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Jakarta Post

Getting data centers ready for booming digital economy

  • Dennis Kom


Singapore   /   Mon, November 25, 2019   /   10:27 am
Getting data centers ready for booming digital economy Illustration of a data center. (Shutterstock/sdecoret)

Southeast Asia (SEA) has clinched the top spot globally as the mobile economy hot spot, taking over giant economies like China. This is due to the growth in smartphone penetration in this region, which is touted as the gateway to mobile commerce. In a report written by Facebook IQ and Bain & Company, an average of 82 percent of the population in Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia owned smartphones in 2018, and this number is expected to rise to 105 percent by 2022.

Indonesia has the world’s highest mobile e-commerce penetration rate. In January 2018, 76 percent of its internet users bought something via mobile devices. This does not come as a surprise, and the archipelago’s digital economy is expected to be the largest in Southeast Asia. According to the annual e-Conomy Southeast Asia study by Google, Temasek and Bain & Company, its market value is expected to triple to US$300 billion by 2025, driven by the rise of e-commerce, ride-hailing and online gaming.

That said, the lack of robust digital infrastructure is a hurdle both the public and private sectors in Indonesia need to overcome in order to realize this billion-dollar potential. According to Gartner, Indonesia spends lesser in building digital infrastructure compared to its neighbors like Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. In order to reap the full benefits of digital transformation, investing in ICT is key, especially data center and network capabilities as these are backbones to successful implementation of innovative technologies.

In-house or multi-tenant data center operators need to brace themselves for the surging volume of data and the growing expectations of a seamless digital experience. Here are three considerations businesses need to look into when optimizing their facilities to meet future needs.

1. Is the data center scalable and future proof?

With digitization comes the proliferation of data and apart from storing them securely, businesses also need to ensure a seamless experience and reduce any risk for downtime. It is essential for data centers to have the ability to scale as and when needed, and to meet the ever-evolving customer, business and application needs. This flexibility will support future bandwidth and transmission speeds required by customers and end-users, enabling operators to meet future capacity needs seamlessly.

One innovation operators can leverage to optimize their data center is a Base-8 optical cabling system. While Base-12 connectivity has served the data center industry well for almost 20 years, makers of transceiver, switch, server and storage solutions are already using and developing transceiver types based on Base-8 connectivity.

For Ethernet transmission ranging from 40G to 400G, all roads lead to two-fiber and eight-fiber connectivity solutions. With the ability to maximize per rack density and provide competitive advantage when scaling, Base-8 connectivity enables 100 percent fiber utilization without the need to purchase conversion modules and minimizes total cost of ownership (TCO). As a result, deploying a future-ready Base-8 design as a data center connectivity solution will enable simple, efficient and cost-effective migration to speeds of 40, 100 and even 400G.

2. Is the data center equipped to reduce latency?

Lagging and delays are “luxuries” service providers can no longer afford, especially in a highly digitized, mobile-first era. As data centers need to connect to each other to share and process data before transmitting a response back to the requesting device, the challenge is to reduce latency or delays incurred during the transfer. Mission-critical applications stipulate that the latency of response from the data center needs to be 10 times better than what exists today.

Data center interconnect technology can help to enable fast transmission of data over long distances between data centers. Using advanced optical fiber that combines both ultra-low-loss (ULL) and larger effective areas, the range of data center interconnect links can be extended by up to 25 percent, enabling access to approximately 50 percent more data center locations compared to typical single-mode fiber.

This not only enables greater access to suburban customers but also opens up more options for data center locations and increased network resilience to power outages.

With efficient long-haul data center interconnects, the number of regenerators needed can be minimized and amplification sites eliminated, even as higher data rate upgrades with more stringent Optical Signal-To-Noise Ratio (OSNR) requirements are planned.

3. Is the data center architecture ready to facilitate faster movement of data?

Data center operators are increasingly replacing the traditional 3-tier network with 2-tier spine-and-leaf architecture as it facilitates faster movement of data across physical links in the network. Opting a spine-and-leaf architecture dramatically increases the number of fibers required to serve interconnection in the data center campus.

To reap the reduced latency benefits of spine-and-leaf, the core challenge for data centers is to optimize the physical infrastructure’s existing duct space and install fibers with higher fiber-count. Today, higher fiber counts of 3,456 fibers are now available, and fit within standard 2-inch duct systems, in place of the standard 864-fiber cables.

These extreme-density ribbon cables contain up to 700 percent more fibers than traditional loose tube cables. With such high fiber counts, they offer greater packing density and enable efficient use of limited duct space. This way, migration to a 2-tier spine-and-leaf can be achieved without large capital investment. Installation and cable restoration in the event of cuts is also faster, thus greatly reducing the cost of installation, manpower deployment and downtime.

As Indonesia inches toward realizing its potential as a digital economy giant, businesses and operators need to ensure their data center facilities leverage today’s enabling technologies for a next-generation data center that is ready for the demands of the future. They also need to look into scalability to ensure the infrastructure is capable of growing as needed, without bringing too much impact to the total cost of ownership. Data center operators who design their infrastructure to meet future capacity needs will find themselves ahead of the game no matter how fast things change.


Director — Global & Strategic Accounts, Asia Pacific, Enterprise Networks, Corning Optical Communications

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of The Jakarta Post.