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?

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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.

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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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Huawei and BPPT to develop cloud, 5G and AI in Indonesia

Huawei has signed a deal with the Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology to develop cloud, 5G and artificial intelligence in Indonesia.

The agreement is in line with Indonesia’s five-year national tech strategy announced in August that aims to steer the country towards AI adoption. 

Under the collaboration, Huawei will provide BPPT with expertise on cloud, 5G and AI, while BPPT will allow Huawei access to information that would help with tech research in Indonesia.

“The BPPT’s collaboration with Huawei is a symbol of open innovation as well as part of our commitment to accelerate the creation of a strong, innovation-based digital ecosystem in Indonesia,” said Research and Technology Minister, Bambang Bordjonegoro.

The Indonesia Government expects the BPPT to receive up-to-date information from Huawei regarding industry needs.

“We hope that this collaboration can become a progenitor to Indonesia’s efforts to become more competitive in the context of Industrial Revolution 4.0,” said Minister Bordjonegoro.

The agreement matches BPPT’s triple-helix collaboration between academia, the Government and industry to realize Indonesia’s digital economy country goals by 2035 and its vision to become a developed country by 2045.

“The transfer of knowledge and technology in the field of artificial intelligence, cloud and 5G by Huawei is expected to increase the role of technology auditing in Making Indonesia 4.0, and contribute to the National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence,” said BPPT Head, Hammam Riza.

Huawei Indonesia CEO Jacky Chen said that the collaboration signifies a ‘token of trust’ towards the company’s next-generation technology and shows their readiness in adopting the triple-helix synergy in the digital ecosystem.

“The mission and commitment of BPPT is in line with the spirit that Huawei continues to build in the field of research and innovation development. For more than three decades, Huawei has made a long-term investment in this area and laid a strong foundation for Huawei’s success as a world technology leader,” said Mr. Chen.

Huawei, which is ranked the sixth most innovative company in the world this year, has established global partnerships with more than 300 universities and 900 research institutions around the world.

In August, Indonesian President Joko Widodo announced that his government will allocate a budget of US$2 billion (30.5 trillion rupiah) to support the country’s ICT development. Since then, Widodo’s administration has made considerable progress in data centers and cloud computing.

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Lumen and Cisco’s cloud-based Collaboration Service goes global

Lumen (formerly known as CenturyLink) has expanded its Cisco Hosted Collaboration Solution (HCS) to Europe, the Middle East and Asia Pacific regions, making the service globally available.

Powered by cloud technology, Cisco HCS will deliver subscription-based, as-a-service solutions to businesses, including simplified IP-based voice, video, and messaging services.

With these enhancements, businesses utilising Lumen are able to scale Cisco HCS solutions to increase IT flexibility, boost work efficiency, and simplify network management to deliver high-quality services to their customers.

“It’s no longer a luxury to support collaboration needs for employees trying to work in a new world – it is essential to the new work experience,” said Craig Richter, Senior Director of Product Development at Lumen.

Delivered by Lumen, Cisco HCS service includes the full Cisco user experience with several levels of redundancy.

“Cisco HCS brings industry-leading capabilities to the Lumen portfolio, so now we can bring great customer experiences and quality end-to-end service to a global customer base more in need of it than ever,” added Mr. Richter.

Cisco HCS on Lumen was previously only available in North America when it was launched in 2014.

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Microsoft to receive $2.6b worth of semiconductor chips from SK Hynix

South Korean IT hardware manufacturer SK Hynix will be supplying US$2.6 billion (3 trillion won) worth of semiconductor chips to tech titan Microsoft.

In an agreement signed by both parties, SK Hynix will increase its annual production and supply server DRAMs, NAND-based solid state drives, and systems on chips (SoC) to Microsoft. In turn, Microsoft will provide SK Hynix with cloud services.

The ultimate goal for both companies is to build a cloud-based innovation lab that combines Microsoft’s data processing prowess with SK Hynix’s semiconductor technology. 

SK Hynix is currently the world’s third-largest semiconductor chipmaker. South Korea’s largest telecommunications provider, SK Telecom, holds the biggest shares in SK Hynix.

South Korea’s big ambition to lead the global chip market

SK Hynix and Microsoft’s collaboration is in line with the South Korean Government’s new goal to capture 20% of the global AI chip market share by 2030.

The country’s ICT Ministry has set a target to develop and produce up to 50 types of AI-powered semiconductor chips in ten years, investing US$871 million (1 trillion won).

The Ministry plans to acquire homegrown technology and train 3,000 industry experts to develop the chips.

To help AI chip companies in research, development, mergers and acquisitions, US$610,000 (70 billion won) from the local semiconductor fund will be allocated.

The AI chip market is expected to grow rapidly, reaching US$117.9 billion by 2030, compared with $18.5 billion this year, according to the Korea Information Society Development Institute.

SK Hynix and Samsung Electronics currently hold the largest global DRAM chip market share, manufacturing 73.6% of the world’s DRAM chips as of Q2 2020. But the market is expected to decline by 0.5% annually until 2024, according to Gartner.

Overseas, we are also seeing big players like NVIDIA, (reportedly) AMD and Imagination Technologies make waves in the semiconductor and data center chip markets.

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Malaysia to spend $434m on national cybersecurity strategy

Hot off the heels of Singapore’s Safer Cyberspace Masterplan, the Malaysian Government has announced a US$434 million (RM1.8 billion) Malaysia Cyber Security Strategy (MCSS) to upgrade the country’s cybersecurity measures.

The four-year strategy comprises five strategic pillars and 35 action plans, all of which will see strategic partnerships between the public and private sector to combat cybercrime.

The first pillar will look to boost the management of national governance and cybersecurity by improving Malaysia’s critical ICT infrastructure. The next pillar focuses on bolstering the enforcement of current cybersecurity laws by reviewing related legislation and formulating laws on cybersecurity.

The remaining pillars will empower innovation, improve cybersecurity skilled manpower in Malaysia and leveraging regional and international cooperation to protect the country’s cyberspace.

Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the development of cybersecurity initiatives is “timely”, given the state of the COVID-19 pandemic in Malaysia. 

When the country was placed under a Movement Control Order from March to June, Malaysia’s National Cyber Security Agency (NASCA) detected and dealt with a sharp rise in cyberattacks.

Prime Minister Muhyiddin also added that international cooperation is crucial in combating cyberthreats and detailed Malaysia’s active participation in such efforts.

“Malaysia has been supportive of cyber safety initiatives on both the regional and international platforms that have led to norm setting for cybersecurity in tandem with the Association of South-East Asian Nations, ASEAN Regional Forum, United Nations, Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation and the Commonwealth,” said Prime Minister Muhyiddin.

Prime Minister Muhyiddin said he looked forward to exploring further bilateral and multilateral relationships together with these organisations.

Under the MCSS, a National Cyber Security Committee has also been established, with Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob chairing the committee.

The MCSS will replace the current National Cyber Security Policy, which was implemented in 2006. NASCA and the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia will be tasked with implementing the action plans.

11 sectors classified as Critical National Information Infrastructure sectors by the KKMM are set to benefit from said plans. They include national defence and security, banking and finance, information and communications, energy, transportation, water, health services, government bodies, emergency services, and food and agriculture.

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STACK Infrastructure’s new Portland campus to provide low-latency access to Asia Pacific

STACK Infrastructure, a leading data center company, announced their new Portland campus will join the Wave Business Hillsboro Data Center Ring II network to provide low-latency access to Asia Pacific.

The network will connect the STACK campus to major long haul fibre routes, cloud on-ramps and seven transpacific submarine cables with access to the APAC region.

“Our facilities offer incredible opportunities for scale, and our proximity to the Hillsboro Data Center Ring enables STACK clients to expand their global businesses, particularly in these fast-growing markets,” said Brian Cox, the CEO of STACK.

The Hillsboro Data Center Ring II is a 3,456-strand fibre optic network commissioned and built by telecommunications provider Wave Business to give access to 13 major data centers in the Hillsboro area, including STACK’s existing facilities and its future builds slated for 2021.

“Hillsboro continues to be an exceptionally well-connected, low-latency access point for major international and West Coast availability zones,” said Mr. Cox.

STACK is one of the original data center providers in Portland. The data center company currently operates two facilities in Hillsboro. The new STACK campus, POR03, offers over 60 MW of potential capacity. 

STACK cloud and enterprise clients are said to have significant expansion potential via shell, colocation, and build-to-suit options on POR03 and the neighboring campus at PORL1, as well as readily available connectivity via available dark and lit fiber connected to the Ring.

The Data Center Ring will serve several markets in Asia Pacific, including China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Guam, Hawaii, New Zealand, Australia, and American Samoa.

“The backbone of our Hillsboro Data Center Ring II is now complete. This new Ring addresses the increasing demand for high-count fibre driven by new facilities like STACK in the fastest growing data center cluster on the West Coast,” said Patrick Knorr, the Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer for Wave Business.

Wave Business is a leader in fiber connectivity that serves the Hillsboro and Portland regions, as well as numerous other key markets across the United States of America.

“Together the two rings in Hillsboro enable business customers in any of the connected data centers to seamlessly cross-connect and gain access to dense, transpacific capacity to and from key overseas markets on one of seven submarine cable systems,” added Mr. Knorr.

Hillsboro, Oregon in the United States currently serves as an international hub for clouds and enterprises doing business globally. The area is already home to Ring I, with 864 low-loss, single-mode fibre cables connecting six data centers in the region.

STACK recently announced construction of a new 24 MW facility in Hillsboro, slated for completion mid-2021.

This year, two submarine cables were announced to expand capacity in Asia, one by Orient Link and NEC Corporation, and another by Asia Direct Cable, a global consortium of leading communications and technology companies.

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OVHcloud selects 2CRSi to supply servers for Singapore and Australia data centers

Global cloud provider OVHcloud has selected French server designer 2CRSi to supply servers for OVHcloud’s public cloud offering in Singapore and Australia.

With more than 30 data centers across four continents, OVHcloud chose 2CRSi to meet their requirements of speed and reliability for its public cloud solution in shared data centers in the two countries.

“We are very proud to assist OVHcloud in their expansion in Asia, as a complement to their integrated model, thanks to our latest OCtoPus server solutions and our new modular rack, OCtoRack,” said Alain Wilmouth, the Co-founder of 2CRSi.

With the trend towards green data centers rising rapidly, OVHcloud will deploy 2CRSi’s OCtoPus 3 servers, which are said to be efficient for energy consumption.

The servers will be installed in OCtoRack 42 SL modular racks designed by 2CRSi to increase density of computing power per square meter while keeping adaptable dimensions in line with general data center standards.

The first deliveries are scheduled to take place in December 2020, but the biggest part of OVHcloud’s planned investment is expected from 2021 onwards in accordance with their growth plan.

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COVID-19 has dramatic effect on digital infrastructure initiatives in Asia Pacific, says Equinix

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a dramatic effect on how businesses plan their digital infrastructure initiatives over the next three years, according to the latest Global Interconnection Index by Equinix.

Private connectivity bandwidth is expected to increase fivefold by 2023 for industries like telecommunications, cloud and IT services, and technology providers. This rapid growth is driven by greater demands from enterprises to close digital gaps at the edge.

“As interconnected services, cloud providers, distributed cloud, edge services and SaaS offerings continue to proliferate, the rationale to stay only in a traditional data center topology will have limited advantages,” said David Cappuccio, Distinguished VP Analyst for Gartner, and Henrique Cecci, the Senior Director Analyst for Gartner.

Industries like banking and insurance, securities and trading, manufacturing, and professional services will represent more than 25% of interconnection bandwidth in Asia Pacific and are expected to reach a peak interconnection bandwidth growth rate of over 50% annually by 2023. 

This is led by the growing need to move workloads to the digital edge while scaling core IT infrastructure.

The report also forecasts that overall interconnection bandwidth, the measure of private connectivity for the transfer of data between organisations, will achieve a 47% compound annual growth rate from 2019 to 2023.

“This is not an overnight shift, but an evolutionary change in thinking how we deliver services to our customers and to the business,” said Mr. Cappuccio and Mr. Cecci.

The cloud and IT services segment is predicted to lead the growth in Asia Pacific, reaching an anticipated 1,374 Tbps by 2023, which is 29% more than the next largest region, North America. 

Service providers in Asia Pacific are now forecast to provision more interconnection bandwidth than enterprises by a factor of almost two times. However, much of this service provider demand is anticipated to be in support of enterprises that are prioritising their digital transformation in preparation for post-pandemic recovery.

“This trend, coupled with the new reality that outside factors might limit physical access to the data center, such as emergency quarantine, is driving new thinking in infrastructure planning,” added Mr. Cappuccio and Mr. Cecci.

Healthcare and life sciences as well as government and education are forecast to accelerate interconnection bandwidth adoption, as both industries prioritise digital initiatives such as machine learning and artificial intelligence, which are forecast to drive a combined 50% annual growth rate in interconnection bandwidth.

“Digital leaders have to prepare for post-pandemic recovery by planning and implementing the right digital transformation initiatives now,” said Claire Macland, the Senior Vice President of Marketing for Equinix.

The leading metros for private connectivity within the region are expected to be Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo, Shanghai and Hong Kong.

“We believe those that have a foundational infrastructure which helps bring together all the right places, partners and possibilities will gain a business advantage over the long term,” added Ms. Macland.

With a digital infrastructure in place, enterprises are said to extend their competitive advantage, while those without will struggle, as they are dependent on service providers to transform their business models.

By building a presence in locations with the most users and largest number of providers, which is known as the ‘network effect’, organisations are believed to maximise their digital advantage. To create a ‘network effect’ application exchange in digital ecosystems to support real-time engagement is essential.

Connectivity from service providers to networks and cloud and IT service providers will be the two main sources of ecosystem interconnection, with an estimated 52% combined CAGR from 2019 to 2023.

“With the pandemic creating a sudden global shift to remote and work-from-home practices, our customers have a renewed appreciation of the need for reliable networking solutions. Prioritising digital transformations and cloud connectivity is imperative.  Our top priority is to provide customers with differentiated solutions to drive business agility so they can achieve their goals and mitigate risks,” said Debika Bhattacharya, the VP-Global Solutions at Verizon Business.

According to IDC, 80% of digital leaders will see the impact of connecting to multiple ecosystems, including improving their value to end customers by 2025.

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Imagination Technologies takes aim at data center market with new chip designs

British semiconductor and chip designer Imagination Technologies is the latest to take aim at data centers, following NVIDIA and reports of AMD looking to power up their data center arm.

On Tuesday 13 October, Imagination Technologies released new chip technology to help the Chinese-owned company.

The company’s newest BXT series of graphics chip design is said to take aim at rivals such as NVIDIA and AMD, whose chips are often used inside data centers.

Speaking to Reuters about the BXT chips, Andrew Girdler, Imagination Technologies’ Product Manager, said: “If you’ve got a cloud application where your profit is decided by how much [computing] you can do for the amount of power, these are really interesting solutions that’s a step ahead of other options on the market today.”

The BXT design aims to get as much computing performance as possible from a small amount of power on a physically small piece of silicon.

Sales of graphics chips have risen in recent years because they have been adapted to take on artificial intelligence tasks such as image recognition. The growth of those tasks has helped NVIDIA, the largest supplier of graphics and AI chips, overtake Intel as the largest US chip company by market capitalisation.

Imagination Technologies’ entry into the data center market, where its graphics chips will also help process images from online games, draws on its experience in supplying chip designs for mobile phones.

“With the rise of 5G and high-speed Wi-Fi 6, cloud gaming and data center, GPU servers are a rapidly growing market, and we are looking forward to seeing the impact of our low-power, high-efficiency technology in this space,” said Graham Deacon, the Vice President of Business Development at Imagination Technologies.

The London-based chip designer has long supplied designs and intellectual property that go into making graphics chips for mobile phones, helping them render more complex images while consuming less power.

Imagination Technologies has also announced a new licensing deal with Innosilicon, a worldwide one-stop provider of high-speed mixed signal IP and custom ASIC solutions. Innosilicon will integrate the newly launched BXT GPU for desktop and data center applications.

“Thanks to BXT’s multi-core scalable architecture, we are able to build a customised solution to meet the high-end data centre demand with fantastic cloud and computing performance,” said Roger Mao, the Vice President of Engineering at Innosilicon.

The new 4K/8K PCI-E Gen4 GPU card by Imagination Technologies is set to hit the market soon to power 5G cloud gaming and data center applications.

Imagination Technologies is owned by Canyon Bridge Capital Partners, a private equity fund based in Beijing that is beneficially owned by the Chinese Government.

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Highway to a 100 Unicorns launched in Asia Pacific by Microsoft

Following a successful initiative in India, Microsoft has launched the Highway to a 100 Unicorns in 16 Asia Pacific markets.

The initiative looks to empower startups with mentoring, technology and access to enterprise clients.

“Startups play a vital role in our economy as innovators, disruptors and first-movers. Through Highway to a 100 Unicorns, we will enable startups in APAC so they can have real impact in their markets and drive digital innovation in the region,” said Ricky Kapur, the Vice President of Sales, Marketing and Operations for Microsoft Asia Pacific.

Innovators and entrepreneurs from 16 countries, including Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam will be invited to be part of the Highway to a 100 Unicorns initiative.

To be considered, startups will first have to submit an application for Emerge X competitions in their countries. Business-to-business startups must have a product-market fit and revenue generating with at least three to four clients. Business-to-customer startups should have a large customer base with upwards of 100,000 customers, and are revenue generating.

“We look forward to walking with more founders along their growth journey and supporting them to scale and achieve more,” said Mr. Kapur.

All Emerge X startups will be awarded with free GitHub and Azure credits, focused business and technology workshops as well as a year-long mentorship with technical and business deep dives, a Founder Bootcamp across three days, access to enterprise clients globally through Microsoft’s co-sell program, and opportunities to interact with Microsoft experts and industry stalwarts.

In India, only 56 startups were selected to be part of the Emerge X program from six states, which have over 15,000 startups.

Innovation is critical to unlocking inclusive economic growth in Asia Pacific, with high income economies in the region investing three times more in research and development as compared to their peers. 

To spur innovative entrepreneurship, Microsoft will work closely with governments and industry partners to discover and nurture technology startups with a high potential to become truly global enterprises in the future.

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Yotta NM1 one of few data centers in India to achieve OIX-2 certification

Yotta NM1 has become one of few data centers in India to serve as a point of network interconnection with globally recognised OIX-2 certification.

Yotta Infrastructure’s first data center and Asia’s largest Uptime Institute Tier IV certified data center has successfully met the standards for massive-scale interconnection supporting facility performance, resiliency and reliability needed to provide interconnect networks.

“The OIX-2 certification is a stamp of credibility on our network quality. Yotta NM1 is a carrier-neutral data center and leading telecom providers have brought their fibre directly into our data center,” said Sunil Gupta, Managing Partner and CEO at Yotta Infrastructure.

Open-IX is a self-regulated community that came into being to regulate the development of critical data center and Internet Exchange Providers (IXP). They set the standards in a structure that supports all the data center players and their customers.

“We are extremely excited to add Yotta to our list of certified data centers,” said Eli D. Scher, the Chairman of Open-IX.

Open-IX enables an ecosystem that is mutually beneficial to each of these service providers and operators, as well as their customers. 

Yotta NM1 will be able to bring any new network provider on a non-discriminatory basis to provide non-discriminatory access to any Open-­IX approved IXP subject to available space, power, and cooling.

“The OIX-2 certification represents quality in engineering and fair access to interconnection services. We believe these characteristics resonate with potential customers and partners alike, and we welcome Yotta to the Open-IX community,” added Mr. Scher.

The benefits of this certification is said to be passed on to customers by way of reduced costs, increased data protection and security, scalable and reliable connectivity with increased redundancy and resiliency.

“OIX-2 is a community-based certification. By getting certified, we are making the potential customers aware about the importance of interconnection, open standards, and non-discriminatory access,” commented Manish Israni, the EVP and CIO of Yotta Infrastructure.

Yotta NM1 is connected and peered with almost all carriers and ISPs in India. Open-IX allows the end customers to have a greater selection of peers, carriers, and cloud service providers that previously might not have been available in a data center location, creating a one-stop shop for the customers.

“We have built redundancy across multiple carriers to ensure higher uptime for our customers. We can extend additional value propositions like redundancy, flexibility, diversity, aggregation, and better routing to our customers,” added Mr. Israni.

Yotta’s first data center, Yotta NM1, is slated to be one of the largest data centers in India. The facility covers 800,000 square feet, filled with 7,200 racks and 50MW of power.

Besides OIX-2 certification, Yotta has also received various other certifications like the ISO 9001:2015, ISMS Cloud Security – ISO/IEC 27017:2015, ISO/IEC 20000-1:2018, ISO/IEC 27001:2013, ISO/IEC 27018: 2019, and PCI-DSS, with many more in the pipeline.

Yotta Infrastructure, a Hiranandani Group company, is set to invest US$469m or ₹3,500 crore on three data centers in Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai over the next two years.

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Can data centers in South Asia really go green?

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Vietnam’s VNPT speeds up digital transformation using cloud computing

Vietnam’s state-owned telecommunications company VNPT is speeding up their digital transformation with a roadmap for developing cloud-based products and a comprehensive cloud computing ecosystem.

With great potential in Vietnam for cloud services during the era of Industry 4.0, VNPT hopes to give benefits to the country’s enterprise community in the era of digital transformation.

The global cloud services market size is expected to reach a value of US$927 billion, with a compound annual growth rate of 16.4% between 2020 and 2027.

As a member of Vietnam’s Digital Transformation Alliance, VNPT has also participated in the ‘Speeding up digital transformation using Vietnam’s cloud computing’ campaign by the Ministry of Information and Communications.

With cloud computing still relatively nascent and investment ‘rather low’ in Vietnam, the campaign aims at building an ecosystem in which Vietnam’s cloud computing enterprises master the technology, provide cloud computing services and infrastructure, and then support and step up the digital transformation of enterprises.

VNPT developed VNPT Cloud to build an optimal environment for the operation of IT applications, establishing computing facilities at scale from cloud servers to systems with hundreds of servers.

VNPT has also stepped up their international cooperation with global technology companies in researching new technologies like AI, blockchain, IoT, cybersecurity. Their view is to become a leading digital service provider in Vietnam and digital transaction center in Asia.

In April 2020, VNPT, Vietnam’s second largest telco behind Viettel, successfully tested its VinaPhone 5G network in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

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Telkomsigma unphased by foreign data center companies entering Indonesia

In a blog post, Telkomsigma has stated they are not nervous about the entry of foreign data center companies into Indonesia like Alibaba Cloud, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, NTT and SpaceDC.

The CEO of Telkomsigma, Sihmirmo Adi, said the entry of foreign players cannot be separated from ecosystems like networks.

“This business is very network sensitive. We still believe that foreign players who enter will need a network,” said Mr. Sihmirmo.

Telkomsigma is a subsidiary of Telkom Indonesia, the state-owned telecommunications giant, and works with state-owned enterprises (i.e. Badan Usaha Milik Negara).

“Foreign players will face challenges on the network. We are not afraid of foreign players, because once foreign players enter and see the network, it will be difficult to compete in terms of price,” added Mr. Sihmirmo.

Rather than foreign tech giants, Telkomsigma expects competition to come from fellow local players in the private corporate segment, including Djarum and Sinar Mas who have entered the data center industry.

“It’s good if there are a lot of players, it will spur us to be more competitive,” said Mr. Sihmirmo.

Telkom Indonesia currently owns three data centers of Tier III or Tier IV standards in the country through its subsidiary Telkomsigma, which also holds the biggest share in the data services market at 43%.

“The higher the tier is not the more salable, in fact the higher tier, the more difficult it is to sell because the more expensive it is,” said Mr. Sihmirmo.

According to Mr. Sihmirmo, business needs in Indonesia require data centers that are certified Tier III or higher, with the most important quality being the UPS. In the event of a power failure, Telkomsigma’s UPS is said to be able to keep running the data center for more than ten minutes, while the generator will begin working in less than 20 seconds.

Mr. Shimirmo expects the IT services and corporate segments for B2B businesses to contract in 2021 because ‘the market is going down, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, while Telkomsigma predicts immersive technology to become an attractive segment.

“Only companies that have prepared themselves to go to B2B2C or B2C will excel, B2C also leads to lifestyle and digital services,” said Mr. Shimirmo.

As data consumption grows in Southeast Asia’s fastest growing digital economy, Telkom Indonesia will capitalise on the growing number of businesses and individuals going online by targeting growth in the data center industry.

Telkomsigma recently won the 2020 Corporate Image Award in recognition of their efforts in maintaining data center service continuity during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Chayora Data Centres expands executive team with former AWS, Google, Microsoft and Digital Realty staff

Chayora, an international developer of hyperscale data centers in China, has expanded their executive team with former staff from Google, Microsoft, AWS and Digital Realty.

Tiger Zhou will join the Chayora team as Operations Director. He has held lead technical roles in Amazon Web Services in China as well as Microsoft China, Cisco and Ericsson. With over ten years of experience working in AWS data centers, Mr. Zhou has helped build and scale data centers in Beijing, Hong Kong and Ningxia.

Joining Mr. Zhou will be Mark Froelich, the new Programme Director for Chayora. Mr. Froelich has 20 years experience in data center projects for multinational corporations in the USA, APAC and European Union. 

Previous to his Chayora appointment, he was Senior Director for Universal Creative, where he delivered their brand new high-tech theme park in Beijing. Mr. Froelich has also held senior positions for Google and AWS.

Finishing off the powerhouse hires is Lee Heng Aik Chuen (“AC”), who will be the new Technical Director for Chayora. Mr. Chuen has helped design and manage data center projects for over 20 years, including a number of large green field data centers ranging in size from 15 MW to 36 MW of load.

Mr. Chuen also has prior experience working for ST Telemedia and Digital Realty, setting up technical operation teams for seven large data centers in Asia.

“Chayora’s first data center in Tianjin, Greater Beijing has recently been completed and we are delighted to expand our team with these industry leaders of international pedigree,” said Jonathan Berney, Co-Founder and COO of Chayora.

The new data center was built at a cost of approximately US$1.5 billion and will host 300 MW of IT load. The facility is intended to be both carrier-neutral and cloud-neutral, connecting to big domestic providers like Alibaba Cloud and Tencent Cloud, as well as AWS, Azure and other foreign players.

“We look forward to Tiger, Mark and AC strengthening our existing leadership team and progressing the next phases of our Tianjin hyperscale campus along with our imminent Shanghai data center facility which we will be announcing shortly to meet known customer needs,” celebrated Mr. Berney.

The new Shanghai facility will have over 280 MW of power and provide ultra-high speed connections of up to multiple 100Gbs.

Previous to these appointments, Chayora announced a new APAC office in Singapore and the appointment of James McCartney as their Executive Vice President of Sales in September 2020.

“Having James join our team is a recognition of Chayora’s continuing successful growth and enables us to expand particularly within the financial services and hyperscale cloud sectors and to develop meaningful long-term relationships with our customers operating out of Singapore”” said Oliver Jones, Co-Founder and CEO at Chayora.

Before Chayora, Mr. McCartney held a senior customer-focussed role leading a team of global specialists in developing cloud and data center strategies and solutions.

“This is a critical time when we’re seeing the greatest demand for digital infrastructure and mass adoption of cloud platforms, services, and solutions. Especially with regulatory changes that govern the financial services sector, I look forward to supporting our financial institutional customers to enable them to expand their business in greater China,” said Mr. McCartney.

Chayora is registered in the Cayman Islands and headquartered in Hong Kong after being established in 2011.

UK private capital investor Actis Capital owns a 63% stake in Chayora Holdings after investing US$180 million in 2019. In September 2020, Actis Capital and South Korean conglomerate GS Group announced the formation of a joint venture to build a US$315 million data center in Seoul.

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