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Building Asia’s new Digital Silk Road one Data Centre at a time

Omer Wilson, Senior Director of Marketing - APAC
April 6, 2016

The launch of Digital Loyang Way helps put Singapore at the heart of digital trade

More than two thousand years ago, China’s Han Dynasty launched the Silk Road, a sprawling network of trade routes that linked South and Central Asia with the Middle East and Europe. Today, a new Silk Road links Asia to the world—transferring a very different kind of trade item. Unlike precious Chinese silk, this commodity is invisible and intangible, yet powerful enough to drive the global economy. It is, of course, the growing torrent of data from connected products and devices, which offers huge potential for better customer service and optimised production processes—and thus for greater competitiveness.

At the heart of Asia’s economy
The new ‘Digital Silk Road’ relies on cities or areas that can act as strategic hubs, hosting sophisticated digital assets that ensure data can be easily transferred. These hubs offer an information technology (IT) infrastructure that’s scalable, intelligent and secure, the ability to meet regulatory requirements, and advanced analytics capabilities. In Southeast Asia, the globally recognised hub is Singapore.

For centuries a thriving venue for trade and investment, modern Singapore still retains the assets that made it an important outpost for Sumatra’s Srivijaya empire in the 14th century, and again after Stamford Raffles selected it as a base in 1819: a strategic location at the end of the Malacca Strait and a fine natural harbour.

This location and Singapore’s unparalleled connectivity is one reason why it has become a base for so many global players, who see it as their gateway to the emerging markets that make up the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). By 2020, it’s expected that ASEAN will have a US$3 trillion economy and a population of more than 600 million people. About 100 million of those people will be joining the consuming class for the first time or moving to higher income tiers and will generate US$770 billion in new consumer spending*.

There’s a hunger for digital interaction here, too, including through social media—Bangkok and Jakarta, for instance, are home to some of the most active Facebook users in the world**. More broadly in ASEAN, digital technologies have become a core part of the consumer purchasing process.

That means businesses will be able to reach large numbers of these new consumers via their mobile devices. In a region where internet access is often mobile-first, thanks to lags in fixed-line infrastructure, demand is expected to grow exponentially—in Singapore alone, mobile and smartphone adoption is predicted to reach 85 percent by 2019. Smartphone penetration is already at 71 percent in China and 80 percent in Malaysia.

At the same time, ASEAN consumers are young. The global generational shift that’s driving younger consumers to digital channels is especially significant in this region, where as much as 55 percent of the working age population will be aged between 20 and 39 by 2020. As a result, enterprises have an opportunity to target these new consumers at unprecedented speed, and create interactive experiences that build demand and lock in loyalty.

Many spokes to the Singapore hub
Singapore also plays a pivotal role in the region because its development, infrastructure and institutions remain years ahead of other cities in its neighbourhood. Global companies are drawn to the city-state because of its robust intellectual property protection regime, well defined regulations and easy access to global talent.
For the past decade, Singapore has also been the only Asian country to receive the top-tier AAA sovereign ratings from all major credit rating agencies—testimony to the confidence its political stability inspires.

At the same time, Singapore ranks as the most tech-ready nation, according to the World Economic Forum’s 2015 Global Information Technology Report. It’s also been recognised as the world’s fastest broadband nation by Ookla and the top and fastest-changing digital economy, according to Tufts University.
Singapore’s ambitious goal of becoming a ‘Smart Nation’ leverages all of these factors, pulling together its world-ranked universities and medical facilities, multi-billion-dollar annual research and development (R&D) investments, a fast-growing community of tech start-ups and large pools of investment capital. It reflects a commitment from the government and private sectors to use technology holistically as a way of bringing about better lives and greater business opportunities.

A new Data Centre supporting Smart Nation Singapore
We’re also committed to the Smart Nation vision, which is why Digital Realty has invested S$200 million in a second data centre in Singapore, to be formally opened in June of this year. Named Digital Loyang Way, this premier, 177,000 sq ft facility in the east of the island will connect to our other data centre in the west (Jurong) via both dark and lit fibre services.

Companies eyeing a move to expand into the region with Singapore as their base need digital data centres that operate like a vibrant, connected digital ecosystem, giving access to a choice of broadband and mobile networks, internet exchange points, content distribution networks and fixed lines. That’s certainly the case at Digital Loyang Way, where customers will have access to a carrier neutral and open environment consisting of a wide range of telecommunications providers, service providers and business partners.

As companies shift towards the cloud and look to outsource their IT infrastructure, Singapore’s reputation as a leader in data security and cyber security excellence makes it a great place to do business. I’m delighted that our new data centre will help to build on that reputation, and add another important brick to Asia’s fast-growing new Digital Silk Road.

Learn more about Digital Loyang Way and Digital Realty’s Data Centres across Asia Pacific online at:


Omer Wilson, Marketing Director for Asia Pacific

*Euromonitor International, 2013
**Facebook Statistics by Country, Social Bakers, 2014.