US Data Firm Eyes Singapore For Asia-Pac HQ

The American tech firm IO will sharply increase its investment here as it moves to make Singapore the centre of its operations across the Asia-Pacific – and eventually the world.

Chief executive George Slessman said on September 18 that it is ready to spend up to $70 million more in developing its base here. That expenditure will come on top of the $30 million it has already put into a new data centre that it officially opened in Ang Mo Kio on September 18. Mr Slessman said the new investment will include setting up more equipment and expanding its workforce at the data centre. Its first customer is global financial services firm Goldman Sachs.

Singapore hosts about half of the total data centre capacity in South-east Asia, said Mr Jayson Goh, the Economic Development Board’s executive director of infocomms and media. “Singapore tends to focus on the premium data centre market segment, which includes hosting mission-critical data and cloud computing,” added Mr Goh, who hoped that the country’s role in the industry will expand.

IO’s unique advantage is that it builds both the software and hardware needed for a data centre. IO’s data centre is built in a modular fashion. Each module is a container-like box where all the computers and related equipment like power and networking are built in. This means IO does not need a purpose-built data centre, which needs raised floors to run networking and power cables.

In fact, it did not have to retrofit its Ang Mo Kio facility, a former Seagate manufacturing plant, as it had cement floors and a high ceiling. It was ready for operations after IO added a cooling system that could be plugged into the data centre modules. Mr Adil Attlassy, IO’s executive leader of global operations, said eight modules have been installed in the 140,000 sq ft facility. Only half the space is being used. The rest will be gradually opened when demand increases, allowing a further 122 modules.

Singapore was ranked the third safest place in Asia to site data centres, according to a Data Centre Risk Index report released in June. The ease of doing business here is one reason for Singapore’s rank.

The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore is working with the EDB and JTC Corporation to develop a data centre park, cementing Singapore’s position as an economic and infocomm hub. The park is expected to be operational by early 2016.