Pressure on local players at Datacentres Malaysia Summit

  • MDeC aims to have local DC players achieve at least three leads from upcoming data center summit
  • Lack of awareness on the adoption of ICT services by Malaysian businesses remains major challenge

Pressure on local players at Datacentres Malaysia SummitTHE upcoming Datacentres Malaysia Summit on Jan 16 will see local data center (DC) players in the spotlight under the watchful eye of the Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC).
 
In an interview with Digital News Asia, Wan Murdani Wan Mohamad (pic), director of EPP3 Data Centre, National Key Economic Areas (NKEA) Business Services for MDeC, said there are currently 18 local DC players in Malaysia which provide various products and services recognized by the agency.
 
He shared that MDeC, in its role as the appointed driver of the DC industry in Malaysia, is aiming for no fewer than 30 business-to-business engagements between the local DC players and foreign investors and buyers at the summit.
 
“We are aiming for each local player to achieve at least three leads from this summit. The topics discussed will also be an added value to the DC players to adopt in their business model and service offerings,” said Wan Murdani.
 
This is the second year the summit, organized by UK-based consulting firm BroadGroup, will be held. It will be a platform for local DC players to network with potential foreign investors and buyers from Europe and Asia, the organizer said.
 
Wan Murdani said that due to increased interest in Malaysia as a data center location, more notable speakers form this year’s line-up with the chairman for NKEA Business Services Steering Committee, Minister of Human Resources Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam, slated to deliver the ministerial keynote addressing the country’s Economic Transformation Program or ETP in positioning Malaysia as a DC hub.
 
Disaster recovery center
 
MDeC was mandated by the Government to develop the DC industry under the ETP, specifically under EPP3 (Entry Point Project 3).

It is the agency’s role is to market Malaysia as a DC location hub – to build local industry players and put Malaysia on the global map through its programs to build credibility, capability and capacity.
 
According to Wan Murdani, Malaysia has a unique positioning compared to market leaders Hong Kong and Singapore. Whilst these two are city-states with a high-density population and infrastructure, they lack vital land space.
 
“Malaysia has abundant space for data storage, which can serve the needs of companies requiring a large DC space. Also, it is free from natural disasters, which can affect infrastructure and power. Thus we can position Malaysia as the disaster recovery center for foreign businesses,” he said.
 
He added that also has a greater pool of resources to draw on such as energy and water. “While energy has always been a critical requirement, water is an increasingly important cooling factor to data centers in tropical climates and Malaysia has ample supply."
 
Traditionally, Wan Murdani said, Malaysia has seen investments in DC from countries in Europe, Japan and North America. However there are opportunities in markets closer to home, such as Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines and Myanmar. Malaysia can serve the requirements of these countries and position itself as a gateway for data storage.
 
“We need to map our advantages and capitalize on it – create a niche area to develop the DC industry in order to position Malaysia as a regional, and global DC hub. The utilities providers are also trying to be competitive and we are working closely with them to provide a more competitive location for DC investors,” he said.
 
Pressure on local players at Datacentres Malaysia SummitShoring up local support
 
When asked for his take on a recent survey conducted by IDC, sponsored by IBM. which showed that South-East Asian enterprises that have data center operations in their respective countries are severely lacking compared to their global counterparts, Wan Murdani said the findings relate more to enterprise or captive data centers.
 
“For example, strategic data centers refer to organizations at peak efficiency and allocating 25% more IT resources to new projects. However this echoes our own data center demand research we commissioned in 2012,” he said.
 
Of the 100 large organizations surveyed (80% of which were Bursa Malaysia companies) in the study commissioned by MDeC, the vast majority are using IT merely to meet regulatory or statutory requirements. Few have started to use IT for increasing efficiency and none were using IT as a strategic tool for competitive advantage.
 
“These are not data center issues and are more about large organizations realizing what business advantages they can gain with properly implemented strategic IT initiatives. MDeC has always been promoting the adoption of ICT nationally and we will continue to do so with renewed vigor through the Digital Malaysia initiatives,” he said, referring the Malaysia's national intiative to transform into a 'digital economy.'
 
Wan Murdani added that the lack of awareness on the adoption of ICT services by Malaysian businesses is still a major challenge, with awareness and education about the advantages still needing to be reinforced, “especially in considering outsourcing their ICT needs in order to supplement in-house capability and focus on their core business. We hope that events such as the Datacentres Malaysia Summit or similar will be able to narrow the awareness gap and increase the demand for DC services.”
 
In the case of serving the growing market of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) who require DC services, Wan Murdani said local DC players catering for this segment will need to provide their services at an affordable cost while being able to provide high quality customer service to large numbers of customers.
 
“Such data centers will need a high degree of automation including payment systems and extensive customer self-service capability which is nowadays typically provided through a cloud based infrastructure and associated management systems,” he said.

When asked about the trend of local online businesses preferring to host elsewhere instead of with local DC companies, due to issues faced with connectivity and service standards, Wan Murdani said MDeC continues to encourage data center providers to actively participate in its programs which provide incentives for them to upgrade their capability and credibility.
 
“We also conduct comparative benchmark studies on various aspects of the data center industry and share these findings with our DC operators which we hope will provide them insights on how their counterparts in other countries are progressing. Our sponsorship of conferences such as this summit by BroadGroup also has the objective of bringing in speakers knowledgeable in the current state of the art to expose our local players to new developments,” he said.
 
He added that MDeC is also engaging with the telecommunications industry to get them to recognize that data centers are strategic partners and a mutually beneficial partnership is the way forward to increase Malaysia’s competitiveness in this area.
 
The Datacentres Malaysia summit will be hosted at Intercontinental Hotel Kuala Lumpur, from Jan 16 - 17.
 
The two-day event includes the conference, special workshops and an industry exhibition and is touted to provide a unique networking platform for enterprises considering outsourcing or establishing their own facilities in Malaysia, services and solution providers, investors, and professional intermediaries.
 
Sponsors of the event include MDeC, VADS, Schneider Electric, HP, CSF Group, Powerware, HDC,  AIMS, Akamai, Digital Realty, CBRE, C2 Consult, AST Modular, and Freenet.
 
Media partners include Finance and Investment News for Datacentres, Datacentres.com, Asia Today, Haking, Datacenter Journal, Balkans.com, the data chain, Boogar Lists, BEvents, InfoComm, ECM Plus, TeleTechWire, Conference Locate, TechWeek Europe, businessvibes and Digital News Asia.
 
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