The State of Data Center (Part 2)

Refer to part 1.

For this second part, we bring you interview Q n A from AIMS Group with its CEO, Chiew Kok Hin had been most kind and courteous to share with us the many insights and latest trends on data center industry, focusing on Malaysia.

Chiew Kok Hin, CEO, AIMS Group

1.) The business of data center

1.1) Latest trend ?

1.1.1) Green IT – PUE, power management, heat management and etc

The Data centre industry is a high power consuming industry which requires continues power to ensure the serves run 24/7 with adequate cooling systems. So it is essential for Data Centres to place importance on reducing power consumption and finding and using new technology that minimizes the carbon footprint for a data centre.

AIMS recently became the first first data centre in the country to invest and adopt the Dynamic Rotary Uninterruptible Power Supply (‘DRUPS’) by Piller Power Systems a German-based company.

Piller DRUPS is the world’s leading ‘DRUPS’ supplier brand that is widely being used in large-scale data centres across various developed economies such as Australia, Korea, Europe and USA. Here in Malaysia, DRUPS is widely used in the semi-conductor industry and wafer fabrication factories, since it uses less power and is more efficient. The added efficiency ensures our customers get better uptime, reliability and availability.

  • DRUPS is a green technology that enables large data centres – which require great amounts of mega watt UPS power to support UPS and mechanical loads such as Chillers and CRAH. Powered by batteries, traditional Static UPS needs to be operated in an Air Conditioned room whereas DRUPS can be operated in a Mechanical Ventilation Room.
  • Cooling availability is increased because of continuous UPS power backup to Chiller System. DRUPS also decreases operational costs as flywheel kinetic energy storage requires a more simple preventive maintenance as compared to the constant and scheduled monitoring that is required by traditional static UPS. The flywheel bearing will only require replacement every 8 to 10 years, compared to every 4 to 5 years for the traditional static UPS.
  • The flywheel kinetic energy storage minimises environmental wastage and over the long term will last longer than the traditional Static UPS. Its ability to support high step loads and its higher crest factor capabilities make it an ideal support system for large data centres. Its ability to handle leading power factor of latest server loads without derating makes it an important addition to AIMS’ data centres.

This is one of the ways a data centre can use technology to lessen their carbon footprint and increase the efficiency of their data centre.

Electricity consumption contribute contributes directly to a data centre’s ‘green indicator’ known as Power Usage Effectiveness or ‘PUE’. Whilst the industry’s ideal for data centers is a PUE score of 1.0, fact is the average data centre only manages a PUE of about 2.0.

“In layman terms, this means that it take about 200kW of electricity to operate only 100kW worth of IT equipment. It’s like requiring 2x power points to power up just one single PC!”

*PUE = Total Facility Power / IT Equipment Power. PUE is the ratio of power used by the data center facility to the power delivered to IT equipment itself. The ideal PUE score is 1.0, which means that every watt consumed by the data centre is spent on its IT equipment.

AIMS’ Power Consumption Efforts

To this end, AIMS, as well as most data centre providers, is already making continual efforts to reduce power consumption by these data centre support systems such as:-
  • Arranging data centre server racks around to move cold and hot air more efficiently to reduce power bills and improve system efficiencies by up to 20% or more.
  • Introduce virtualization technology so that lets one machine do the work of many (by cleverly assigning the servers resources to perform the same functions), to saving power and money while minimizing the environmental impact.
  • Replacing the data centre light source in data centre with networked light-emitting diodes (LEDs) as a more efficient source of semiconductor-powered lighting that also brings improved lighting quality.

1.1.2) Peer-to-peer facilities

One of AIMS key selling points is our carrier-neutrality stand. AIMS is currently host to all the ISPs in Malaysia as well as 80 percent of international ISPs.

We choose to be carrier neutral as we believe in choice and see that it brings the most benefit for our customers. By being carrier-neutral our customers are able to choose between telco carrier and connectivity packages – based on the different data requirements of their business.

Carrier neutrality helps customers cut down on redundancy, increases reliability, mitigates the cost of connectivity and most importantly provides the flexibility to change service providers without having to physically move their servers.

Earlier in our business, we realised that the “boomerang” effect was taking a toll on our customers and users itself as local internet traffic had to travel out of the country and back as at that point local ISPs were not peered to each other. This not only caused lagging issues but increased the cost of a connection for ISPS and internet users. That is why the Malaysia Internet Exchange (MyIX) was started to provide peer to peer facilities for ISPs in Malaysia.

By peering with each other, ISPs are able to cut down on the time or lag that was previously an issue. What used to take 80 microseconds to connect due to the boomerang effect has now reduced to 20 microseconds of connecting time.

1.1.3) Locations

One of the reasons we have two separate locations for our data centres is to ensure our customers can opt to have a back up as part of their businesses disaster recovery efforts. Accidents can happen, every business that deals with a large size of data must look into setting up a backup server in a different facility to ensure that in the event of a disaster, their business will still be able to move forward. Historically we have seen server crashes resulting in huge data loss and this is a risk that can be managed and averted with a disaster recovery plan.

1.2) Economy and marketplace

Data centre operators, in its simplest form, are focused on selling real estate, with a target market that is price sensitive.

A Data centre is actually like an airport. It’s a place where different ISPs gather to provide their services through the infrastructure, business conducive conditions and space provided by the Data Centre. An airport is only successful if it’s able to attract a higher frequency of flights from a variety of airline companies. Similarly as a business we believe that our success is determined by the number of ISPs who want to converge at AIMS. We have managed to provide that with a viable condition and infrastructure that attracts customers for them to do business with.

1.3) Give me some insights on self hosted data center vs outsourced data center.

Which one has increased in number since the advent of cloud computing?

Deciding on self hosting or outsourcing a data centre needs to take into account the cost of building and running a data centre.

Data centres provide economies of scale in power redundancy and cooling, two critical environmental elements for the storage of servers. Customers gain value as costs and complexities are minimized, operational efficiency improved and risks associated with IT disruptions are reduced when they outsource their data centre to a reliable partner.

Outsourcing their core and critical IT requirements is a smart move for SMEs. A datacentre is a market centre that gives them options to drive down their operations cost while at the same time improving the quality of their service. They can reduce cost and complexity while at the same time increasing operational efficiency.

Once it was standard for organisations to own and operate their own data centers. But a number of factors are making businesses think twice about whether they always need to own their own facilities. Virtualisation, various forms of cloud computing and changes to the ways companies run IT projects are all having an impact.

The current trend of pay-as-you-go cloud model allows businesses to buy the space they need to use now instead of paying to store a bigger server that you may not even use. This will of course depend on the size of a companys data needs. Smaller companies are opting for cloud due to convenience, cost efficiencies and the need for expertise to run a viable data centre that requires high consumption of power and a reliable cooling system.

We see an increased trend towards outsourcing due to cost efficiency management rather than just because of cloud but there is a huge potential in cloud.

1.4) It looks like enterprises are not buying expensive servers more than before.

While we see an increasing trend towards the purchase of blade servers due to its smaller size and cost efficiency, it contributes to a higher percentage of power consumption per square feet.

Due to the smaller size, a square-feet of space in a data centre can fit more blade servers which intend increases the power consumption for a rack as compared to a rack that houses traditional rackmount servers.

In the future we may not need as much space but the power consumption per square feet is increasing; and with it the cost of a rack. With the increase of power consumption per rack, data centres will need to find ways to mitigate and manage power and the cooling system.

Do you agree with this given that users are more willing to rent than purchase? Yes and we believe they should look into outsourcing parts of their business to remain cost effective.


The software industry goes nut about the concept of ecosystem, which serves as a good strategy for market penetration and business continuity of products.

Is there such thing as Ecosystem in the data center industry?

Yes. For AIMS we have the telcos, web-hosters, content providers, corporates, FSIs and etc hosted at AIMS. The “community” we have built in our data centre in Menara Aik Hua, Kuala Lumpur (MAH), has put us on the global map as a telecommunications hub. The ecosystem we have created, from carefully developing and managing our customer base, forms our value proposition and is the essence of our competitive advantage in the industry, unparalleled in Malaysia. AIMS has emerged as the most densely populated communications facility in South East Asia.

AIMS remains business neutral to its co-locating customers and focuses on playing a facilitator's role, capitalizing on its excellent rapport with the major telcos to provide multiple connectivity options to all our users. Over the years, our data centres have become natural peering points and a vital hub to telecommunications’ providers; foreign telco carriers draw on our facilities as the principal deployment centre for their services; ISPs and CSPs connect to our multiple backbones and utilize our facilities as a deployment point for local access to end customers; and our clientele from a multitude of enterprises from various industries benefit from being within the same facility.

3.) What is coming for the rest of 2013 ?

3.1) Growth rates ?

As stated above, Malaysia is still seeing a steady increase in revenue and space but we need to diversify the business offerings to ensure we continue to be a key player in the data centre industry here in Malaysia.