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The Expanding Need of Data Connectivity
October 14, 2021 News


Written by: Nur Atikah Yusri, Journalist, AOPG

In August, Google and Facebook announced their involvement in the Apricot Subsea cable that will connect Singapore, Japan, Guam, the Philippines, Taiwan and Indonesia. In the efforts to increase global connectivity, the Japanese IT giant, NTT has taken the responsibility of operating and managing several landing stations for the project.

A few months before the Apricot announcement, NTT launched their Global Data Centre Interconnect (GDCI) for connections between NTT’s data centres and major cloud service providers. The recurring theme in both announcements is the efforts to lay down foundations for an interconnected world.

As the importance of connectivity increases in this technology-driven world, we have seen companies like Google, Facebook, Amazon and others invest in subsea cabling projects. To gain a better understanding of the topic revolving around global connectivity, we reached out to Yasuo Suzuki, NTT’s Senior Vice President of Business Management and President of NTT Global Data Centres Corporation and John Eland, Chief Strategy Officer of Global Data Centres for NTT.

Giving us a brief overview of subsea cabling, Yasuo shares “Before this, a submarine cable’s role was to just convey voice traffic. Perhaps around 1995, internet traffic was slightly growing and grew to big volumes around the 2000s. Now, most of the traffic in submarine cables would be internet traffic. In the past, the consortium members of submarine cables were just telecom companies such as NTT, Singapore telecom and Malaysia telecom. Now, the consortium member is Google or Amazon – the hyperscalers are becoming consortium members. That’s why the role and contribution of submarine cables to the society is very big now.”

Yasuo further elaborates that submarine cables play a very large role for every individual across the globe as it reduces latency and increases our degree of connectivity. With the Apricot subsea cable being the fastest in Asia, countries that have opted in will surely reap its benefits. John further comments that the installation of subsea cables is about providing businesses with the opportunity to provide a better quality of service as the landscape today is highly B2C driven. Using the analogy of a train without its tracks, without subsea cabling, data centres are essentially siloed and impractical.

When asked regarding the issue of Malaysia losing its opportunity to be included within the infrastructure plans Yasuo and John both agreed that Malaysia still has good prospects as it is included in the Q3 2022 Malaysia/Myanmar India Singapore Transit (MIST) cable system.

Off the topic of subsea cabling, the interview veered into the direction of interconnected data platforms. As a global telecom company, we asked the NTT representatives regarding the importance of connected data platforms to the company’s mission. John responded with, “Having a globally distributed platform means you can on-ramp in Tokyo, off-ramp in Jakarta, on-ramp in Jakarta, off-ramp in Silicon Valley, etc. Without leaving that single NTT platform and that’s a key requirement when partners are looking at who is best to serve this, do we go with 20 individual providers in 20 different markets and have 20 different sets of standards and be on 20 different platforms effectively? Or do we go to people that have global scale, can give us a globally connected fabric which enables that future growth for clients. You can become a part of the NTT platform at a small scale initially. We have the capacity, we have the reach, we have the footprint to enable rapid expansion for our clients across that globally interconnected platform. If we didn’t have that interconnection, it would become a much more difficult journey for our clients. It’s back to that keyword of enablement.”

When talking about areas of digital transformation and digital enablement, NTT is well known to help modernise business networks with their secure-by-design full stack of services that encompass the optimisation of cloud networking, the transformation of WAN and connectivity, and the connection of smart places and industries backed by NTT network infrastructure. With an emphasis on networks as the foundation for digital transformation, NTT observes that organisations, “need a single dashboard that can show improved integration across the full suite of a connected network, collaboration apps, data centre space, cloud capabilities, and security. Platform delivered services that provide artificial intelligence, enable automated operations and deep network analytics are critical to how the network supports the business, and gaining control over fungible software-defined assets are increasingly important to managing the total cost of network operations.”

Their full stack of services does not stop NTT from growing and further improving for its customers as Yasuo reveals that the company has committed USD $3.6 billion to drive its R&D efforts. Yasuo further explains, “We are supported by 2,500 research engineers and 16,000 patents and inventions such as mobile phone technologies. We are very much keen on R&D to develop new technologies to make people happy in the future.” John elaborates saying, “We’re invested at both ends of the scale if you like. We’re at the sharp end of developing new innovations, new technologies, new enablements but also then investing in the infrastructure at the other end of the scale that is needed to support those. Because of the nature of who we are, we have all of those operations across the surface portfolio as well as the investments into new technologies, we’re able to see those future demand drivers and track those trends and then Yasuo and I, we have the more boring job of focusing on the infrastructure to have to go out and deliver those innovations. Our role is ensuring we’re in the right markets at the right time, with the right levels of capacity to support that growth that is being driven by those R&D teams which will ultimately trigger new capacity requirements for most new technologies which moves down the ladder and generates kilowatts and megawatts demand and also subsea cable demand and IP transit demand at that level. It’s a sort of living organism that is very fluid, it’s constantly evolving but it’s all about capacity demand generation, tracking those trends and ensuring that we can deliver the right capacity at the right markets at the right time.”

NTT is currently within a period of strong growth due to the demand drivers of digital acceleration and has increased its footprint by 20% due to the needs of enterprises for digital transformation. Their investments and solutions aren’t limited to large scale data centres, yet focus on large scale strategic expansion throughout all industries.