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Can seventh rank Mumbai overtake most sensible Asia Pacific knowledge centre Singapore?

By Lee Kah WhyeSingapore, February 7 (ANI): Singapore emerged as the top Asia Pacific data centre in a ranking published in January this year. It tied Silicon Valley for second place with Northern Virginia in the U.S. at the summit.

Global real estate services firm, CushmanWakefield, in its 2022 Data Centre Global MarketComparison report, also revealed that among Asia Pacific data centre markets, only Hong Kong which came in 6th and Sydney (8th) are in the global top ten. Within the Asia Pacific region, Mumbai was ranked at a respectable 7th place after Seoul, Tokyo and Osaka and ahead of Shanghai, Melbourne and Beijing.

As with previous editions, the study assesses data centre markets across the globe within 13 different categories to determine the top overall markets as well as the top performers in each of the 13 categories. These criteria include fibre connectivity, market size, cloud availability, incentives, taxes, political stability, sustainability, and development pipeline. Power cost and land price are also included but have low weightings.

Singapore scored well particularly in the areas of market size, fibre connectivity, vacancy, and smart cities. The city-state also came in for special mention for its pro-business policies such as low tax rates which it ranked 8th globally.

Asia Pacific’s data centre market continues to grow at a relentless pace and is set to become the world’s largest data centre region over the next decade. If all projected developments proceed, CushmanWakefield projects that China will become world’s largest data centre market with India catching up rapidly.

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The COVID pandemic has accelerated digitalisation trends and heightened the need for greater connectivity and bandwidth, increasing demand on cloud computing and data centres. Today, more are working from home, playing online games, and consuming services online like shopping and ordering meals using apps.

As more companies embrace cloud technology, the need for data centres continues to grow, causing major data producing platforms – companies like Google, Amazon,Microsoft, Alibaba, Apple and others–to spread their data centre footprints throughout the world.

The CushmanWakefield report which surveyed a total of 55 markets, said that construction totals continue to grow globally, with 4.1 gigawatts (GW) currently underway in the markets covered, up from 2.9 GW in the previous study and 1.6 GW in the year before that. The largest clients continue to require larger builds, with 100 megawatt campuses becoming increasingly common.

Due to global connectivity, the report added that many of the hyperscalers- the largest occupiers of data centre facilities, usually the global major cloud services providers – that dominate cloud,network and internet services can enter a new or relatively immature market and simply begin amajor build. This has led to the swift development of secondary markets. CushmanWakefield predicts that as primary markets restrict power usage and as sustainability demands put pressure on the industry, secondary and tertiary markets will arrive on the scene and this includes Jakarta, Osaka, Seoul, and several core markets across India.

Another trend expected is the deceleration in the growth of today’s major data centre markets due to energy and environmental concerns. For example, land-constrained Singapore which is not self-sufficient in its energy needs and also limited in its renewable energy options, has a moratorium on new data centres in place since 2019. The release of state land for building data centres was halted temporarily while the government conducted a review on how to grow the data centre industry more sustainably.

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Early this January, the Singapore government announced the results of the review which would put new data centres under more stringent standards of power efficiency. In addition, during the initial 12 to 18 months pilot phase starting in Q2 this year, it will only approve up to 3 applications for data centres.

As of last year, there are a total of 70 operational data centres in Singapore with a total IT capacity of about 1,000 megawatts. Data centres consume huge amounts of electricity for running servers and keeping them cool.In Singapore, data centres accounted for about seven percent of the country’s total electricity consumption in 2020, according to Singapore’s Ministry of Communications and Information.

With limited opportunities to grow in their home market, some Singapore companies such as Singtel and CapitaLand have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in regional data centres such as those in Thailand, Indonesia, China and India.

Indeed, India has seen explosive growth in investments in its data centre markets. In recent months, companies including Singapore’s CapitaLand and Singapore’s ST Telemedia (STT GDC) have announced major data centre projects in India. Google just opened its second India cloud data centre region and Microsoft has started work on its fourth.

The obvious impetus behind this rapid expansion is of course the huge market opportunity within the country which has over 600 million internet users that is projected to grow to 900 million by 2025. A big reason for the increase is the Modi government massive Digital India initiative.

In the recent 2022 Union budget, it was announced that data centres will be given infrastructure status which facilitates cheaper financing for investors. This will not only go towards accelerating India’s digital economy ambitions but also boost the growth of its data centres.

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“The horizon for the data centre industry across the Asia Pacific region is exceptionally bright, thanks to deep hyperscale demand and the billions of dollars in development in progress to support these key tenants,” said Kevin Imboden, CushmanWakefield’s Director of Research for the Data Centre Advisory Group. “The 1.3 gigawatts under construction in the APAC markets reviewed is a small fraction of what is in planning regionally, with much action and growth coming over the next decade.” (ANI)