If latency in network speeds can somehow be reduced, then high-speed transactions will be possible. That is the thinking behind NTT Com Asia’s soon to be realised financial datacentre or FDC, which on schedule to completion in the first quarter of 2013, right in the centre of Hong Kong’s financial district.
According to NTT Com Asia’s chief strategy officer, the plans for the FDC was laid down as early as 2009. “At that time, we surveyed the entire Asian market and noticed one key trend — the ‘field of influence’ of datacentres,” said Lee. “What it means is, a single Internet datacentre sited in Hong Kong could serve a wide geographical area, covering countries as far as Singapore or elsewhere. This trend was driving the growth of NTT Communications datacentres in different parts of the world.”
Despite the ability of the datacentres to cater to various demands from customers from many areas, NTT Communications soon found its datacentres in Hong Kong working at full capacity, forcing it to look at expansion plans. “Back in 2009, at that time, one of our datacentres that was newly built started to fill up very quickly,” said Lee. “When we did the plan for expansion, we looked at why we needed to build another datacentre and what type of datacentre that would be.”
The world was experiencing an economic slowdown then, but Asian companies were still experiencing growth and investing in IT resources. Lee believed that much of the growth would come from the financial services industry, and decided to work towards a plan to expand NTT Communications' datacentre resources for that industry.
“We found out that Internet datacentres and financial datacentres are very different from each other in one perspective,” Lee explained. “IDC tends to be hosted in a location where there are many Internet ‘blackboxes’, and they are likely to be in an environment where electricity supply is cheap, and the climate is a cool, so that the efficiency is higher in terms of power utilisation.”
For an FDC, because it is focused for financial companies, it is likely to be close to the market where the liquidity is high and trading is vibrant. There is where one will find a high concentration of financial institutions regardless of whether the trading hub is in a tropical city like Hong Kong or Singapore, said Lee. “Banks care about reliability and latency between their servers and the stock exchange. This is the reason why they would be… that there is demand for FDCs,” Lee added.
“In fact, in Asia, there are not many as compared to Europe and North America. By asset comparison, in the U.S. there are around US$1.5 billion worth of FDCs. In Europe, that’s about 1.5 billion euros. In Asia, you can't easily order a financial class datacentre or one with Tier 4 certification. This is another reason why we made the decision to help Asia upgrade its telecom and IT infrastructure to meet future needs.”
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