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The ASEAN approach to data centers

CSF has aggressive plans to expand its footprint in Asia, and to turn the ASEAN region into a major data center hub

17 October 2012 by Penny Jones - DatacenterDynamics

With growing economies and a youth culture increasingly adopting mobile technologies, countries in South East Asia hold much promise for the data center industry, according to Wong Ka Vin, managing director of CSF Asia, a company with ambitious data center plans for the region.

Speaking with FOCUS the day before a presentation at DatacenterDynamics Converged Singapore, he said CSF wants to create a new data center hub for the region, capitalizing on the growth of Singapore and a gap in the market that no large players have yet filled.

“ASEAN (the Association of South East Asian Nations) is becoming more and more the economic hub of Asia,” Wong said.

“It balances out the developed economies of Japan and Korea and the workhorse of China. I call the south the new Asia – it is the young blood.”

Wong said while large players have started entering the market with colocation facilities, few have entered – with the exception of players in Singapore - with sizable scale. This is where CSF believes the sweet spot for the Malaysia-based operator – which already has three very large facilities in that country – exists.

“If you analyse the data center industry in Asia Pacific [you will find] there is no single player. That is ubiquitous across South Asia. You get your super big guys in each country, but when they start to go out as a data center operator, because investments are so heavy, they don’t are not that big,” Wong said.

He said it is only recently that large telcos have really started showing interest, with NTT starting to invest heavily in the region and Singtel, which has a very large presence. Bu CSF’s offering, which is also attracted telecommunications players that see the benefit in colocation, is in approaching these markets with a “truly ASEAN brand”.

Building out in ASEAN

CSF group started by building computer rooms and Wong joined the company two years ago after working with Equinix on its Asian growth to develop data centers in Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore, that will capitalize on the success of Singapore.

His aim is to build on the success of Singapore – a country with strong fiber connections - as a data center hub, extending the boundaries of this to include the entire ASEAN region though local partnerships where required.

“I see the value of having infrastructure the can be unified across multiple geographies,” Wong said.

CSF first started in Kuala Lumpur and is listed on the London Stock Exchange.

It recently went live with a 200,000 sq ft, eight storey data center in Jakarta called Cyber-CSF which runs a data center called CXJ that has 100,000 sq ft of whitespace that it hopes will be on day Tier III certified.

It partnered with local property developer for CXJ, and is using the concerns about the country’s reliability of power supply as a plus, building a data center Wong said will have its own substation.

He said by not relying 100% on the grid, the colocation sales pitch for CSF is made even stronger in this emerging market. Already the data center has become populated with the operations of telecommunications and financial services players.

Wong said the Jakarta market for data centres has grown as the use of Internet has taken off in the country.

“Indonesia is now the darling of most investors, US and Europe, and I believe the economy has strengthened after the Asian financial crisis back in 1998/1999. If you look at where it is heading, they have what you call a uniquely very Indonesian way of doing business. They deregulated a bit of the internal network and as a result, a year and a half ago, there was a significant shift in internet pricing and that led to lots of users connecting into the network,” Wong said, adding that Jarkata also has strong fiber connections throughout the city.

Growth plans

CSF Group has also acquired space in Singapore to build another data center of the same size as the Jarkarta build, but with not so many storeys. This will also be a greenfield build using a modular design similar to CXJ and will go live in Q3, 2014.

And it is currently in talks with a partner in Bangkok, Thailand, to build a similar facility there.

“Adjacent data centers and connecting data centres is crucial today,” Wong said, adding that this approach goes further than pure redundancy.

“If you look at the evolving cloud technology that is coming in, cloud needs the kind of infrastructure we are talking about. For it to work it needs the data center to be highly connected, not just incidentally – we are talking gigabits of connection between data centres,” Wong said.

“This is a nice way of developing a business that will create sustainable value in what we do.”

Wong Ka Vin, managing director of CSF Asia, will be presenting more on his ASEAN goals and the regions challenges at DatacenterDynamics Converged Singapore, which starts tomorrow, at the Marina Bay Sands.