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Working together to keep data safe

ONE key area where investments and cooperation are moving forward in both Hong Kong and Singapore is in the data centre space.

For example, Malaysian firm Kronologi Asia recently partnered Singapore Technologies Electronics (ST Electronics) to expand in Hong Kong, as part of its strategy to deliver transnational data backup solutions.

Hong Kong will be the second physical point of presence after Singapore for Kronologi, which is catering to the growing demand in Asia for data storage and protection solutions.

The company will invest up to US$2.4 million in new equipment to be installed at ST Electronics' existing data centre in Hong Kong. The group is in advanced discussions with several potential customers and expects to roll out its services in Hong Kong in the second half of 2017.

Demand for data backup is rising with the proliferation of critical data which companies must safeguard as part of efforts to ensure business continuity and compliance.

The partnership with ST Electronics is the first part of a plan that will enable Kronologi to allow customers the option to choose to protect their assets in Singapore and/or Hong Kong.

ST Electronics said its collaboration with Kronologi was a sign of its commitment in strengthening its global offerings while making use of the good infrastructure in Hong Kong, which has a large pool of professionals in infocomm technology as well as great connectivity to many locations in Asia, providing an ideal location to meet clients' growing needs for enhanced data storage and protection services.

Meanwhile, other data centre companies such as CenturyLink also inevitably have operations in both cities. Major companies, such as China Telecom, have also taken advantage of the infrastructure in both cities - the telecoms firm has taken up 27,000 sq ft of space in Hong Kong and 3,500 sq ft in Singapore.

However, each city has its respective constraints. Hong Kong has three new data centres expected to go online in the next three years while Singapore has seven planned. Although Hong Kong has more constraints than Singapore, it has significant spare infrastructure capacity. With data centre space utilisation at more than 50 per cent but power utilisation at less than 50 per cent, the Hong Kong data centre market has plenty of space to grow.

Hong Kong Secretary for Innovation and Technology Nicholas Yang said last December that initiatives are being made to provide more options for operators and added that the city is working hard to create space for new data centres.

He noted that although land is scarce in Hong Kong, the government has made efforts to make available suitable land for data centre development, from greenfield sites to conversion of existing industrial buildings.

PCCW Solutions, the information-technology services arm of telecoms giant PCCW, has been promoting the building of vertical data centre infrastructure on converted industrial sites as a quick way to meet rising demand for these facilities. In 2014, it launched a 16-storey facility converted from an old industrial building in Kwai Chung near the container port.

Related companies such as power generation firm CLP Power have also supported the sector by building up electricity infrastructure in major data-centre locations such as Tseung Kwan O.