The road ahead for data services in Hong Kong

The road ahead for data services in Hong Kong

Although one of the most attractive locations globally, land constraints present a challenge for data centre operators.

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The IT and data centre landscape continues to evolve in Hong Kong and to find more,  iTNews Asia speaks with Chan Wai Man, Director, i-DATA Company, to learn about the new opportunities for technology providers.

iTNews Asia: What unique challenges does Hong Kong face and how is the industry and service providers coping?

Hong Kong is one of the most connected Asian cities with 91.2% of the population having access to the internet. Coupled with the rise of OTT, video and cloud content, end users are relying on connectivity for a variety of needs ranging from cloud-based applications for remote work and education, online gaming, and streaming the latest TV shows and movies which leads to the growth of the data centre industry.

According to Structure Research, the Hong Kong data centre market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 11% to reach USD$2.5billion in 2026. The rise in data centre demand comes as a result of the Hong Kong government ramping up its digital capabilities, through investment in 5G network, cloud computing, big data analytics technologies and more.

However, Hong Kong remains a land constrained market, which poses a challenge for data centre operators.

iTNews Asia: With cloud services growing and China firms expanding, there is a growing demand for data centre and co-location space. Why are building more data centres not a long-term solution in HK?

Although Hong Kong faces constraints in land supply, the city is one of the most attractive data centre locations in the APAC region, given its strategic position as a regional hub.

To cater to the increasing connectivity and network demands, and navigate the city’s land constraints, operators must upgrade their existing infrastructure to become scalable and adaptable to manage the network spikes resulting from remote working arrangements.

In addition, compute and storage cloud resources will also need to move closer to the edge where content is generated and consumed, to provide the low latency and processing power required for the new generation of cloud-native applications like virtual reality, gaming, and IoT.

We anticipate increasing demand for connectivity in Hong Kong due to several reasons. Traffic flow between data centres in China and international markets will continue to grow due to the emerging high bandwidth services. In addition, there are several new data centres and submarine cables that will be launched in Hong Kong in the coming years, which will further enhance Hong Kong’s position as a data centre hub for the region.

-Chan Wai Man, Director, i-DATA Company

iTNews Asia: What are the benefits of edge computing to the industry? How can edge computing help alleviate these challenges? How can 5G help?

These new-age cloud-native applications will be highly sensitive to latency requirements, as well as compute needs. The quality of experience requirements is of a different magnitude altogether, in which traditional centralised data centre models could struggle to deliver.

Further, edge computing is driving the need for the distributed cloud and cloudification of the telecommunications network from the core of the network to the edge.

The distributed approach of Edge Cloud is an opportunity for the industry, as they control the last-mile network closest to end-users, both humans and machines. This framework is a network of several edge compute data centres closer to end-users, providing faster processing of information to ensure an overall superior quality of service.

The industry can leverage Edge Cloud to not only deploy future network functions such as cloud-native network applications, but also to create new service offerings. Edge Cloud provides near-real time cloud computing capability being closer to consumers or enterprises, strongly coupled with an IT environment at the network edge, offering a platform to support many of the low latency use-cases enabled by 5G.

Cost-effective 5G service delivery is also not possible without Edge Cloud, as most 5G deployments will be increasingly virtualised, decentralised, and driven by intelligent automation.

iTNews Asia: How does i-Data see demand for data services evolving in Hong Kong over the next few years? 

We anticipate increasing demand for connectivity in Hong Kong due to several reasons. Traffic flow between data centres in China and international markets will continue to grow due to the emerging high bandwidth services. Hong Kong is well poised to capture these opportunities as a gateway between these markets with our rich international bandwidth resources.

In addition, there are several new data centres and submarine cables that will be launched in Hong Kong in the coming years, which will further enhance Hong Kong’s position as a data centre hub for the region, and fuel increasing demands for data connectivity.

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© iTnews Asia
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