Experts discuss how data centre demands are shaping the APAC market

Experts discuss how data centre demands are shaping the APAC market

DC Byte, a leading data centre research and analytics platform, has shared insights from its Q1 2022 data centre report, published in partnership with Knight Frank, a leading global property adviser.

For 2022, DC Byte and Knight Frank have adopted a fresh approach for the report, focusing on a larger number of markets, reflecting the dynamic nature of the industry. The new format is designed to provide a greater level of detail and insight on each of the markets included and the region in focus for each quarter.

The Q1 2022 report covers nine data centre markets in Asia Pacific (APAC), including both established hubs such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Sydney, Shanghai and Tokyo; and the hyper growth markets of Seoul, Mumbai, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur, to provide a wide-ranging view of the region.

According to the report, the APAC market saw growth in supply of 488MW, bringing the total in the region to in excess of 8.7GW. 203MW of capacity was absorbed in Q1 largely due to public cloud activity; a number significantly higher than the average 127MW per quarter, as previously observed in 2021.

Much of the additional capacity came from Tokyo, Seoul and Sydney; with the latter crossing the gigawatt threshold that quarter. In contrast, Singapore and Hong Kong have seen more muted levels of activity in Q1.

The report also looks at the impact that changes in data sovereignty laws are having on the distribution of demand for data centres across the world.

“It’s great to see that the main data centre markets in APAC are continuing to demonstrate resilience and adaptability,” said Ed Galvin, Founder and CEO at DC Byte. “The general trend in the region is extremely positive with demand drivers strengthening.”

“Despite significant headwinds – the legacy of COVID, geopolitical turmoil and rising inflation – the Asia Pacific region continues to register strong data centre growth,” said Ben Stirk, Co-head of Global Data Centres at Knight Frank. “The fundamentals support this trajectory, with Asia the most populous continent and a region where Digital Transformation is accelerating at pace. There is tremendous hyperscale growth potential underpinned by domestic demand. This combined with the continued reopening of economies and the loosening of restrictive regulation means further above-trend growth can be expected moving forward.”

Intelligent Data Centres spoke to industry experts about how data centre demands are shaping the APAC market and how they are responding to its evolving success…

Walid Issa, Senior Manager, PreSales and Solutions Engineering – Middle East, NetApp

There have been many factors impacting IT and Digital Transformation worldwide, in addition to new technologies and trends like AI, IoT and Big Data which has accelerated and increased the demand for more data centres to house the massive amount of data and services across the globe. This has created challenges and put pressure on other facilities like electric consumption, cooling, space management, physical security, etc.

With more and more data centres and with the massive growth in data and the speed at which businesses operate today mean that traditional data centre operational activities like manual monitoring, troubleshooting and remediation may be slow to be effective and can put businesses at risk. This means more hardware and software tools like automation to be able to deliver services at a much faster pace. Data centre automation will increase agility and operational efficiency. It will reduce the time IT needs to perform routine tasks and enable them to deliver services on-demand in a repeatable, automated manner but the challenge is always more space, more power, more hardware and more resources.

The idea here is to leverage the cloud and hence ‘build your data centre in the cloud’. However, you have to make sure to do it using a standardised data architecture. Building a standardised data architecture will help you set unified standards that govern which data is collected and how it’s stored, integrated and used. Once you have a solid data architecture, you can extend data centres into the cloud. And when freed from the complexity of the different data control planes, managing and administering many workloads across clouds becomes drastically simpler. Enterprises can benefit from each cloud provider’s features without sacrificing operational predictability. This means that firms can now confidently move business-critical applications and enterprise-grade storage services which formerly would have required rearchitecting to public clouds. Remember that the leading cloud platforms not only support huge infrastructure requirements for applications (including virtual machines and container management systems), but they also provide global autoscaling. This capability has enabled organisations to migrate their data centre applications to cloud platforms.

So, have a standardised data architecture making your entire operation better, faster and stronger. Leverage that to build a sound data services stack that creates cohesion in your infrastructure and your day-to-day operations and now you can build your data centre in the cloud.

Barry Lewington, Director, PTS Consulting

The APAC market is the fastest global growing market region and is expected to grow at a rate of 8%. It’s a region that expands from the cold north through the hot and humid countries around the equator down to the southern cities of Australia. Data centre design and build requirements can vary greatly as climates assist or challenge the facility designer.

This has developed an opportunity for the smaller data centre providers to explore the adoption of new innovative ways of providing cooling services and, in many cases, utilising the cooler temperatures to use free cool air as part of their cooling solution. One such facility in Australia has even adopted a full free cool air policy for its services.

At the core of the facility provision is the customers’ IT systems and with development of new compliant products from the manufacturers, the data centre providers are starting to implement complimentary solutions such as cooling direct to the device and immersion cooling.

Immersion cooling tears up the traditional design of the data centre – there’s no longer a need for the traditional demands of air cooling, or slab to slab height we have become accustomed to as IT systems are immersed in baths of fluid and run at greater temperatures with the warm fluid pumped directly out to external heat exchangers.

With a traditional data centre facility market where designs have not materially changed for 35 years, this could be the paradigm shift of the data centre design we have all been waiting for. We still have a long way to go – we’ve been on this journey before convincing the market that this is the new norm. We still need the development of global standards, communications and education of the markets, mass procurement of new models of IT hardware that drive down costs. We may have a model that will simplify the data centre design and bring down the construction costs for all. Its early stages and there are exemplary implementations taking place up and down the region that can be used in educating the market on the successes.

This will certainly simplify the design of the data centre computer room of the future, with the challenges of laying out equipment to reduce hot spots removed. We have a long way to go but we know that IT evolution is a cyclic journey and through experience we’re aware it takes time. Let’s enjoy the journey – we have been waiting long enough for this.

Sebastian Krueger, Vice President for Asia Pacific at Paessler

Digital Transformation journeys were once considered a multi-year evolution, but now they’ve been dramatically compressed due to the urgency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Demand for data centres in Asia Pacific has skyrocketed due to the widespread adoption of digital communication tools in the cloud and e-commerce.

The last two or so years have shown us that data centres have become the essential infrastructure many businesses now need. With organisations continuing to work remotely and many migrating to the cloud, data centre companies and managed service providers (MSP) have had to respond to the increased demand and adapt how they deliver their services so their customers can stay agile.

We’ve seen an increase in smaller data centres being established in Asia Pacific by MSPs for their clients and this has driven the need to monitor these facilities in terms of both whether the technical equipment is functioning at optimal levels and also how physical aspects could impact its performance, such as humidity, heat and vibration.

This is where Paessler comes in. Using our PRTG Hosted Monitoring system, we can ensure that all of the technical equipment, such as the racks of servers, as well as the cooling systems, are functioning as they should be with hundreds of sensors deployed across an entire data centre that will send alerts if anything needs attention.

We are seeing a real focus on sustainability and energy consumption in every country in the APAC region. The Singaporean Government, for example, has set limits on the number of new data centres permitted due to environmental impact concerns and other countries may follow suit. As a result, data centre managers in this region believe that sustainability will significantly impact their operations and decision-making going forward so we need to be cognisant of this.

If data centre managers had visibility of their energy usage data, this would enable them to add transformational business value, maximise efficiency and reduce waste. Paessler can monitor and report on energy usage for every rack in the data centre, which is valuable information for most organisations that need to report on energy usage due to the requirement to reduce emissions on our journey towards the goal of net zero.

Natalya Makarochkina, Schneider Electric – Senior Vice President, Secure Power Division, International Operations

The data centre market in the APAC region is particularly vibrant, with a mix of developmental factors. The hyperscalers are growing rapidly, with one source estimating a CAGR of 7% in that sector towards 2027. Particular centres of activity include Tokyo, Sydney, and Seoul, with Singapore also seeing renewed activity on the ending of its previous moratorium. Knight Franks reports that the region saw an increase of 488 MW of new capacity in Q1 2022, up from 185 MW in the previous quarter, bringing total capacity to more than 8,700 MW. In fact, a DC Bytes report said that the APAC region had surpassed EMEA in terms of growth rate in 2021.

There is also significant development outside of the hyperscaler market, with major co-location operators investing in facilities. These include Airtrunk Operating; Chindata; Colt Data Centre Services; Digital Realty; Equinix; GDS Services and ST Telemedia Global Data Centres.

This demand is being driven by multiple factors, as the region moves beyond the pandemic, but also in light of global supply chain pressures from disruption and reconfiguration. Customers are looking increasingly for business resiliency, while accelerating Digital Transformation, with innovation as a business catalyst and all while adapting to changes in working culture. These trends are all driving demand for more, new, flexible digital services from partners and service providers.

The constant backdrop to all of this is sustainability and the key element of which is transparent, common metrics and reporting standards to allow operators and customers to know their full impact. Schneider Electric has done a lot of work to ensure that data centre operators can measure, manage and improve sustainability with established frameworks to facilitate like-for-like comparisons. White Paper 67 provides a guide to environmental sustainability metrics for data centres.

Meeting the demand across hyperscalers and co-location providers requires a different approach to previous development waves. Speed of deployment will be key and modular builds with pre-certified designs and preconfigured stacks will be a vital fast, cost-effective, scalable alternative to the traditional data centre.

Intelligence from analysts Tech Research Asia highlights that 30% of firms across the Asia Pacific are already doing Edge Computing. As a major element driving data centre demand in the region is the accelerating digitalisation of traditional industries, as well as emerging high-tech manufacturing, this means new Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) implementations extending visibility and monitoring into new areas. Supporting this is the emerging Industrial Edge, providing a seamless network from sensor to data centre, turning industrial data into business intelligence. For example, Schneider Electric, with its growing network of partners and providers, has the international knowledge and regional experience to guide customers through this next phase of digital infrastructure development.

Despite global challenges, the APAC region is powering ahead of other markets, driven by demand that itself is evolving rapidly. We believe that with a strong sustainability proposition throughout our offerings, supported by regional partners with deep local knowledge, we have the right approach and breadth of portfolio to help the region achieve its strong development potential.

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