Southeast Asia data centre guide 2022: country by country

From just one to dozens, IT’s options for data centres across Southeast Asia vary widely.

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The deployment of data centres in the nations of Southeast Asia varies enormously: from hundreds in the most economically and technologically advanced nations to zero the least developed.

There is also a divergence in policy. Many nations are actively seeking data centre investments and have tax and other incentives to attract investment. By contrast, Singapore has become increasingly concerned about the power and land requirements of data centres and has imposed a moratorium on the use of state land for data centres. However, there are now signs that this is being wound back.

Here is Network World Asia’s guide to data centres in Southeast Asia.

Data centres in Brunei Darussalam

Brunei Darussalam has one data centre. It was built by US-based Level 3 Communications, which was acquired by Centrelink in 2016. Centrelink rebranded as Lumen Technologies in 2020. However, its Brunei data centre is now owned by the Brunei government through its wholly owned Unified National Networks (UNN), a company formed in late 2018 to offer wholesale telecommunication services to both national and foreign clients.

In September 2019, UNN took over all network infrastructure operated by the existing telecommunications service providers “in an effort to … deliver highly resilient and quality services to the whole nation”, per its website. UNN offers colocation, cloud hosting, and internet exchange services.

Data centres in Cambodia

The Chaktomuk Data Centre claims to be the only Tier 3 data centre in Cambodia. There are several other data centres in the country, all operated by local companies and all located in the capital Phnom Penh: HT Networks, Global Tech Exchange, MekongNet, and Seatel, a mobile network operator.

Global Tech Exchange’s data centre was built by Vertiv, RMO Technology, and Tesk Green. It claims to be compliant with Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) 942 standards for efficiency and availability.

Another local company, iOneCloud, offers cloud computing services for small and medium enterprises. However, it does not specify whether these are provided from its own data centre.

In late 2018, a joint venture between Cambodian IT company Te Aikhong Enterprise, Cambodia’s Kepstar Data Centre Management, and Malaysian company Fourtitude Asia announced plans to build what was claimed would be to Cambodia’s largest data centre near Phnom Penh, at a cost of US$70 million.

Kepstar’s website talks only of plans for pair of carrier-neutral data centres with a combined capacity of 10MW and 1,600 racks. The 110,000-square-foot Kepstar DC1 facility in Phnom Penh will supply 6.5MW of critical IT load, while the 50,000-square-foot Kepstar DC2 facility 100km from Phnom Penh will provide 3.5MW of critical IT load.

Data centres in Hong Kong

According to Mordor Intelligence, China’s Hong Kong city-province is one of the critical data centre locations in the Asia-Pacific region due to low tax rates, low electricity costs, and rich network capability. Datacenter News says Hong Kong is the third most attractive data centre region in the entire Asia-Pacific region. Hong Kong, a territory was rated sixth in the 2022 edition, the second highest location in Asia after Singapore, a nation, at No. 3. Commercial real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield’s 2022 Global Data Center Market Comparison ranks Hong Kong globally as the No. 5 city for data centres, and as No. 2 in Asia-Pacific (after city-state Singapore).

The Hong Kong government has a strong focus on data centres. The Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (OGCIO) hosts a Data Centre Facilitation Unit and operates the website datacentre.gov.hk to provide information and assistance on data centre development in Hong Kong. An OCCIO fact sheet says the government encourages the use of industrial buildings for data centres and has put in place incentive measures to facilitate redevelopment and conversion, in whole or in part, of industrial buildings into data centres.

Mordor Intelligence says nearly all the central cloud and hosting service providers globally have established a presence in Hong Kong. According to Datacenters.com, there are 20 providers and 40 data centres in Hong Kong. They include 38 colocation facilities, 28 cloud nodes, 13 internet exchanges, and nine disaster-recovery and business-continuity (DRBC) sites. Another list, compiled by Baxtel, has the number at 51.

In March 2021 Global Switch completed what it claimed to be Hong Kong’s largest data centre with 70,000 square metres of space.

Data centres in Indonesia

According to datacentermap.com, there are 53 colocation data centres across Indonesia, as follows: Ambon (1), Bandung (4), Batam (2), Bogor (1), Denpasar (1), Jakarta (31), Kupang (1), Makassar (1), Manokwari (1), Mataram (1), Medan (2), Palembang (1), Pekanbaru (1), and Surabaya (5). Cloudscene, however, lists 64.

Cushman & Wakefield’s 2022 Global Data Center Market Comparison singled out Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta, for special mention. It said Jakarta had been “the big story for cloud entry” in 2021, going from having only one of the big three data centre operators—AWS, Google, and Microsoft—present to having all three. As part of that growth, NTT announced in March 2022 that it would build a third data centre in Jakarta by 2024, with an initial capacity of 15.2W which is expected to grow over time to 45MW. Jakarta came in 10th in its ranking of data centre cities. 

Datacenterknowldege.com, in mid-2021 said the Jakarta data centre market would almost triple in size within five years, driven primarily by hyperscale cloud platforms.

Building digital infrastructure including data centres is one of the 10 national priories under the Indonesian government’s Making Indonesia 4.0 plan to make the country one of the top 10 global economies by 2030.

Data centres in Laos

Laos’s first data centre, in the capital Vientiane, was built as a demonstration project by a consortium comprising Japanese consortium involving internet service provider Internet Initiative Japan and trading company Toyota Tsusho, with funding from the Japanese government. It was handed over to the Laotian government in 2018. It is a modular data centre, housed in shipping containers.

A local company, LaoDC, also operates a data centre in Vientiane. Construction on this project started in 2018.

Data centres in Malaysia

Malaysia has 32 data centres, spread around the country, according to Data Center Map: Bayan Baru (1), Cyberjaya (15), Ipoh (1), Johor Bahru (3), Kuala Lumpur (7), Labuan (1), Mukim Labu (1), and Selangor (3). Cloudscene puts the number at 44.

Cushman & Wakefield’s 2022 Global Data Center Market Comparison says the Malaysian market is worth US$800 million and growing at 8% annually.

Malaysia has long competed with Singapore as a preferred location for hyperscale data centre operators. The Cushman & Wakefield 2022 report of cities has Malaysia’s city-state neighbor Singapore in second place globally and at No. in Asia-Pacific. Malaysia’s main city, Kuala Lumpur, does not make the top 10 but is ranked as one of the top markets offering incentives, a list which does not include Singapore.

In the Chushman & Wakefield report, Kuala Lumpur was singled out for offering benefits to those using renewable energy for their projects, When rated for taxes, Kuala Lumpur was in fourth position and Singapore in eighth.

Malaysia aims to become a digital hub, and the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) has a number of initiatives designed to support this goal. Data centre operators purchasing any energy-efficient product or solution for their data centre gain an investment tax allowance. Also, spurring on the data centre industry in the country is a government goal to have 80% of government agencies’ IT in the cloud by 2023.

MIDA does not list any more significant incentives but does claim to have been effective in attracting foreign direct investment to transform the economic development of Malaysia, listing NTT’s opening of its fifth data centre in the country and, in 2020, Microsoft building its first data centre in the country as evidence of its successes. Microsoft was followed by AWS and Google; both in 2021 announced plans for hyperscale data centres in Malaysia.

In March 2022 AWS signed a cloud framework agreement with the Malaysian government and with local partner Radmik Solutions to help accelerate cloud adoption in the public sector.

Data centres in Myanmar

Myanmar has four data centres, one each from Myanmar public company Myanmar ICT Development, Campana Mythic, True Internet Data Centre Myanmar, and Myint & Associates Telecommunications.

Myint & Associates Telecommunications already operates what it claims to be the country’s first Uptime Institute-certified Tier 3 data centre, in Yangon. And Myanmar ICT Development , a Myanmar public company claims to be building an Uptime Institute-certified Tier 3 data centre in Yangon with help from Japanese experts. Thai company True Internet Data Centre (True IDC) also operates a data centre in Yangon.

Another company, Singapore-based Burst Myanmar, is shown on several websites as having a data centre in Myanmar but its website no longer exists. It gained Tier 4 certification several years agom with the Uptime institute showing the certificate expiring in 2019.

Data centres in Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea company Datec, a subsidiary of the PNG company Steamships Trading, has operated a data centre in the capital, Port Moresby, for at least 10 years. State-owned PNG Dataco, founded in 2014, opened a data centre in Port Moresby in late 2021.

Huawei built a data centre for the PNG government in Port Moresby in 2018, funded through a US$53 million development loan from China’s Exim Bank. It became a global embarrassment for the company in 2020 when the Australian Financial Review got hold of an Australian government review of the centre commissioned by PNG’s National Cyber Security Centre which claimed Huawei had used outdated encryption software and firewall settings which were insufficient for a centre designed to store the entire data archive of the PNG government. Huawei said the centre “complied with appropriate industry standards and the requirements of the customer”.

Data centres in the Philippines

While Singapore and Indonesia have been the preferred location for most hyperscale data centres, the Philippines is also now becoming a potential big provider in the market.

In September 2021, the Philippines Government Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) launched a campaign to make the country “the next strategic hyperscale hub in the Asia-Pacific region”.

Trade Secretary Ramon M Lopez said, “After being widely recognized as the outsourcing capital of the world, this is the natural next step for the Philippines as our country now has all the necessary elements in place to make this happen.” He touted a range of government incentives which he said would attract data centre builders.

February 2022 saw a flurry of activity in the Philippines data centre industry. Space DC, a Singapore-based data centre operator, announced plans to build what it claimed would be the largest hyperscale data centre in the Philippines, in Cainta in Greater Manila. It will have an area of 43,000 square metres and will use 100% green power. Announcing Space DC’s plan, its CEO said the Philippines was a dramatically underserved market, with only 43MW of data centre capacity. Space DC’s planned data centre with a claimed 72MW would more than double this.

Two weeks after Space DC’s announcement, Indian software developer Beeinfotechopened the Hive, claiming it to be the country’s largest carrier-neutral data centre.

And Philippines real estate company Santos Knight Frank has formed a joint venture with YCO Cloud Centers, itself a joint venture between Filipino group JJYnchausti and Cloud Centers, a US based data centre advisory and development firm, to announce plans for a data centre in the Light Industry and Science Park IV in Batangas, south of Manila. The facility is scheduled to come into service in mid-2023.

Data centres in Singapore

While almost every major economy is doing its best to attract data centres Singapore—long seen as the data centre capital of the region, with some 60% of the total—has gone in the opposite direction.

In 2019, the Singapore government imposed a moratorium on the development of data centres on state land while it conducted a review. The government was concerned about a shortage of land and about data centre energy consumption and contribution to global warming. Singapore, by some accounts, has more than 100 data centres, together consuming 1GW of power, 7% of Singapore’s total electricity consumption.

But in January 2022, the government indicated the moratorium would soon be relaxed. Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong told Parliament,“While we continue to welcome data centre investments, we intend to be more selective of which data centres we can accommodate. In particular, we seek anchor data centres which are best in class in terms of resource efficiency, which can contribute towards Singapore’s economic and strategic objectives.”

Data centres in Thailand

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