Digital Edge expands into South Korea with $120mn investment
On Wednesday, Singapore-based data centre operator Digital Edge that it has entered into a definitive agreement to purchase all of the data centre assets belonging to South Korean MNO Sejong Telecom. The deal marks the company’s first foray into the South Korean market, a highly mature digital economy which, so far, has proven .
However, Digital Edge’s method may prove to be one followed by more overseas firms as the decade continues and the South Korean data centre market continues to expand. So far, the country’s data centre market has largely been dominated by and investment. Some foreign companies, including ST Telemedia, have managed to obtain permission to build new facilities near Seoul (Hoseun
Digital Edge - which has financial backing from Stonepeak Investment Partners - will acquire one colocation data centre, located in the central Seoul district of Gangnam, south of the river, and a subsea cable landing station in the city of Busan, at the southern tip of the peninsula.
The purchase is part of to expand Digital Edge’s platform throughout APAC. Samuel Lee, Chief Executive Officer of Digital Edge, explained that, following the company’s successful entry into the Japanese market (with the development of a 12MW facility in central Osaka and a second taking the form of a strategic partnership with ITOCHU Techno-Solutions Corporation to develop the company’s Mejirozaka Data Centre in Tokyo), Korea represents the company's next high priority target for investment and expansion.
Korea is one of the fastest growing markets in Asia with the most advanced digital infrastructure,” said Lee in a statement to the press.
“This transaction provides a great opportunity for multinational companies, as well as Korean businesses, to leverage Digital Edge’s platform to increase their digital footprint in Korea by interconnecting to a rich ecosystem of customers and partners in all key facilities in Seoul and Busan.”
In combination with the money spent on acquiring Sejong Telecom’s assets, Digital Edge expects to spend in excess of $120mn on further expansion projects in South Korea, as well as improving the energy efficiency and capacity of the two facilities.
“The acquisition of these strategic assets in South Korea will form a solid core for our maturing regional platform,” said Yongsuk Choi, Chief Infrastructure and Data Centre Operations Officer of Digital Edge.
He added: “It will position Digital Edge as a credible and reliable data center and interconnection service provider in South Korea, with high-quality assets from Seoul to Busan and a large, diversified ecosystem of Korean and multinational businesses. Additionally, it opens key gateways for the rest of Asia through the submarine cable systems in the Busan area.”
The deal is expected to close in Q2 of 2021 and see Sejong Telecom become a long-term strategic partner of Digital Edge. According to the company, “As part of the transaction, Sejong Telecom and Digital Edge have also entered into a long-term strategic partnership to bring innovative products and services to the marketplace to meet the expectations of both domestic and international customers.”
NUS and NTU launch cooling project for tropical data centres
The National University of Singapore (NUS) and the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), have announced a project in an attempt to source and develop new cooling solutions for data centres located in tropical areas. According to the companies, the programme costs S$23mn (US$17.1mn) and plans to research, build and test innovative and sustainable cooling solutions.
The Sustainable Tropical Data Centre Testbed (STDCT)
The NUS and NTU say that the Sustainable Tropical Data Centre Testbed (STDCT) will act as a research point and innovation hub for the project. Facebook, along with the National Research Foundation Singapore (NRF), is also involved, providing funding for the programme. Further support from other partners includes the Infocomm Media Development Authority, Ascenix, CoolestDC Keppel Data Centres, Red Dot Analytics, and New Media Express.
Commenting on working with the companies, Facebook Vice President of Infrastructure, Alex Johnson, said: “We are excited about the opportunity to partner NUS, NTU, Keppel Data Centres and the CoolestSG community to develop innovative solutions that reduce the carbon footprint and energy consumption of the average data centre, particularly those located in tropical areas like Singapore”.
The NTU and NUS highlight that Singapore houses 60% of Southeast Asia’s total data centre market, and aims to supply 12% of the country’s total energy needs by 2030. This results in the need to reduce the carbon footprints and power consumption of data centres, meaning more innovative cooling solutions are required, the NTU and NUS said.
Professor Chen Thuan, Deputy President of Research & Technology at the NUS, said: “Data centres are a critical enabler of the digital economy, but the average data centre can exert a significant environmental burden. Aligned with RIE 2025, sustainability is a key research focus of NUS, and our researchers have deep expertise in developing integrated solutions for tropical, urban and Asian settings”.
How will the Sustainable Tropical Data Centre Testbed (STDCT) help to provide cooling solutions?
According to the NUS and NTU, the STDCT will be built using equipment such as a novel desiccant-coated heat exchanger and a StatePoint Liquid Cooling System (SPLC) designed by both Nortek Air Solutions and Facebook. The institutions also say they will adopt chip-level hybrid cooling to ensure servers remain cool.
Furthermore, the use of artificial intelligence (AI) will aim to manage the “smart operations” of the technologies so that the data centres are water and power efficient, as well as able to preserve equipment and servers.
The NTU and NSU said in a joint statement the combination of the cooling technologies could reduce energy consumption “significantly” and greenhouse gas emissions by up to 25%, compared to traditional air-cooled data centres. If adopted industry-wide across the entire tropical region, the energy usage of the data centre industry could potentially be lowered by at least 40%”, the companies said.
The STDCT is expected to be operational by 1 October 2021.