Singapore initiatives set stage for vibrant cloud ecosystem
By Khoo Boo Leong 27-Feb-2012
Singapore's next-generation broadband network (Next Gen NBN) is laying the foundation for greater adoption of cloud services as more offices and commercial buildings get connected to it. By end of last year, the network had been deployed in 19,000 commercial buildings and offices.
Singapore's Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) will be rolling out the Fibre Ready! Mark to identify commercial buildings and offices that are connected to the Next Gen NBN. These include Suntec Office Towers, HarbourFront Centre, Shaw House and Shaw Centre.
"We have 12 service providers offering more than 40 fibre connection packages to cater for both residential and enterprise needs," said Ronnie Tay, CEO of IDA. "However, not all enterprises are aware if their premises are fibre ready. With the Fibre Ready! Mark ... enterprises located in those buildings can be kept informed and therefore prepare their premises to be powered by Next Gen NBN."
Apart from the productivity boost, businesses in these buildings will find the faster broadband speeds opening up opportunities for subscribing to or deploy cloud-based services.
Lower license fees
Late last year, the IDA revised the annual licence fees payable by its licensed Facilities-based Operators (FBOs) and Services-Based Operators (Individual) (SBOs). The revision, which takes effect in 2013, will see FBOs save between 20 percent and 75 percent in annual licence fees while most SBOs will pay 20 percent lower licence fees.
FBOs are operators that deploy telecom network, systems and facilities to offer switching or telecommunication services to another licensed telco operator, business or consumer. SBOs are operators that lease transmission capacity, switching services, ducts and fibre from any FBO to provide telecom services to third parties or resell the services of an FBO.
"This new fee structure seeks to provide a more balanced approach towards facilitating both facilities- and services-based competition in Singapore," Leong Keng Thai, Deputy Chief Executive and Director-General (Telecoms & Post) of IDA. "It is a step towards encouraging facilities-based competition while anticipating increasing SBO competition especially with the deployment of the Next Gen NBN. It also seeks to further encourage market entry by substantially reducing licence fees for new entrants and smaller players".
Cloud computing ecosystem
The IDA hopes that a cost-competitive and pervasive Next Gen NBN will underpin Singapore's transformation towards a greater knowledge-based and services competition economy. Plans include initiatives aimed at developing a cloud computing services ecosystem in Singapore such as a National Authentication Framework to enable greater trust and security for infocomm access and a mega data center park to encourage the growth of more premium, cost-competitive data centers in Singapore.
However, for cloud computing adoption to grow further, especially in the government and commercial sectors, IDA is addressing users' concerns on cloud security.
"Such concerns stems from many sources like lack of understanding to unavailability of clear guidelines and standards," said Khoong Hock Yun, Assistant CEO (Infrastructure & Services Development Group) of the IDA in his keynote address at the recent Management World Asia 2012 event in Singapore. "Other concerns include the availability and performance of cloud."
That's the reason for the IDA and the Infocomm Standards Committee to form "a Cloud Computing Standards Coordinating Task Force to develop best practices for virtualization and undertake industry-wide consultations on meaningful standards and guidelines to address security concerns on use of cloud computing," Khoong added. "We are taking a multi-pronged approach which includes establishing various relevant policies and regulatory frameworks to govern the use and provision of cloud services, promoting awareness and certification of Cloud Service Providers."
Addressing another concern - data protection - the IDA is considering a broad-based law in addition to the various existing sector-specific data protection laws.
"The Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts or MICA has sought public feedback on the proposed consumer data protection or DP framework and its implementation," Khoong said.
"The proposed framework aims to protect consumers' personal data by regulating the collection, use, disclosure, transfer and security of personal data. MICA hopes to introduce a basic broad-based DP law applicable to private organisations to create a balance between the need to protect individuals' personal data vis-á-vis the need for organisations to use the data for legitimate and reasonable purposes."
The framework will also boost the fast-growing global data processing and data management industries in Singapore.