace.

With the larger office space, Rackspace expects to grow its headcount in Singapore by 25% this year. But as of Wednesday 21 October, Rackspace does not currently list under its locations on their job site.

Through the expansion, Rackspace hopes to develop deeper relationships with local customers at a time when many organisations are using more cloud services amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The greatest challenges organisations will face are associated with how prepared they are to deal with remote working initiatives as well as to take advantage of the smart nation programmes being rolled out in the region,” said Sandeep Bhargava, Rackspace’s Managing Director for Asia Pacific and Japan.

A recent Rackspace survey found that 35% of IT decision-makers in Singapore lack a basic understanding of what cloud cost governance and cloud cost optimisation are, and how they differ.

“A cloud-first strategy has become the foundation that enables businesses to transform, differentiate and gain competitive advantage. More than ever, businesses need help to benefit from greater operational simplicity, better support, lower costs and improved security,” added Mr. Bhargava.

Rackspace’s Service Blocks, a six module managed and professional service, is believed to help address the challenges faced by businesses in Southeast Asia by enabling organisations to leverage cloud technologies without having to recruit and train talent, according to Bernard L’Allier, Rackspace’s Managing Director for Southeast Asia.

Rackspace’s expansion in Singapore follows both ByteDance and Tencent’s moves in the city-state.

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Keppel DC REIT to be included in Straits Times Index

Keppel DC REIT will be included in the benchmark Straits Times Index with effect from Monday 19 October.

The Straits Times Index is a highly diversified benchmark for the Singapore stock market, consisting of 30 of its largest capitalised and most actively traded stocks.

Mr. Chua Hsien Yang, CEO of Keppel DC REIT Management, said: “The inclusion of Keppel DC REIT in the STI marks an important milestone for Keppel DC REIT since its listing on the Singapore Exchange. This is testament to Keppel DC REIT’s growth and will further increase our visibility among global investors, as well as enhance our trading liquidity.”

Keppel DC REIT, the largest stock on the Straits Times Index reserve list was listed in December 2014 as Asia’s first pure-play data center REIT, with eight assets across six countries and assets under management of approximately $1 billion.

Today, the REIT’s AUM has grown significantly to approximately $2.8 billion, with 18 assets in eight countries across Asia Pacific and Europe.

Unitholders who invested in Keppel DC REIT since its initial public offering would have seen a total unitholder return of approximately 338% as of 15 October 2020, and approximately 47% year-to-date.

Keppel DC REIT is a constituent of the FTSE EPRA Nareit Global Developed Index, MSCI Singapore Small Cap Index and the GPR 250 Index Series.

The Straits Times Index took a hit and extended its losses from Wednesday 14 October, with a fall of 1.25% as a result of ‘grim news surrounding Brexit, a resurgence in COVID-19 cases in Europe and the lack of progress on United States stimulus measures. But it rebounded slightly on Saturday 17 October, climbing 0.37%.

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Explore the latest for cloud and data centers in Singapore

Singapore has one of the most dominant tech industries in Asia, with advancements happening almost daily.

So, what can you expect from a hub market, the downstream opportunities to the edge markets, and the innovation of technology in the space of Cloud Computing, connectivity, cybersecurity and data centers?

Register now to explore what the future holds for cloud and data centers in Singapore at our Digital Summit

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Tencent’s first office in Singapore: co-working space in central commercial hub

Chinese tech giant Tencent has chosen a co-working space in Singapore as its first office in the city-state.

Tencent, the owner of China’s top social messaging app WeChat, will occupy around 200 seats at OCBC Centre East in Raffles Place, the commercial hub in central Singapore. The co-working space amounts to approximately 10,000 square feet.

Tencent has stated in September that it would open an office in Singapore in the near future. In the meantime, this co-working space will run on a one-year lease, allowing the company more flexibility, and perhaps more time to scout for an ideal location before it officially opens its doors.

Singapore: Asia’s new tech hub  

Singapore is fast becoming the new digital hub for tech giants in Asia. Political unrest in Hong Kong and tensions with the US and India has made the island state an attractive destination for Chinese tech hubs to springboard their operations in Southeast Asia. 

Earlier this year, Zoom launched its first data center in Singapore. TikTok’s parent company ByteDance will also be investing billions to expand its operations in Singapore, and will be moving to a larger office space at One Raffles Quay, near Tencent’s co-working space at Raffles Place.

In May, E-commerce heavyweight Alibaba bought a 50% stake in AXA Tower located in Tanjong Pagar, aiming to rival Southeast Asia’s main e-commerce player Lazada.

Tencent’s entry will add to fierce tech competition in the country — but for Singapore’s economy, it is good news.

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Thailand’s CMKL University to accelerate AI research with NVIDIA

Thailand’s CMKL University has reached an agreement with IT hardware giant NVIDIA to drive artificial intelligence growth through NVIDIA’s DGX POD. 

CMKL University will set up an AI computing cluster and an AI analytics platform to support data exchange and competency building in Thailand. 

“NVIDIA DGX POD delivers groundbreaking performance that is designed to accelerate diverse AI training, inference and data science workloads. It will help accelerate CMKL University’s research to develop solutions that will benefit not just Thailand but also Southeast Asia and the world,” said Dennis Ang, Director of Enterprise Business for the SEA and ANZ Region at NVIDIA.

Established as a collaboration between Carnegie Mellon University and King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Ladkrabang, CMKL University provides cutting-edge engineering research and education in Southeast Asia.

“The platform that we are developing will allow researchers to store and manage their datasets with ease. They will be able to exchange their data with other researchers, and utilise the cloud HPC infrastructure to run machine learning codes and models at lightning speeds,” said Akkarit Sangpetch, CMKM Program Director (Thailand) at CMKL University.

The university’s new infrastructure will be modelled after NVIDIA’s DGX POD design and consists of six NVIDIA GDX A100 AI systems delivering 30 petaflops of AI processing power, as well as a range of the company’s other products such as NVIDIA Cumulus networking software, NVIDIA Mellanox Spectrum 100GbE and Quantum 200Gbps InfiniBand smart switches.

The system will deliver up to a 20x performance boost, which is greatly beneficial for AI projects such as automated speech recognition research that needs to collect and process 1,000 hours of voice input, and a bottle recycling model that contains 600,000 high-resolution images.

“This platform will accelerate AI work in various research and development fields to create substantial positive impacts on society. Examples are an increase in quality of life in cities through better management and logistics; better optimization of circular infrastructure, consumer insights, and biomedical research; and an increase in the quality and quantity of crop yields countrywide,” said Mr. Sangpetch.

Backing the project is Thailand’s Office of National Higher Education Science Research and Innovation Policy Council (NXPO), an autonomous public agency affiliated to the Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation.

NXPO looks to increase Thailand’s growth and level of competitiveness, and enhance its socioeconomic sustainability through technology and innovation strategic plans.

The Program Management Unit for Thailand’s Competitiveness will also be involved in providing the funding and support for this world-class research and initiative.

“Together with CMKL University and the new AI Infrastructure, the office looks forward to developing resilient economies in the age of AI,” said NXPO.

Aside from NVIDIA’s DGX POD, CMKL University also plans to use NVIDIA’s Jetson AGX Xavier and Jetson Nano, and is considering an extended cloud-edge processing model.

The plan is to make NVIDIA’s hardware central computing nodes that connect to research and university nodes across the country.

Earlier this year, Vietnam’s first artificial intelligence research lab, VinAI Research, claimed to be the first in Southeast Asia to deploy the newly-launched NVIDIA DGX A100 data center solution.

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How to optimise database workloads to do more with less in the new normal?

It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has shaken up enterprises and their work structures, with many being forced to enact digital transformation projects or further digitalise their operations.

This has increased the need for larger, more powerful and agile data storage solutions. Many have turned to migrating their workloads to the cloud to solve issues of scalability and flexibility.

But simply adopting new cloud technologies does not guarantee cost and time efficiency, as legacy application development models can burden systems and hinder digital transformation. That’s why data center consolidation is one of the next crucial steps needed to maximise your organisation’s capacity and agility.

“More than ever, enterprises need to maximise their technology investments to bring simplicity to their cloud operations and infrastructure,” said Vaughn Stewart, the Vice President of Technology Alliance Partners at Pure Storage.

Countries in Southeast Asia may lag behind countries in other regions for their cloud agility, which could in fact present opportunities to reposition existing infrastructures to leapfrog the competition and take advantage of opportunities in cloud technology.

On Thursday 22 October, we will be joined by the Pure Storage team to focus on how your business can reduce costs, streamline your systems and optimise performance agility in your workloads to effectively do more with less.

Optimising Oracle workloads to do more with less in the new norm

Recent economic volatility has revealed the ways in which traditional infrastructure can leave even the most robust enterprises on their backfoot when a shakeup in work structures occurs.

Following an introduction from Chua Hock Leng, the Managing Director for ASEAN at Pure Storage, we will take a look at how you can optimise Oracle Cloud workloads with Danny Higgins, the Head of the APJ Solution Architects team at Pure Storage.

Practicalities in Managing and Migrating Database Workloads

With so many digital infrastructure solutions available like on-premise, hybrid cloud, public cloud and private cloud, knowing how to successfully manage and migrate your database workloads is paramount.

In a panel session complete with industry experts, we will take a look at the key considerations to determine whether your database is suitable for the cloud and the potential risks of migration, and solutions to mitigate them, when these databases are mission-critical.

Joining Danny Higgins will be Rodelio Medrano, the Storage Team Lead for the Cloud Collaboration and Architecture Team at GlobalFoundries, and Aaron Tan Dani, the Chairman of IASA Asia Pacific.

> Register now for Pure Storage’s ‘The new norm: Optimizing database workloads to do more with less’

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Spending on data centers almost at all-time high, says Synergy

Market intelligence firm Synergy Research Group’s new data shows that worldwide spend on data centers saw a 7% uptick in Q2 2020, reaching US$41.4 billion in revenue.

This is thanks to a 25% jump in spending on public cloud infrastructure from Q2 2019, which almost pushed it to an all-time high. But enterprise spending dropped slightly by 3%.

Original design manufacturers (ODMs) of cloud infrastructure dominate the public cloud market share, with Inspur as the leading individual vendor, followed by Dell, Microsoft and Huawei.

Enterprise market share, on the other hand, sees Microsoft as the market leader, followed by Dell, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Cisco and VMware.

 

 

As predicted, the COVID-19 pandemic was the main driver behind record spending on data center infrastructures.

“In the middle of a global pandemic, spending on data center infrastructure was almost at an all-time high – second only to the fourth quarter of 2019. That speaks volumes about the continued robust growth in both enterprise and consumer cloud services,” said Synergy Research Group’s Chief Analyst, John Dinsdale.

The main hardware-oriented segments of servers, storage and networking in aggregate accounted for 75% of the data center infrastructure market, with OS, virtualisation software, cloud management and network security account making up the other 25%.

By segment, Dell is the leader in server and storage revenues, while Cisco is dominant in the networking segment. 

Microsoft features heavily in the rankings due to its position in server OS and virtualization applications. Outside of these three, the other leading vendors in the market are HPE, Inspur, Huawei, VMware, Lenovo and IBM.

According to Mr. Dinsdale, China is the breakout player in the market, as its cloud spending jumped almost 35% from Q2 last year. 

Chinese data center operator Chindata’s success in raising over US$500 million for its IPO in the US shows the country’s determination to play a bigger role in the global cloud infrastructure market.

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Cybersecurity: Bank of Philippines Islands takes down 10 phishing sites a day during COVID-19 pandemic

The Philippines’ national bank, Bank of the Philippines Islands (BPI), revealed it took down at least 10 phishing sites per day, as cybersecurity threats rise during the COVID-19 pandemic.

From March to August, the country has seen a sharp rise in COVID-19-related cyberattacks, according to the Bank.

“They send out malicious emails with COVID-19 themes to steal information and put up fake crowdfunding pages for supposedly personal protective equipment donations,” said BPI Executive Vice President, Ramon Jocson.

To date, the Bank has taken down over 2,000 phishing sites, many of which are local scammers targeting fellow Filipinos.

Cybersecurity in the Philippines

Like many countries all around the world, the Philippines is dealing with a surge in cybersecurity threats from unknown cybercriminals. As the country’s workforce retreats to remote work, the BPI has vowed to up cybersecurity measures to protect its employees and customers from online scams.

“On our non-technical side, we heavily count on the infomercials that we post on social media channels to inform clients about the different fraud schemes that have sprung up,” continued Jocson.

The BPI also provides tips on how to remain cyber safe, secure and smart during the pandemic.

“We try to detect abnormal behaviors. We track close to 22,000 events per second — every ATM withdrawal, log on and so forth — and we have analytics to track any aberrant behavior,” he added.

In September, seeing the rise in cybersecurity threats, Philippines conglomerate MVP Group established the private sector’s first Cybersecurity Council. Last month, Facebook revealed that it took down fake accounts spreading political misinformation, a handful of which were linked to government entities in the Philippines.

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How will Industry 4.0 tech change the legal profession?

With COVID-19 causing disruption to much of 2020, many industries are digitally transforming to remain connected and continue operations, and the legal profession is no exception.

Lawyers on the cloud

Traditional law firms and labour models of law firms are encumbered by routine legal work and mundane day-to-day administrative tasks. For lawyers who deal with such tasks, it distracts them from the core legal matter at hand, affecting their quality of work. For clients, a law firm spending time handling “grunt work” also means that they would be billed at a costly rate, paying hundreds or thousands for what is essentially paperwork.

With the global pandemic we are facing, such inefficiencies are compounded. Thus, law firms see an urgent need to reform the traditional mode of engagement and speed up operations while adapting to the future of work. And legal tech firms found a gap in the market and filled it.

Legal tech firms such as InCloudCounsel, who recently opened their first office in the Asia Pacific region, incorporate a range of cloud computing services and artificial intelligence (AI) to assist lawyers with routine transactional work. Negotiation and management of non-disclosure agreements, vendor contracts, sales and services agreements would be handled by technology. 

The outcome could be a win-win solution for all. Lawyers are no longer held back by geographical and time constraints, and petty legal matters, while clients could anticipate being billed less for routine legal work.

When lawyers offer their services on the cloud, these may be streamlined and highly tailored to your case’s needs. Perhaps the biggest advantage that legal tech firms can offer is transparency at a degree that is previously unheard of. Cloud-based case management platforms used by legal tech companies allow clients to track the progress of case negotiations in real-time very much like tracking your parcel and waiting for it to be delivered. 

These cloud platforms will then safely store the data when the case is resolved, a potentially better option than filing a case in an office folder and tucking it away in an unknown corner.

Blurring of work boundaries

Enabled by AI, some legal tech firms are also leaning towards delivering data-driven services, something that was almost impossible before the advent of cloud technology.

This year, AI made a historic, yet controversial, appearance in Malaysia’s justice system to assist in crunching data and sentencing during two drug cases. Machine learning can make a very manual process more efficient by automatically developing “mappings” between data sources and the application’s data repository. This cuts down integration and aggregation times.

Data extraction systems are able to collect and process data from hundreds of case precedents. And while IT infrastructures in legal tech firms may only be restricted to routine legal work, when an AI obtains new knowledge through large input and evolves to take on more complex tasks, to what extent will its work encroach on that of a lawyer? So, the question to ask is: Who is really doing the work here? The man or the machine?

At the same time, some standing against legal tech argue that although technology is doing more than ever before for lawyers, at the end of the day, the legal profession still needs a ‘human touch’. In other words, the law still relies on expert knowledge to interpret and apply them onto cases in order to correctly deliver justice.

Nobody has an answer to whether or not this is a good thing, but one trend that  is that the job scope of lawyers is slowly being redrawn, and lawyers have to refine existing skills to keep up with the times.

The Future of Legal Tech

The legal profession is one of few fields that is relatively slow in embracing the new normal. But as COVID-19 leaves no industry unaffected, perhaps it is time for lawyers and judges to usher in change and hop onto the cloud. 

The marriage between law and tech signals a need for lawyers to further diversify their skills. The entrance of, for example, data scientists, computer scientists and software engineers indicate that in-house legal professionals would perhaps need to expand their knowledge beyond law books and desktop research in order to thrive in a diverse workplace.

Lawyers not only have to interact with smart technology, but they now have to interact with other specialists across different industries. Cloud computing and AI has the potential to revolutionise the legal industry, and it is only by continually upgrading oneself that one would be able to survive in a post-pandemic digital world.

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Honeywell and Vertiv team up to tackle data center sustainability across the globe

Honeywell and Vertiv are joining forces to create more sustainable and efficient data center operations.

This will be the first joint effort to combine intelligent selection of energy resources with centralised visibility of operations and infrastructure to help reduce energy use.

Honeywell, a global leader in connected building, and Vertiv, a global provider of critical digital infrastructure and continuity solutions, will work together to create integrated solutions to optimise data center sustainability, resiliency and operational performance.

“Data centers face similar challenges as other buildings that have disparate systems that were not designed to work together, but they experience these challenges on a greater scale,” said Vimal Kapur, the President and CEO of Honeywell Building Technologies.

The partnership combines Honeywell’s building management systems and operational software, and safety and security products with Vertiv’s uninterruptible power supply, power distribution, thermal management and modular solutions to enable various data center operators to integrate multiple domains of data within a data center.

“We look forward to collaborating with Vertiv to offer integrated solutions that make it easier for data center operators to distill the mountains of data they pull from their equipment into actions that create more efficient and environmentally friendly operations,” added Mr. Kapur.

The companies will leverage building-operations data to drive optimisation of operations, reducing energy use and costs, whilst improving data center performance and sustainability.

Data centers help enable the online applications that people depend on for work, entertainment and communications, but they require significant power to move information around the world.

“There is need and opportunity for data centers to be more efficient, reliable and sustainable,” said Rob Johnson, the CEO of Vertiv. 

Keeping businesses online is becoming increasingly critical, especially as many organisations have been forced to digitalise and enact remote working policies due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Business continuity is more critical than ever, with more people working, learning and connecting remotely, driving a simultaneous explosion in data and demand for new data centers,” added Mr. Johnson.

Honeywell and Vertiv will target operators of hyperscale, large enterprise, colocation and edge data centers.

Data centers in 2018 consumed approximately 1% of the world’s energy use. And while the industry has made great strides to reduce and offset energy demands, including increasing the utilisation of renewable energy, more work can be done toward a more sustainable and carbon-neutral future, according to Honeywell and Vertiv.

“Our collaboration with Honeywell will help us to collectively better serve our data center customers. Our offerings complement each other to provide greater value to data center operators,” concluded Mr. Johnson.

Honeywell and Vertiv’s first offering

Honeywell and Vertiv’s first focus will be on microgrid solutions for data centers to enable more efficient integration of alternative energy sources such as solar arrays, fuel cells and batteries, and to provide a scalable approach for operators to quickly enhance functionality and improve total cost of ownership.

This solution will take the form of an intelligent power management solution that features an energy resource management and supervisory control system in a single, integrated platform.

By combining energy storage, analytics, forecasting and economic optimisation, the solution is said to provide data centers with intelligent and autonomous selection of energy sources and grid services to operate a data center load and reduce energy costs while maintaining uptime requirements.

The solution could help data centers meet availability requirements, while optimising energy costs, meeting corporate sustainability goals and reducing overall carbon footprint. It may also allow operators to better manage sustainability targets and account for external risk factors such as weather and grid reliability.

With data centers using a large amount of power for thermal management, building systems and physical security, this can increase the risk of costly and detrimental downtime.

The new scalable and easy-to-implement intelligent power management solution from Honeywell and Vertiv is designed to enable remote monitoring and maintenance, reduce costs, eliminate redundancy and improve power usage effectiveness, for which data center operators strive to meet the ideal 1.0 PUE.

The solutions by Honeywell and Vertiv are expected to be available this year.

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ByteDance moving to bigger office amid billion dollar investment plan in Singapore

ByteDance, the owner of TikTok, is set to move to a bigger office in Singapore after reportedly planning to invest billions of dollars and recruit hundreds in the country.

The Chinese multinational has signed an agreement to lease three floors measuring over 60,000 square feet at One Raffles Quay, according to people familiar with the plan.

The office expansion will pave the way for ByteDance to make Singapore its beachhead for the rest of Asia.

Controlled by billionaire Zhang Yiming, ByteDance is pushing its social media service across Asia following setbacks in India, the UK and the USA, where Chinese tech companies are facing growing hostility amid security concerns.

The new office is being refurbished and it’s likely that employees will make the move by the first quarter of next year and will be informed about it later this month or November.

The Chinese tech firm’s move in Singapore coincides with other tech giants’ plans to expand in Singapore, including Tencent.

Singapore is seen as an attractive base for both Western and Asian firms because of its political stability, developed financial and legal system, especially as its rival Hong Kong is still grappling with upheaval and China’s tightening grip.

Bytedance’s move to One Raffles Quay, which is jointly owned by Hong Kong Land Holdings, Keppel REIT and Suntec REIT, will be a boost to the office building since its anchor tenant, UBS Group, is moving out after securing another office space to consolidate its operations in Singapore. 

Bytedance currently has a shared space at one of the floors in Asia Square Tower 1, which is owned by Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund.

The tech firm currently has more than 200 job openings in Singapore, for positions from data analysts to product policy and legal counsel. Some of the positions are based in the city, but will deal with issues in other Southeast Asian countries, according to its career site.

Southeast Asia is a primary target for Zhang Yiming, the founder of ByteDance, as the region has 650 million smartphone-savvy population where competitors Alibaba and Tencent are making significant inroads.

In other news, Chindata Group, a carrier-neutral hyperscale data center solution provider in Asia Pacific, confirmed on 9 September 2020 it will publicly file an initial public offering in the United States of America. 

In the filing, ByteDance accounted for 68.2% and 81.6% of Chindata’s total revenues in 2019 and for the first six months of June respectively. In 2019, the revenue from ByteDance was at US$82.3 million, and in the first six months of 2020 alone, ByteDance accounted for US$93.6 million of Chindata’s revenue.

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DICT calls for increased Philippines national broadband budget

Despite possible savings of US$15.4 million in 2021 alone, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) has had to continue calls for an increased national broadband budget.

Reiterating the need for a Government-owned broadband network to improve Internet quality, coverage and affordability, the DICT appealed to the Senate for an additional budget of US$842 million (18 billion pesos) to complete the network through the National Broadband Program (NBP).

Senator Imee Marcos supported the DICT’s call, citing other countries’ success in improving Internet services through a national broadband network.

“Until today, the government has not invested in ICT unlike the other countries in ASEAN where it is nationally and publicly owned, we are entirely reliant on commercial investment,” said Senator Imee Marcos.

“And then we complain when they fall apart or they fail us or they are expensive and raise rates wantonly when in fact they don’t belong to us,” he added.

The 2021 National Expenditure Program-approved budget for the DICT’s NBP is only at US$42.2 million (902 million pesos).

“I would like to support some augmentation for the DICT (budget) given that the only jobs available are online. Our entire educational system is reliant on the online capacities and even the senate is depending only upon our Internet,” Senator Marcos added.

Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) reiterated the need for a Government-owned broadband network. He noted that in other countries, governments are the ones that spend capital expenditure and build infrastructure, and all telcos just lease from the national government.

“That is the model that is being used in other countries, so their service is pretty good. They have no problem with the right of way and they also have no problem with permits because it is the national government that is doing all of that,” said Commissioner Cordoba.

The DICT said it is high time for the government to prioritise ICT programs as the country transitions to the new normal.

“We accept the fact that the appreciation of the government sector for ICT being the future is still limited. What you want is what you can handle, roads, bridges, those that are physical. That’s the infrastructure component. But from where we see it, we believe that we can actually do these simultaneously,” said DICT Secretary Gregorio B. Honasan II.

DICT Assistant Secretary for Digital Philippines, Emmanuel Rey Caintic, explained that the completion of the NBP will result in cheaper and better Internet service quality. He said the Internet in the country is expensive because telecommunications companies like DITO, Globe, PLDT and the new NOW Telecom spend much capital in building ICT infrastructure to deliver Internet services.

Secretary Caintic suggested it will be beneficial if the spectrum users fee that the telcos pay to the Government was reinvested in creating a digital infrastructure.

“The Internet is expensive because the deployment of fibre where towers will be linked is similarly costly. So, if the Government is to deploy fibres, so that Smart, Globe, and DITO can connect to our fibres and distribute Internet to residential areas. We do not wish to compete with the private sector market,” said Secretary Caintic.

Senator Panfilo Lacson, Vice Chairperson for the Senate Committee on Finance, also expressed his support for the immediate completion of the NBP.

“This is the backbone of the economy. In this day and age of modern information technology, we have no reason to not catch up or be at par with the neighboring countries considering that investors look at Internet speed, among the factors considered for investment,” said Senator Lacson.

In comparison to neighbouring countries, the Philippines has a lower budget for its National Broadband Network. Indonesia is reported to have allocated over US$22 billion for its 5-year plan, Vietnam allocated US$820 million on a 23,000km system submarine cable, Singapore is improving their networks by spending US$550 million, while Australia and New Zealand have allocated around US$37 billion and US$1.19 billion, respectively.

For the DICT, ‘South Korea, one of the countries in the world with the fastest Internet, is a model country for those who aspire to improve their Internet connectivity’. In 1995, the Government of South Korea initiated the Korean Information Infrastructure Project, a 10-year program that started with laying internet infrastructure between government buildings.

In 1995, South Korea had only one Internet user for every one hundred citizens, but by 2002, the country had increased this to around 55 Internet users per hundred citizens.

The South Korean Government allocated US$27.6 billion to build a national broadband backbone network, mainly through optical fibre cables, and was able to roll out country-wide broadband by 1998.

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Nintex completes acquisition of K2 Software to become ‘world’s largest private process automation provider’

Workflow automation services vendor Nintex announced that it has completed its acquisition of US-based K2 Software Inc., a low-code process automation platform.

This acquisition makes Nintex the world’s largest privately-held process automation software vendor.

“It’s exciting to officially bring two technology innovators together to help organizations everywhere solve their process problems and automate work with easy-to-use and powerful software solutions,” said Nintex CEO Eric Johnson.

Nintex is expected to scale K2’s medium-to-high-level process automation technology to expand its global footprint. K2’s strong presence and capabilities in Europe will also help Nintex enhance its partner ecosystem in the region.

“We look forward to providing our customers and partners with more new and innovative solutions that truly do improve the way people work,” added Mr. Johnson.

K2 is Nintex’s third acquisition since Thoma Bravo became the company’s majority investor in early 2018.

K2 is said to have thrived in the area of medium-to medium-high-level process automation complexity. Nintex has thrived at the wide end of the DPA market, with a huge customer base, many of which have deployed thousands of applications on the platform.

“Rapidly growing markets offer great opportunities as well as risk. When SharePoint exploded in the 2008 time frame, both Nintex and K2 leveraged the moment and grew rapidly. As we now face another huge market shift, the two will have the opportunity to do it again as teammates instead of competitors,” wrote Principal Analyst and VP for Forrester, Rob Koplowitz.

Nintex serves half of the Fortune 500 companies and generates over US$200 million in annual revenue.

“Nintex’s growth strategy is paying off and this move will further accelerate its plan to become one of the largest providers of process automation. While both firms have geographic distribution, K2 has some strong capabilities in Europe that will help to enhance the overall Nintex global customer community and partner ecosystem,” said Aragon CEO and Lead Analyst, Jim Lundy,

K2 has 1.5 million users in 84 countries and currently serves several high-profile clients including Microsoft and Louis Vuitton’s parent company LVMH. Therefore, the acquisition is set to be mutually beneficial to both companies and their portfolio of clients.

“Combining K2 with Nintex expands the total addressable market available to Nintex as K2’s portfolio brings in the ability to work with more complex data types as well as case management. This combination also shores up the company’s position as a leading provider of process automation and workflow tools running on Azure,” said IDC Program VP for Integration and Process Automation, Maureen Fleming.

Microsoft leveraged K2 Five to build an automated solution to handle the content publication process for Microsoft.com and its global team that operates over 450 eCommerce sites. Microsoft efficiently streamlined the product promotion process, saving time, and reducing publishing errors by ensuring the right content and asset information is captured from the initial request and accurately represented across its digital stores in 240 markets.

Terms of the deal between Nintex and K2 will not be disclosed.

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Nokia shuts down data centers and moves to Google Cloud

Nokia has signed an agreement with tech giant Google to migrate its data centers, servers and software applications onto Google Cloud.

The five-year deal will see Nokia use Google Cloud’s suite of cloud products and features to exit its IT data centres and servers smoothly and swiftly, while Google will deploy its systems integrators, solutions specialists, and engineers to assist Nokia in the migration process.

“We are excited to help Nokia revamp its IT infrastructure with our backbone network and our approach to data security, using advanced software-defined networking,” said Rob Enslin, President of Google Cloud.

The deal is in line with Nokia’s shift to a cloud-first strategy and aggressive efforts to transform its global digital operations to expand innovation capabilities.

“We look forward to providing the full menu of our capabilities to help Nokia deliver on its cloud-first strategy and reach its performance requirements,” added Mr. Enslin.

Google Cloud will bring its technologies, including networking and data analytics, to revamp Nokia’s IT infrastructure; this will not only help Nokia enhance its performance as a company but also decrease its carbon footprint.

“Nokia is on a digital transformation path that is about fundamentally changing how we operate and do business. This is crucial for how our employees collaborate so that we continue to raise the bar on meeting the needs of our customers,” said Ravi Parmasad, Vice President of Global IT Infrastructure at Nokia. 

The agreement is expected to drive meaningful operational efficiencies and cost savings over time due to a reduction in real estate footprint, hardware energy consumption, and hardware capacity purchasing needs.

“We are very pleased that Google Cloud, with its engineering and operational excellence, is joining our transformation work to help us deliver on the many goals we have set,” commented Mr. Parmasad.

Nokia and Google Cloud have worked together for the past few months to design a customised migration approach that will allow Nokia to exit its IT data centers on a rapid schedule, while minimising business impact and setting a strong foundation for the future. 

“Given Nokia’s digital ambitions and plans, this is an ideal time for Nokia to be taking this step with Google Cloud to accelerate our efforts; and doing all of this in a secure and scalable way,” said Mr. Parmasad.

Nokia’s migration onto Google’s public cloud and software-as-a-service models has already started, and is expected to extend over 18 to 24 months.

In September, Equinix announced a partnership with Nokia to bring next-generation edge architectures and services to market, particularly as 5G is expected to increase the need for edge data centers.

Nokia has been aggressive in its 5G strategy with more than 100 deals across the world, particularly as their rival Huawei is being pushed out of countries like the United Kingdom and the United States.

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Teradata Vantage ‘only data warehouse to provide software across on-premises, hybrid and multicloud’ on Google Cloud, Azure and AWS

Cloud data analytics company, Teradata announced that its as-a-service data and analytics platform Teradata Vantage is now available on Google Cloud.

This makes the company the only data warehouse and analytics company to provide software across on-premises, hybrid and multicloud environments on the world’s top three public cloud vendors: AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud.

“Organisations need to drive real value from their data, and we are delighted to partner with Teradata to help them do so,” said Kevin Ichhpurani, Corporate Vice President at Google Cloud’s Global Ecosystem Unit.

The as-a-service offering provides access to Vantage, a powerful data and analytics platform that unifies analytics, data lakes and data warehouses, using increasingly popular Google Cloud resources.

“Bringing Teradata Vantage to Google Cloud provides our joint customers with a seamless path to hybrid cloud data storage and analytics, leveraging global, scalable infrastructure as well as Google Cloud’s differentiated capabilities in AI/ML,” added Mr. Ichhpurani.

Designed with cloud-first functions in mind, Teradata Vantage offers five functions to Teradata and Google Cloud customers. First, the ability to support up to 128 virtual machines with a guaranteed 99.9% service-level agreement. 

Next, first party service integration where users can join with and query data in Google Cloud Storage, Persistent Disk, and Dataproc, as well as integrate with preferred data pipeline, business intelligence, and visualisation tools.

Thirdly, Google Cloud’s Live Migration to mitigate the impact of both planned and unplanned maintenance by migrating running instances to new ones instead of requiring them to be rebooted, soothing business interruptions.

Fourthly, separation of compute and storage coupled with simple point-and-click elasticity, independent resource scaling, enabling Vantage on Google Cloud to more efficiently match customer workload demands.

And lastly, Vantage software consistency where customers can re-use previous Teradata investments and eliminate recoding when migrating from on-premises to Google Cloud to potentially save money and reduce risk.

“Teradata is committed to providing the best enterprise data analytics in the cloud. For us, this means offering our customers modern data analytics, but also flexibility with deployment options that don’t limit choice or lock them in,” said Hillary Ashton, Chief Product Officer at Teradata.

Vantage on Google Cloud provides near real-time data analytics with multi-dimensional scalability and concurrency, while workload management on Vantage offers unrestricted data analytics that does not require knowledge about where a particular dataset resides.

“Every company’s cloud strategy is different: for customers interested in cloud data analytics offerings using Google Cloud, Teradata is the only partner to meet their needs today, as well as tomorrow as their needs evolve,” added Ms. Ashton.

Teradata Vantage is now available in countries with Google Cloud regions, including Singapore, Jakarta, Taiwan, Mumbai, Hong Kong, Seoul, Tokyo, Osaka and Sydney.

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