The secret behind Singapore’s data centre success
By Clement Goh November 19, 2015
- Just a few years ago, the industry in Singapore was a vastly different one
- Three key success factors: Space (yes!), power and interconnectivity
AT just 718.3 sq km with a modest population of a little over five million, Singapore is just a drop in the ocean when compared with its sizeable neighbours.
Yet the ‘little red dot’ has been anything but meek in the data centre industry, accounting for over 60% of the region’s market and leading South-East Asia as a hub, according to a report from DataCenterDynamics.
This is quite a feat, especially given the limited availability of space and the novelty of the Singapore data centre scene.
Just a few years ago, the data centre industry in Singapore was a vastly different one. With just a few players, the field was largely bare and open.
Recently, with the demand for cloud services escalating, the momentum has certainly picked up as more multinational corporations are choosing to set up operations here.
So what has Singapore done right in attaining pole position as a data centre hub in South-East Asia?
The success of a data centre can be attributed to three main factors: Space, power and interconnectivity.
As a small dot on the global map, it should come as no surprise that Singapore does not have much spatial capacity to spare.
Given the limited space availability, looking towards new technologies that allow for minimal use of land without any compromise on efficiency has become pertinent.
To that end, the Singapore Government has been pushing for ‘Green IT,’ allocating extensive resources to fund R&D (research and development) initiatives to boost green and efficient data centre operations.
Apart from the environmental benefits and cost reductions, the widespread proponent for Green IT has been to optimise not only horizontal, but vertical space utilisation as well.
Many of Singapore’s data centres are housed across multiple floors. Much like HDB (Housing Development Board) designs, we optimise rack space by stacking multiple layers, allowing the same space to cater to larger data storage needs.
Having more storage space in a single data centre facility also makes it easier for data centre operators to better manage overall power efficiency.
A reliable power supply is essential to ensure constant uptime and efficiency of data centres. The stable availability of power ensures that less redundancy is needed to be built in.
Singapore’s sound infrastructure makes it easier for companies to build power infrastructure and gridlines to support the dissemination, allocation, and re-allocation of power.
The Government continues to raise the bar in data centre quality through eco-friendly initiatives and regulations placed on the way data centres are managed.
The implementation of the Building and Construction Authority-Infocomm Development Authority (BCA-IDA) Green Mark Scheme for Data Centres serves as good measure to increase the environmental efficiency of Singapore’s data centres.
The scheme assesses data centres in Singapore based on five key criteria: Energy efficiency, water efficiency, sustainable construction and management, and indoor environment quality, as well as other green features.
It is important for data centres to implement sustainable technologies to ensure that power is not only utilised and conserved efficiently, but renewed as well.
Cooling is essential in for data centres, and the efficient use of water, especially in Singapore, is high on the energy efficiency agenda.
Data centres are known for high energy consumption, but sustainable technologies and guidelines from the Singapore Government is making it easier to ‘green’ local data centres.
The establishment of submarine cable systems has proven to be a pivotal factor in determining Singapore’s pole position in the data centre landscape.
The island-republic boasts 15 submarine cable systems that are able to provide high bandwidth capacity. This is especially important to financial businesses that require a network-rich infrastructure that ensures security.
Furthermore, the presence of submarine cables offers customers scalable, low-cost and low-latency connectivity – a desirable advantage for multinational companies and startups with global expansion plans.
As such, a multitude of companies are not just flocking to Singapore but choosing to headquarter their businesses here.
This in turn has given rise to several financial clusters springing up in Singapore, which further propels the need for efficient cloud services.
The presence of these vibrant business hubs in itself is an asset for companies to tap into. The heightened digital traffic that passes through Singapore’s data centres allows for an interconnected ecosystem where enterprises and business partners can not only network but also enjoy world-class cloud services.
Space, power and interconnectivity aside, the local government has a large role to play in the quick ascent of Singapore’s data centre industry.
Firstly, the Singapore Government is one that is stable and open with its licensing policies. This is in contrast to some other countries within the Asia Pacific region, where companies may face challenges in gaining approval to set up their headquarters.
This alone is an attractive factor that places Singapore ahead of its neighbours.
Secondly, the Government has relentlessly taken on initiatives to further boost Singapore’s presence on the global data centre map.
The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) recently announced its plans to establish a data centre park (DCP) aimed at housing at least half a dozen new data centres on the west side of Singapore.
With new policies being implemented, it comes as no surprise that Singapore holds reigning pole position as the country with the highest total data centre capacity.
Singapore’s close proximity to substantial markets such as Australia, South Korea and Japan is yet another factor that has spurred the rapid development of data centres in the small island.
Its geographically convenient location positions it centrally within the mature Asia Pacific market, a region that has been consistently growing, with the public cloud services market forecast to hit US$7.4 billion in 2015, according to Gartner.
Not all data centres are built equal. As such, some will certainly reign more successful than others.
The keys to their success? Interconnectivity, carrier density and operational excellence.
This winning combination, alongside Singapore’s swift rise as a financial and business hub, will further cement the Lion City’s status as a leader in the data centre landscape, not just regionally but also globally.
Clement Goh is managing director, South-East Asia, at Equinix.
How Singapore became Asia’s data centre hub
Singapore’s data centre market pushing the envelope: DCDi
US-based Equinix begins 2nd phase expansion of 3rd Singapore data centre
Malaysia’s data centre industry needs to better sell itself: Emerson
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