Connecting ASEAN businesses through the Data Centre Corridor
Writer: Matthew Staff
Project Manager: Donovan Smith
In recent years, 1-Net has fast become Asia’s data centre of choice, starting as a developer of broadband infrastructure from inception in 1997 and evolving into a fully-fledged data centre service provider across Asia.
Its suite of solutions include the management of carrier-neutral internet data centres, network connectivity, managed services and media delivery services; offering customers superior stability, and a secure delivery and service experience. Being a wholly-owned subsidiary of Mediacorp (Singapore’s national broadcaster), 1-Net has built on their success and created a unique media-centric community.
As a result, 1-Net has achieved several accolades, including being the first data centre to achieve Business Continuity Management certification as well as being the first green data centre operator in Singapore.
The rapid rise to prominence continued in 2015 as 1-Net’s influence expanded beyond the confines of Singapore; its “Data Centre Corridor” initiative fulfilling the need to provide unparalleled connectivity amongst strategic data centres in neighbouring ASEAN countries.
Riding the data centre wave
Despite a gloomy economic outlook in 2016, the data centre industry continues to grow in a steadfast and focused manner in Singapore. As a result, the city state continues to affirm its position as one of the largest data centre markets in the Asia-Pacific region; thriving largely due to favourable attributes including an advantageous geographic location sparing it from natural disasters, a safe and pro-business environment, stable power supply and strong Government support.
Developments in the ICT industry and economy are further boosting demand for data centres in Singapore. Spearheaded by the Singapore Government, the Smart Nation Programme has been aimed at strengthening Singapore’s position as an infocomm technology and media hub; as more industries take up initiatives to evolve digitally as well as investments in the Internet of Things (IoT), big data and cloud projects ensuring that demand for data centres has increased.
Coupled with more stringent compliance requirements in the financial industry around data security and residency, the data centre industry is in the middle of a perfect storm of opportunity.
“As Singapore and the rest of ASEAN move towards a digital economy, there will be a natural demand for data storage and cloud deployment, providing sustainable growth in the data centre market,” says Wong Ka Vin, Managing Director, 1-Net Singapore.
“With this increased demand, businesses will need to be discerning when looking for a provider that can be a reliable partner in the long-run.”
The Data Centre Corridor
1-Net has capitalised on this demand for growth in Singapore and now has 16 interconnected data centres in the country, allowing its customers to connect to other key data centres to drive more business transactions across multiple data centres.
“By the end of 2016, 1-Net would be connected to 26 data centres in Singapore and Malaysia, with a roadmap to add on more data centres in key ASEAN cities in the near future,” Wong adds.
Such rapid footprint growth was achieved by actively bringing together other local network providers to create a data centre hub in Singapore. Beyond this, 1-Net has also built and strengthened connectivity between data centres around the region, by facilitating collaboration with players in neighbouring markets and benefitting businesses who are looking to grow geographically.
“We are looking at interconnecting more data centres in the region, and we are hoping to increase our network by 50 percent this year with our network partners,” Wong continues. “This provides our customers with more connectivity options, diversified routes at a competitive rate between selected data centres, and also with the peace of mind knowing where their data is stored.”
1-Net’s focus on evolving and adapting to the latest, complex industry trends has been at the core of its continuous improvement strategy over the years, and most recently, the trend of east-west traffic growth among its customers has been a primary driver behind its Data Centre Corridor initiative.
“We expect this growth to continue in the next five years,” Wong affirms. “ASEAN integration presents significant opportunities for trade, flow of services and information, and we believe that the Data Centre Corridor would be integral in connecting strategic data centres and therefore businesses within cities in Asia.”
A tailored and secure approach
The latest addition to the comprehensive 1-Net portfolio complements a range of services that comprises a vast array of facility specifications tailored to meet the hosting needs of both carriers and enterprises.
The ability to design and build data centres to bespoke requirements sits alongside the Company’s expertise in providing diverse connectivity options between data centres along its corridor in the region; applying its Work Area Recovery Suite (WARS) Service as part of its business continuity endeavours; and providing media delivery services for dependable web streaming and webcasts.
1-Net’s WARS Service reduces customers’ operational load in maintaining an alternate site with a round-the-clock, always-on support service from a team of certified business continuity recovery experts, ensuring business continuity in the face of challenges. In helping to increase awareness of business continuity management (BCM) among enterprises, 1-Net has subsequently been recognised as a BCM Ambassador by the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) since 2015.
“This represents 1-Net’s ability to take advantage of adjacent business opportunities without incursion into our customers’ business space,” Wong explains. “We are the first local data centre to be awarded with United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) accreditation for the new global standard in Business Continuity.
Beyond operations and the ability to provide tailored services, another key factor to consider is security.
Wong continues: “As we continue to break boundaries in technology and increase information flows as a result, it is also equally important for us to ensure that this data is stored securely. Data centres will continue to play an integral role in ensuring that sensitive data is kept safe.
“Any forward-looking business will adopt strong cyber-security measures as a means to stay ahead of evolving threats. A secure data centre adds value by boosting stakeholders’ trust and customers’ confidence in entrusting their valuable data to us.”
1-Net has referenced the Technology Risk Management (TRM) Guidelines, developed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore for the financial institutions in Singapore. These guidelines include a segment on Threat and Vulnerability Risk Assessment (TVRA) to help identify potential security threats and operational weaknesses in a data centre, so as to determine the level and type of protection required to safeguard it.
“In addition to the Monetary Authority of Singapore TRM guidelines, the Ministry of Home Affairs Guidelines for Enhancing Building Security in Singapore (GEBSS) 2010 design planning guidelines (threats and potential scenarios) have also been adopted where applicable,” Wong notes. “As organisations start to adapt to new technologies, they are also exposed to more sophisticated security threats.
“There is also a need for them to identify a data centre partner that is able to meet their expanding needs and to also grow with them as their business expands.
“We are confident that our comprehensive and tailored suite of services will be able to meet any organisational needs.”
Never a Company to remain content with the status quo, its Data Centre Corridor initiative is being complemented with the completion of yet another data centre. The 1-Net North data centre is targeted to be Southeast Asia’s first Tier III Data Centre accredited with Certification of Constructed Facility by the Uptime Institute, and is projected to be ready for service in April, 2016.
“With the growing consumption of rich data in the region, 1-Net North provides a specialised offering catering to companies looking to focus on digital content,” Wong says. “This means having a highly secure centralised environment where content from different providers or content-owners can be processed and transcoded in either a shared or dedicated hosting environment and distributed with low latency network connectivity. This also includes end-user, self-generated content such as those on social media platforms.”
Additionally, 1-Net has also invested in greenfield-developed data centres, as opposed to the trend of retrofitting existing buildings in the past.
Wong continues: “This highlights the increasing importance of achieving a higher yield in terms of a ratio between GFA and white space created. This increased efficiency will also result in more competitive pricing in the market.
Powered by people
Inevitably, these trends are often imposed results of regulatory changes and changing customer needs. As a result, operators are required to adapt their models and business plans, placing added pressure on finding competitive differentiation within these guidelines; and this is where 1-Net’s prominence derives from.
For example, the recent announcement of the Green Data Centre Innovation Programme by the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore, which aims to boost energy efficiency within data centres, was a trigger for 1-Net to respond and adapt. 1-Net is already laying the foundations by becoming one of very few organisations to receive ISO 50001 certification in line with the Singapore Standard in the sector.
Underpinning every new data centre, every service expansion and every trend-driven diversification, is what Wong believes to be the Company’s core advantage: his team, “the people”.
Roland Ang, Vice President of Business Market says: “At 1-Net, we believe that our people are the differentiating factor in this industry. While our business is in selling technology, it is also equally important to remember that we are people, not machines. We have adopted a customer-led approach to the business and we are firmly committed to providing them with top-class customer service.
Strong cultural diversity within the employee base further facilitates the Company’s wider, international goals as it looks to develop its understanding of other markets and enhance its ASEAN hub for the benefit of its own evolution, and that of its customers.
Ang continues: “Our differentiation strategy was put in place when we rebranded in 2014. This is not something that we did simply as a marketing campaign. When we rebranded ourselves, we did so around the fact that the real business of data centres is people, meaning our business and the way we operate is very much powered by people.
“We see ourselves as partners to our customers and we work closely with them in ensuring that we are helping them drive business growth. As their partners, our job is to understand the needs of their seven industries and to plan and respond accordingly to ensure that these needs can be met.”
1-Net ultimately aims to deliver consistent service and customer experience regardless of data centre choice in different countries as long as they are part of the Company’s business alliance partners’ facilities.
“We are committed to a standardised approach in all 1-Net data centres, to provide our customers with a consistent experience, regardless of the geographical differences,” Ang concludes.