A Rat-ical Approach to the Data Center Environment in Singapore

Yee May Leong

We have come to the end of what I believe is the most innovative decade, filled with unprecedented levels of innovation that are constantly disrupting the way we work, live and play. In the past ten years,  social media has gone from a mere curiosity to being integrated into nearly every part of our daily lives – nowadays, we are posting nearly everything on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram: “I’m doing this for the “gram!” Not to mention, streaming services in the late 2000s have also transformed the way we watch TV!

As we are in the Lunar Year of the Rat, I can’t help but think that it is a very exciting time to be experiencing all the technological marvels that have emerged in the past 10 years. It’s additionally thrilling to be taking in all these right at the heart of Asia-Pacific – a region so culturally diverse and one of the strongest in terms of network infrastructure and connectivity.

Riding the wave of Asia-Pacific growth

By now, everyone has their eyes set on Asia-Pacific, thanks to the explosive growth of the data center market. Singapore is at the center of all these actionswith its strategic location, solid government initiatives that encourage international businesses to set root on its island, a talented workforce, and not to mention its ongoing Smart Nation initiatives. Singapore has positioned itself as a natural and undisputed data center hub in the region.

However, this comes with its own sets of challenges. As a leading interconnection company in Singapore that enables customers to be part of a rich industry ecosystem, Equinix is taking a ‘rat-ical’ approach to navigating through this crossroads. While we are continuing to expand our footprint, we are committed to designing, building and operating our International Business ExchangeTM (IBX®) data centers responsibly.

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Singapore is a thriving financial hub

Singapore has the benefit of being located in the thriving South-east Asian region – despite a potential economy slowdown, Asia’s GDP is set to be the world’s largest GDP in 2020, with a further expected contribution amounting to approximately 60% of global growth.[1]

Moreover, due to the massive amounts of activities in the region, Singapore has become Asia’s biggest foreign-exchange (FX) currency hub. The uptick in FX trading volumes in Singapore has boosted interests and confidence in Singapore as a trading hub, further contributing to its economic growth. This growing velocity of data exchange is driving an increased demand for reliable, low-latency interconnection solutions that will provide instant and direct access to key financial markets.

At Equinix, we are experiencing growing momentum within the FX trading ecosystem in our International Business Exchange™ (IBX®) campus in Singapore. Case in point, in December 2019, Equinix announced that our strategic partnership with Vietnamese telco provider FPT, has successfully propelled blockchain-enabled cryptocurrency trading platform provider MTX to expand into overseas markets via Singapore. These are all positive signs that Singapore is making progress and is on track to retaining its status as a major hub in the region and in the world.

Need for land vs. hunger for sustainability

Many factors have made Singapore a prime business location for companies around the world, resulting in the surge in demand for cloud-based services. In 2019, we saw tech giants such as Google, Alibaba Group and Amazon Web Services (AWS) expanding their cloud infrastructure footprint in Singapore. With the data center marketing growing rapidly in land-scarce Singapore, we are beginning to see signs of saturation due to the expected high demand over limited supply of data center space.

With such strong demands for cloud-based services driving the data center market in Singapore and across the Asia-Pacific region, sustainability within the data center market in land- and resource-scarce Singapore has become a critical strategic initiative for the future generation.

As the Singapore government is looking for ways to address this demand, Equinix is also exploring ways to collaborate with local authorities and companies to address these seemingly conflicting goals – the energy and space needs of new data center developments and the facilities that needed to be sustainable.

Operating green across the region

The approach Equinix is taking is to join forces with partners and local authorities on a committed path to achieve clean and renewable energy across our global operations. This is the same approach we’re taking with local authorities in Singapore. Our track record reveals that all our data centers in Singapore have received the SS 564 certification for Green Data Centers – SG1 is certified for the BCA-IDA Green Mark for Data Centers, while SG2 and SG3 have received the prestigious GoldPLUS and Platinum ratings, respectively.

We’ve pursued this sustainability approach in our operations across the world. In AP, with 76% of our energy consumption across the region being clean and renewable, we are on track to make progress against our 100% renewable energy goal. Equinix has also adopted features that improve energy efficiency in our facilities – such as solar energy system that powers non-essential operations at SG3 in Singapore.

Our planet is facing crucial challenges such as climate change – as seen from the Australian bush fires – and other environmental risks. As a business, it is heartening to see people and communities come together to connect with purpose, collectively accomplishing more than what Equinix alone can do. As such, we are looking forward to further talks with the Singapore government and playing an active role in the growing data center market in the region.  To learn more about our sustainability efforts, please read our sustainability report.

As a leader in the data center hub in Asia-Pacific, we are in a key position to influence the data center market developments in Singapore and in the region. Playing up our strengths, I’m certain that Singapore will overcome its challenges and we will continue to emerge as a better and even more attractive data center market and region in the new Year of the Rat.

[1]https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/12/asia-economic-growth/