Technology is Singapore’s Fountain of Youth

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Age is an interesting idea. The American author and humorist, Mark Twain, famously described it as an issue of mind over matter. “If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter,” he said.

However, I think that the father of the automobile industry, Henry Ford, was closer to the mark when he said that anyone who stops learning is old – whether they are twenty or eighty.

50 years young

Looking at Singapore in its 50th anniversary year, it is clear that Ford’s view is just as applicable to cities as it is to individuals. During the last five decades, Singapore has learned to continually re-invent itself, adopting and adapting the latest techniques and technologies to put itself at the top of global league tables. It has proven to be a recipe for success. And if ever there was a country that punched well above its weight economically, Singapore is definitely it!

Since the 1990s, much of Singapore’s development effort has been focused on technology. Initially, much of its attention was directed at manufacturing, producing some of the key components that have driven the information revolution. It has paid off, and according to the ECB, today, Singapore accounts for 1-out-of-10 wafer starts in the world, and 40% of the global hard disc media are manufactured in Singapore.

One of the keys to the Lion City’s ongoing success is the way it has embraced digital technology and made it an integral part of the overall economy. The Singapore Government has nurtured this resource. Through the IDA (Infocomm Development Authority), it is actively promoting and positioning the city as a regional digital hub.

The Government offers tax incentives to encourage more companies to set up regional headquarters in Singapore. That helps IT development as well, because enterprises tend to locate their datacenter’s close to their regional HQ.

There are even tax incentives for companies that re-site their regional IT hub to Singapore, and even more tax relief if they move the CIO position to Singapore. It’s a very entrepreneurial approach.

However, from the government to the stock market (SGX), enterprises to man-in-the-street consumers – the “central nervous system” of the entire city are its data centres, handling large amount of data locally, regionally and globally.

As easy as SG1, 2, 3

Equinix has played a role in the development of the Singapore data centre landscape since we opened our first facility – SG1 – back in 2000. The first step was to attract as many carriers, ISPs and submarine cable operators as possible to terminate their connections there. Today, over 90% of the regional carriers are co-located in our Singapore datacenters, creating the highest network density anywhere in South East Asia.

That makes it very easy for customers to connect to any carrier and any location in the world. In fact, today we have three datacenters in Singapore. The third and newest – SG3 – opened in March 2015 and proved so popular that in August we began the second phase of expansion.

Housed in a brand new, purpose-built building, SG3 features the latest, most-up-to-date technology, which is important, because technology changes so quickly. It also features increased physical security and other enhancements that bring it into line with the latest MAS (Monetary Authority of Singapore) regulations, making it ideal for serving the financial services industry.

Connectivity density is a tremendous competitive edge, for Singapore and for Equinix, and a broad variety of customers take full advantage of it. About 43% of our customers are network customers, carriers and ISPs themselves, while another 10% are content providers, such as search engines and social networks.

Financial services firms, enterprises and government clients account for 23%, while cloud and other IT service providers make up nearly a quarter of customers (24%).

Like Singapore itself, Equinix isn’t slowing down. The Singapore datacenter market represents a US$1 billion opportunity, and it is growing rapidly at 20% a year. To meet the demand for connectivity among businesses, Equinix is continuing to learn and innovate by rolling out best-in-class solutions such as Cloud Exchange. At the same time we are beefing up our Internet Exchange solutions – application and content acceleration, WAN optimization, data centre recovery and business continuity solutions.

Of course, it takes commitment and investment to develop such solutions and learn new skills. But, as Henry Ford pointed out, it’s the best way – and perhaps the only real way – to stay young, dynamic and successful in fast changing market Asian markets.